BUILDING A FOUNDATION THROUGH EARLY CHILDHOOD, ELEMENTARY, AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
PROTECTING TEACHERS AND IMPROVING TEACHER QUALITY
Teachers are one of our most valuable resources and are critical to the success of future generations of Americans. It is important that our public education system continue to attract good teachers by rewarding those teachers who have dedicated themselves to the successful preparation of their students.
I supported allocating $300 million to improve teacher quality and raise student achievement while our community recovers from an economic downturn. Additionally, another $100 million was dedicated to funding competitive grants for states to address teacher shortages and for modernizing the teaching workforce. I proudly supported the passage of legislation to keep teachers where they are most needed--in our classrooms. As a result, an estimated 161,000 public school teaching positions were saved or created--including 3,600 in Indiana.
Furthermore, I will continue to support initiatives, such as the Supporting Effective Educator Development program, that provide continuing education opportunities for teachers to practice and build their skills through professional development. This kind of network of information helps our educators learn innovative techniques and increases the opportunity for our kids to receive a well-rounded education.
INCREASED FUNDING FOR YOUTH MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS
Studies have shown that children who have frequent, positive interactions with adult role models perform better in school and are less likely to be involved with drugs and alcohol. In turn, academic performance improves when young Americans behave appropriately and are engaged in their studies. I have had the privilege of visiting many successful mentoring programs located throughout the Seventh Congressional District, and I have seen firsthand the positive impact it has had on the lives of young people
I introduced the Transition-to-Success Mentoring Act in an effort to provide underserved and at-risk students with much needed attention and support. My bill would:
Target at-risk students who have been struggling in school and give technical support for teachers, parents, and volunteers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of students and make a plan to improve academic outcomes.
Provide grant money to help improve a student's academic performance, as well as behavior and social involvement.
Provides funds to be used to support an ongoing relationship between a mentor, referred to as a Success Coach, and a student.
That Success Coach serves as an advocate for the student to make sure teachers and parents understand and are supportive of the plan for success.
I will continue to promote my bill and other successful mentoring programs that provide all students access to one-on-one attention.
MAKING SURE OUR STUDENTS ARE PREPARED FOR COLLEGE AND CAREER
Although dropout rates are at an all-time low of 7 percent, each year, over 3 million public high school students fail to graduate on time. That number is higher for Black and Hispanic students. These achievement gaps between racial minorities, low-income students and their counterparts are inexcusable. No Child Left Behind is the most recent law reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This law established admirable goals and objectives for improving our public education system and closing achievement gaps. Nevertheless, it has done a disservice to our children by overwhelmingly focusing on performance on standardized tests.
I strongly believe improving our public education system should be one of this nation's highest priorities. I am encouraging my colleagues in Congress to support innovation in education by recognizing the value of early childhood education, supporting charter schools and encouraging professional development for educators. In order to succeed in preparing young people for college and career, we need to promote collaboration between educators, parents and community leaders to close achievement gaps and prepare all students for a successful future. Rest assured, as Congress discusses these issues, I will continue to advocate for terminating unsuccessful policies and supporting those that benefit, and improve our public schools.
EXPANDING AFFORDABLE HIGHER EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
The ever increasing cost of tuition is putting higher education out of reach for far too many Americans. For young students graduating from high school and older Americans who are already in the workforce and looking to enhance their career skills, higher education is essential in preparing for jobs in an increasingly competitive global market.
As of January 2015, Hoosiers owed over $24 billion in outstanding federal student loan debt. Nationwide, student loan debt continues to surpass credit card debt to the tune of over $1.4 trillion. I will continue engaging other Members of Congress on how to improve our nation's system of higher education by addressing the issue of college cost, general access, and quality.
As a strong believer in higher education and its positive impact, I voted to pass the College Opportunity and Affordability Act to curtail rising tuition costs, expand grant and loan availability, and otherwise increase attendance at colleges and universities across the United States. Since joining Congress, I have repeatedly supported legislation to improve accessibility to higher education. By expanding funding for Pell Grants and the "American Opportunity" tax credit, post-secondary education became more affordable for millions of low- and moderate-income students. As Congress discusses our priorities for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, I will continue to fight so that each member of our community has an opportunity to gain the skills needed for success.
Students Helping Young Students Act
One way to increase opportunities for postsecondary students involves supporting resources that also would improve outcomes for young children in our community. I introduced the Students Helping Young Students Act, legislation that would allow college students to receive federal work study credits by engaging in our communities through afterschool programs. If passed, this bill would help university students pay for school and encourage them to engage in their communities by serving as mentors to our young children. In that situation, everyone wins.
Higher Education and Employment Transparency Act
It is crucial that students, parents, and those considering going back to school have easy access to resources that will allow them to make informed decisions about their investments in education. In order to address these needs, I introduced the Higher Education and Employment Transparency Act to give families increased access to information.
My bill would require institutions of higher education to:
Provide up-to-date information on recent employment trends in major occupations by region. This will help individuals weigh their options when they decide what to study and what fields are hiring in their areas.
Create clear guidelines for schools advertising job placement rates to distinguish between jobs that require post-secondary education and whether or not the position is paid or unpaid.
While I work with my colleagues to find ways to make college more affordable, I will continue to advocate for transparency so that students have the information necessary to make decisions about their futures.