Growing up as the son of two teachers, I gained a profound respect for the dedication, professionalism, and expertise our nation’s educators possess. I believe that a quality education is key to building our workforce and our economy, and that elected officials have a responsibility to promote policies that will help our students succeed. I have been pleased to support Delaware’s efforts to make substantive improvements to our public education system through the Race to the Top and Early Learning Challenge Funds, and I look forward to seeing these efforts come to fruition.
- Increasing access to technical education: I support the President’s focus on ensuring all students are college- and career- ready when they graduate high school. In order to meet this goal, we first need to ensure that students have the support and resources they need to graduate high school in the first place. I am extremely concerned about our nation’s low graduation rates, and I am committed to improving them. Critical to this effort will be ensuring that more students can access vocational and technical education in high school and at the post-secondary level. At a time of high unemployment, it is more important than ever that our students have the skills they need to be productive, wage-earning members of society.
- Giving control to states and districts: The federal role in education is important, but ultimately, states and school districts should have flexibility in determining how best to educate their students. As Congress debates reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, I believe it is important to hold students, educators, and schools accountable for their academic achievement. However, the standards and measures of accountability must be transparent, fair, and accurate. It is equally important that teachers, principals, parents, students, and superintendents understand the criteria against which their progress will be assessed and that the criteria is developed with their input. I will work to develop federal policy that supports and enhances the work of states and districts to increase student achievement and recruit and retain quality educators.
- Delivering a 21st century education: Our nation’s school systems must adapt to the new reality that today’s graduates are competing with others across the globe for high-paying jobs. I will support programs that address the needs of a highly educated, interconnected workforce. This means ensuring that our students graduate with a strong background in science and math, the technical skills needed to find employment, and the ability to communicate effectively with colleagues here at home and in other countries.
- Ensuring access to higher education: As the father of two teenage boys, I’m well-aware of the fact that the cost of college has been rapidly rising. Unfortunately, paying for college is now out of reach for many Americans. Making higher education affordable and accessible to all American kids should be a national goal. Colleges and universities shouldn’t be gouging students and raising prices each year simply because they can – and students should have access to loans with low interest rates to pay for their higher education. Making sure young people have access to a higher education -- whether at a four-year university, a two-year community college, or a technical training school -- is a smart investment in America’s future competitiveness.
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