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Higher Education

The Higher Education Act was born out of the American commitment to opening opportunities to those willing to work hard in pursuit of a better life. There’s little doubt now that a better life and a college education are closely linked: more and more jobs require a college degree, and college graduates now earn 60% more over their lifetimes than high school graduates.

At the same time, though, the costs of college and the burden of exorbitant student debt on Americans have never been higher. Failing to robustly fund financial aid would hurt working class families who are straining to pay for college, and squeeze more young people out of the ranks of the middle class. Limiting college affordability limits opportunities, and that in turn will hurt economic development.

The Higher Education Act is the largest source of financial aid for American students. It authorizes institutions and programs that help low-income and minority students pursue higher education, such as Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study and Stafford, Direct and Perkins Loans, which provide support to millions of American students every year.

Throughout my career in Congress, I have worked to ensure that these programs stay fully funded and available to help families afford their higher education. I am also a cosponsor of the Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act, which would enable students to use Pell Grant funding at a quicker pace, which would in turn enable them to take additional coursework during a single award year and complete their studies ahead of schedule.

Broad access to a college education is a defining issue for generations of young Americans. Congress owes it to them to support America’s life-changing financial aid programs.

Head Start

President Lyndon Johnson changed the face of education in America by signing the Head Start Act into law. As a former teacher, I saw firsthand just how invaluable the Head Start program’s health and educational services were to underprivileged students and their families. As a Member of Congress, I have strongly supported this amazing program.

America’s future can only be secured if we ensure our children receive first-class educations. More and more, public school students come from households below the poverty line, rendering the services offered by Head Start even more critical to America’s success.

I have long supported full funding for Head Start. Every child - regardless of his or her socioeconomic background - deserves the opportunity to succeed academically. For decades, Head Start has granted low-income students that opportunity. I look forward to continuing my work in Congress to make sure this vital program receives the support and funding it needs.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ensures all students with disabilities receive a free, high-quality public education. The federal government committed to paying 40 percent of the average expenditure for each student receiving IDEA services, but has consistently fell short of that commitment, never even reaching half that mark.

In response to the continued lack of appropriate funding, I coauthored a bipartisan letter to House Appropriators, signed by over 120 of my House colleagues, calling for an increase to IDEA funding for Fiscal Year 2016 that would “put us on the path to full federal funding within ten years.”

Forty years ago, we made a commitment to our students with special needs that we have not kept, and it’s time for us to fix that broken promise. The comprehensive assessment and support services authorized by IDEA have helped close the academic achievement gap for millions of children, but we are still short-changing these students by not properly funding the initiative. Everyone deserves a quality education, especially those who need a little extra help.

It is my hope that with the united support of Democrats and Republicans, we will be able to right this wrong and significantly increase funding for IDEA.

Title I

Part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Title I program provides financial assistance to school districts for services that improve the teaching and learning of children at risk of not meeting state academic achievement standards, especially in areas with high concentrations of low-income families.

Title I is a vital program that, over the course of its history, has allowed school districts to modernize their infrastructure, improve or maintain staffing, and provide children with additional programs and resources necessary to meet state standards in core academic subjects. Title I funds have also been used to support preschool, after-school, and summer programming that reinforces regular schooling, and helps prepare children for the next level of their academic journey.