Studies have consistently shown early childhood programs such as Head Start help the neediest children enter school better prepared and ready to learn. During the latest reauthorization of Head Start in 2007, Congress enhanced this vital program by improving teacher quality, expanding access, and increasing accountability. Unfortunately, under sequestration, Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 900 children in Wisconsin, reducing access to critical early education. Sequestration was not the right way to manage our debt. You can be sure I will work to protect access to early education.
|Ron visits with students at Prairie View Elementary in Holmen.|
While the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act successfully refocused federal education policy on raising academic achievement, it is clear that major changes are needed to the 2001 law. In particular, schools need more flexibility in how they meet accountability standards, instead of relying solely on high-stakes standardized testing. Further, we need to fully fund NCLB and other important education programs. NCLB has been consistently underfunded, forcing our nation’s public schools to cut critical programs.
Since kids perform better academically when they are active during the school day, I will continue to advocate for an increased focus on physical education in our schools. For more information on my work to fight childhood obesity and my FIT Kids Act specifically, click here.
Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District is home to fourteen colleges and universities and more than 71,000 undergraduate students. As the cost of higher education continues to increase, many hardworking families are finding it difficult to send their kids to college. In order to compete in today’s global economy; we must ensure that college remains affordable and accessible for all families. That is why I have supported legislation that increases Pell Grant scholarships, reduces interest rates on federal student loans, and provides assistance for students who commit to teaching in high-need schools.
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was signed into law on March 30, 2010, will help provide Americans with affordable, quality education opportunities to help make our economy strong and competitive again. By making the single largest investment in higher education, the bill will help us produce the highest number of college graduates in history by 2020. To find out how the bill impacts western Wisconsin, click here.
While the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act was a step in the right direction, it was not enough. College is still not affordable and student loan debt has skyrocketed. In fact, student loan debt is now a larger consumer debt than credit card debt, ranking only second to home mortgages. I have fought to keep interest rates low so that higher education remains accessible. However, if Congress fails to act before July 1, 2013, interest rates for Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%, making it even harder for working families.
Rest assured I will continue to support legislation like the Student Loan Relief Act and the ExCEL Act that help make college a viable option for all families. We must take the steps necessary to keep students in the classroom and interest rates low so that our kids can get the education and skills they need to succeed. Anyone with the talent and determination to attain a higher education should have the opportunity to do so, especially in a 21st century economy in which a growing number of jobs require a degree.