Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Every Child Deserves Access to a High Quality Education

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Washington, August 21, 2015 | comments
Something that we can all agree on is that every child in every school deserves access to an excellent education. However, our country is falling short of achieving the goal of every child receiving a solid educational foundation.
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Something that we can all agree on is that every child in every school deserves access to an excellent education. However, our country is falling short of achieving the goal of every child receiving a solid educational foundation.

Currently, only 38 percent of high school seniors can read at grade level and 26 percent are proficient in math. What is even more alarming is out of 34 countries, students in the United States rank 20th and 27th in science and math, respectively. What all of these numbers basically mean is that the K-12 education system is failing our children.

In order to replace the flawed No Child Left Behind Act, earlier this summer the House of Representatives passed the Student Success Act. This legislation is a proposal to reduce the federal footprint, empower parents and educators to hold schools accountable, and restore education back to local control. A few highlights of this comprehensive legislation are: eliminating 69 duplicative and ineffective programs and replace them with a Local Academic Flexible Grant to help schools support students; protecting the decision making ability of individual states by preventing the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core standards; and ensuring parents have the information they need to hold schools accountable, while at the same time ending the era of high-stakes testing.

Our K-12 educational system isn’t the only issue at hand. We must also make reforms and improvements to higher education. America’s higher education system is far too costly. Over the last decade, the average costs of attending  four-year public and private nonprofit institutions increased by 42 percent and 24 percent, respectively. In addition, federal student aid and repayment programs are too complex and confusing. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s response to these issues has been more federal regulations, mandates, and costly programs; a response that is leaving our students at a disadvantage.

Later this year, Congress will debate the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. My colleagues and I are working to not only reauthorize, but reform this law in order to empower students and families to make decisions by improving data transparency and simplifying student aid by consolidating the current patchwork of federal programs and streamlining the application process.

Every student should have the opportunity to have a high quality education and to attend a school that is not failing. I will continue to work to find ways to control the cost of a college education, expand access to more students, and ensure that citizens at the local level are making the decisions - not the federal government.

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