As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Susan believes education is one the most important investments we can make in our people. Every American deserves a quality education, and our country’s future depends upon it. By working together to strengthen our education system, we can increase economic opportunity at home and our global competiveness abroad.
Today, Susan is pushing for a greater focus on issues of fairness and high-quality standards, including increased access to early education, efforts to make college more affordable and help students pay off their loans, grants to recruit and train new teachers and principals, and opportunities for professional development. Smart fiscal responsibility shouldn’t hurt our students and schools, which are directly responsible for our country’s future. That is why Susan continues to support funding for crucial education initiatives like pre-k for all, Pell Grants for college students, IDEA for disabled children, Impact Aid for military students, and Title I funds for disadvantaged children.
No Child Left Behind
Also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Susan wants the law to be more workable for teachers, students, and administrators. Currently, NCLB relies too heavily on punitive measures and doesn’t give provide enough support for those responsible for educating our children. Susan believes in a more constructive approach. The right way forward is to encourage student achievement by empowering educators in the classroom and by helping struggling schools succeed – not simply by punishing them.
Once again, Susan was disappointed that this Congress has not passed a bipartisan reauthorization yet. Instead, Committee Republicans moved forward with a highly partisan piece of legislation that was strongly opposed by a broad coalition of education, civil rights, disability, and business groups. She was proud to oppose this measure, and support the alternative legislation, which included pieces of her legislation on teacher and principal evaluations.
Dedicated teachers go hand-in-hand with student learning and student success. Susan is calling for renewed efforts to recruit a new generation of inspirational teachers and principals. As a sign of our commitment, we should start by giving our educators the respect and compensation they deserve.
Susan is also a strong advocate for professional development opportunities that offer teachers and principals the feedback and tools they need to reach their full potential. While we need to do more to support hard-working teachers and principals, there should also be constructive accountability in place to ensure our children are learning.
When funding for educators across the country was in jeopardy over the last several years, Susan supported an Emergency Education Jobs Fund, which brought $23 million to the San Diego Unified School District so teachers in our local schools wouldn’t get pink slips. Susan believes that blaming our country's budget problems on teachers or cutting their pay is wrong and gets us nowhere. It was Wall Street that caused the nation's fiscal problems – not our hard-working public employees... and she said so on the House floor numerous times during debates about budget legislation.
This year, Susan supported bi-partisan legislation that lowered the interest rates on student loans. Without Congressional action, college students would see their interest rates double to 6.8%. That would have meant an additional $1,000 burden for about 7.4 million students. Susan was proud to support and vote “yes” on legislation to stop this hike.
When it comes to helping college students, Susan has long played an important role in higher education policy. As a product of the University of California system, Susan understands the value of public investments in higher education and the message it sends to our students. If we don’t invest in them by making college affordable, then our students may feel less obligated to give back in the future.
Susan has also worked hard to make sure student service members have access to higher education by supporting the Post 9/11 GI Benefit and by passing legislation to block student loan fees in the event of deployments.
NCLB puts a heavy emphasis on academic performance on tests, but Susan recognizes that children still need emotional support and strong role models. For a long time, there has been a mentoring gap in our country that leaves millions of children without a role model. As Co-Chair of the House Mentoring Caucus, Susan supports school-based mentoring programs to pair students in need with a responsible adult for guidance and inspiration.