Investing in education will ensure that future generations have the resources they need to allow our nation to succeed. To do this, we must work to recruit qualified teachers, reduce class sizes, and make college more affordable. My experience as a teacher in New Jersey encourages me to fight for the highest quality education for our students at every level.
As a former teacher, I know that a teacher’s impact is felt not only in the classroom, but also on the practice fields and in the community. As a student, I had the support of my teachers inside and outside the classroom. As a result, I felt compelled to become a teacher in order to give students the same opportunities that my teachers had given me. New Jersey has some of the most talented teachers in the country. While we ask teachers to prepare our children to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, we must also give them the tools and resources to rise to these challenges.
I understand first-hand that investing in early childhood education is fundamental to the foundations of our children’s learning and development. Investing in our children early will provide the best advantage for younger generations. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the main source of federal aid to K-12 education. Initially enacted in 1965, this law was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) to achieve accountability of school systems for improving student achievement outcomes. However, some requirements have become burdensome and punitive. As Congress looks for ways to reform the ESEA, I will continue to work to ensure the needs of our nation’s children are put first.
It is critical that our students are able to compete globally. That is why I believe we must invest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs across the country. Graduates with STEM degrees are in high demand and are indispensable to our economic wellbeing. These programs will help build a highly-competitive workforce both in New Jersey and across the country. That is why I will continue to support programming that focuses on STEM education for students at every level.
While in Congress, I have supported efforts to improve access to a college education. A college degree has become as important as a high school degree was a generation ago. Therefore, making college more affordable must be a top priority. The largest source of federal grant aid for postsecondary education students comes from Pell Grants. The maximum Pell Grant awards have been maintained at $5,550, and are essential to opening doors and giving students the financial means to attend college. During the Fiscal Year 2019 budget process, I sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education requesting $34.6 billion in funding for the Federal Pell Grant Program.
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Over the past year, millions of people have lost their jobs as the economic consequences of the pandemic continue to be felt. Small businesses are struggling, and individuals are facing long periods of unemployment. Our national response will have to be multifaceted and it is important that we help equip workers with the skills that match the needs in their community. I believe that the Better Education and Skills Training (BEST) for America’s Workforce Act, which I will be reintroducing in the 117th Congress, can play a key role in achieving this goal.
This week, we continue to work through the fallout from the January 6th attack on the Capitol and determine how policy can best address the many failures we witnessed. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting violence and insurrection against the Government of the United States. In addition to cosponsoring the legislation bringing impeachment articles against the President, I cosponsored a resolution condemning and censuring Rep.
This week, I signed onto legislation to allow tax credits to rollover for childcare costs and signed onto a bill to keep students safe in schools. I also signed onto to letters to urge the President to have the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) set up drive through COVID-19 testing in New Jersey, include pro-worker and pro-labor provisions in the Fiscal Year 2021(FY21) appropriations package, and demand answers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about the detention of unaccompanied minors.
Last week, I joined the Congressional Labor Caucus, and cosponsored legislation to raise the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) monthly benefits, help ensure children do not go hungry during the pandemic, raise the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2021, help students refinance their student loans, and ensure humane treatment of animals in any research and testing.
This week, I wrote an op-ed about the future of the Gateway Project, including the Hudson Tunnel Project, and its significance to the 8th District. I cosponsored legislation to protect the rights of students with disabilities, and to protect students from sexual abuse in schools. I also signed onto a letter to promote colorectal cancer screening and spoke with Colombian President Ivan Duque on the phone.
Last week, I signed onto legislation to help save public education jobs, protect polar bears and their natural habitat, and develop and protect outdoor parks. I also cosponsored legislation to expand access to high quality apprenticeship programs across the country. I signed onto letters opposing the expansion of the global gag rule and urging the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reverse their guidance on eviction moratoriums.
This week, I joined the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey to discuss affordable housing in the 8th District. I introduced legislation to support our economic partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and cosponsored legislation to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to schools, get surplus computers to our nation’s veterans and students, and reaffirm our commitment to marriage equality.
This week, the House was in session in Washington, D.C. to extend funding of the federal government. The House also voted on legislation to protect benefits for veterans, condemn the forced labor of Uyghurs in China, and reinvigorate our economy with more clean jobs and innovation. I attended hearings focused on Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, and the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
Over the weekend, the House was back in session to vote on legislation to curb the Administration’s preposterous attacks on the United States Postal Service (USPS). I also signed onto the Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act and legislation to ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could provide funeral assistance to undocumented immigrants dealing with the fallout of COVID-19.
(West New York, NJ) – Today, Congressman Sires released the following statement regarding Governor Murphy’s announcement that $150 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the CARES Act is going to higher education institutions across the state: