As a member of Congress, I will work towards reducing the federal government’s role in mandating education requirements that restrict flexibility needed at our state and local levels, including the judgment of teachers on the front lines in the classroom.
I will work in a bipartisan manner with all who seek to improve our system and focus on the real needs of our children and the realities of the communities they live in. Top down, one size fits all policies from the federal government have done enough damage, and also get in the way of our own local innovations like advancing high impact opportunities such as digital curriculum and preparation for career paths not requiring college.
In Congress I will work to:
End Common Core by ensuring the Federal Education Department meetrequirements of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that can free state and local education leaders from Common Core mandates while still retaining eligibility for Federal education funding. Unfortunately, the Federal Education Department has not embraced this pathway for States to reduce Common Core mandates as the Act intended. In Congress, I will continue to review every aspect of the federal government’s role in education to maximize local control and keep education dollars in our communities instead of Washington, DC.
Focus on preparing students for careers, not just college, with exposure to trade, industrial and digital education. Skilled trade workers literally built this country and we need a new generation of them. And the combination of sky rocketing demand for software development and ease at which today’s tools are used by digitally savvy teens create an entirely new career option for students to develop skills qualifying them to start high paying programming and system jobs right out of high school. There is much more our schools can do to advance student interest and development in both skilled and digital trades for post high school employment.
Provide incentives and support to facilitate the shift to the digital curriculum. We must ensure our teachers have the modern tools they need to best prepare our children for the digital world we now live. I’ve played a role helping our local school system overcome the challenges of building infrastructure and teacher development, accelerating progress in the inevitable shift towards a curriculum that leverages the benefits of adaptive and interactive learning. Spreading awareness of best practices and helping schools link up with the resources they need will be key to producing faster progress in this high impact opportunity.
Secure full funding under Title 1 of ESSA. Children participating in Title I receive primarily reading, language arts, and mathematics instruction through school-wide approaches or targeted assistance strategies. Title I funding is currently $14.9 billion in grants to support student achievement efforts at roughly 90 percent of the 14,000 school districts across the nation.
Allow students in rural areas the opportunity to take coursework that is not taught in their district. ESSA allows states a 7 percent set-aside of Title I funds for school improvement. We should encourage the state to use competitive grants to expand course access statewide. It would allow a student in a rural area the opportunity to take advanced coursework that no one there teaches or allow a gifted student to accelerate his or her education.
Let’s bring in the best and the brightest to teach our children. Under a little-noticed ESSA provision State’s can use Title II funding to develop new “teacher preparation academies” sponsored by non-profits and other public entities to train and place talented STEM teachers alleviating teaching shortages in critical subjects such as math and science.
Ensure full funding of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA sets out required federal educational services for students with disabilities. When instituted, Congress promised a federal share of funding of 40 percent of the average per pupil cost for every student. This level of funding has never been approached and today federal funds account for only 16% of program requirements.
Increase basic research into education. A critical and appropriate role of the federal government is in the area of basic research. Unfortunately, when it comes to education the U.S. has historically underinvested with Washington spending barely 1% of what the nation spends on medical research. We need to do more.