America’s future can only be secured if we ensure our children receive first-class educations. Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed academically. The federal government should commit to ensuring an adequate level of funding is provided to our public schools. This will enhance their excellence, and help close the educational gap that exists between socioeconomic groups. That is why I have been working to reverse spending cuts by Republicans which have hit our schools hard. As such, I was proud to vote in support of record education funding of $75.9 billion for the 2020 Fiscal Year.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 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. I have always supported robust Title I funding and this year I voted in support of a $ 1 billion funding increase for Title I.
Early childhood education is critical to provide for America’s continued success. I have long supported full funding for Head Start, President Lyndon Johnson’s groundbreaking program that changed the face of education in America. I have seen firsthand 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 a first-class education. More and more, public school students come from households below the poverty line, making the services offered by Head Start even more critical to America’s success. I joined my colleagues in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that the Head Start program receive $11.1 billion fiscal year 2020.
In addition to Head Start, I have been a staunch supporter of funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which 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 funding has never reached half that mark. Forty years ago, we made a commitment to our students with special needs, which we have failed to meet. It is 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 still have more to do. Everyone deserves a quality education, especially those who need a little extra help. That is why I am a cosponsor of the IDEA Full Funding Act (H.R. 1878), which will provide full funding to IDEA.
For America to build on early childhood education, K-12, and specifically higher education must meet the needs of all students, and provide paths to apprenticeships, community college, trade schools, four-year colleges and post-graduate education. I believe we must do more to ensure that higher education is both accessible and affordable. Unfortunately, higher education is still unattainable for far too many Americans. That is why I support programs that will help make a college or post-high school degree a reality for students regardless of race, wealth, disability, or family circumstances. I have and continue to cosponsor H.R. 4108, the Jumpstart on College Act. This bill supports students by offering grants to establish or support early college high schools and dual enrollment programs to improve low-income and underrepresented students' post-secondary graduation rates.
As the cost of college has skyrocketed, more and more students have had to take on exorbitant debt to cover tuition. This has led to more than 44 million borrowers having over $1.5 trillion in debt. Not only is this a tremendous burden for students and families, but this is a drag on our entire economy. Future borrowing will be adversely curtailed to start families, purchase homes, or change careers. That is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1707, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. This bill would allow students with high interest loans to refinance at the current rate for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. It is critical that we invest in federal programs to provide funding, as well as offer simple repayment options for student borrowers. I have been a long-time supporter of Pell Grants, which are the bedrock of our federal higher education funding system. I was proud to vote for and help pass record funding for the Education Department totaling $75.9 billion. A third of the funds, nearly $25 billion, are dedicated to Federal student aid programs alone.