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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Madam Speaker, access to affordable higher education is one of the reasons that our country is so great. As someone who lives in the Gateway to America, I have seen firsthand the transformational power of education. However, access to higher education is now being threatened.
In less than two weeks, the interest rate for student loans is scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This will make it extremely burdensome for students and families with limited financial resources to attend college.
Mister Speaker, in less than one month, the interest rate for student loans is scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This increased rate, combined with the skyrocketing costs for college, will make it extremely difficult for Americans to afford to go to college.
The cost for a higher education at a public four year college has almost TRIPLED in the past 17 years. Americans now owe MORE in tuition debt than they do in credit card debt.
Mister Speaker, I rise today to honor our teachers during National Appreciation Week.
Teachers do not merely just teach in the classroom --- they listen to their students and gently push them to reach their full potential. Teachers serve as role models and mentors. Because of the mentorship of my teachers in high school, I applied for college. I was fortunate to be given a full basketball scholarship, an opportunity that I would not have known about if it weren’t for my teachers. Upon graduating, I decided to give back to my community and become a teacher.