America’s future depends on a strong investment in education. Preparing our students to compete in the global economy requires proper funding and resources, a safe learning environment, and a committed local community.
We must work on a bipartisan basis to make sure important programs like Head Start receive proper funding, maintain civil rights protections for students, support priorities like environmental education and high-speed broadband infrastructure while also assisting rural schools that have lost property tax revenue due to nearby federal property.
Our students deserve safe, modern schools and libraries with the necessary broadband internet connections to improve collaboration and access cutting-edge educational materials. That’s why I previously introduced the Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act, which will give school districts and public libraries the tools to maintain high-performing facilities that reduce energy use and give our children the best opportunity to succeed.
More than 6.5 million children are eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The federal government has committed to contributing 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for each special education student, but we have never met this funding target.
That’s why I introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, a bipartisan bill that would require regular increases in special education funding. This bill will help ensure students with disabilities receive the support and resources they need to help them prepare for further education, employment, and independent living.
I also previously introduced the IDEA High Cost Pool Funding Act to support states that set up funding “pools” to help reimburse local schools for special educational services that are three times or more the average per-pupil expenditure. This legislation builds on the historic civil rights law by authorizing additional federal funding to help keep IDEA’s promise that every child with disabilities would have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
Today, a college education is more important than ever, and we need to ensure that higher education is affordable and accessible for all American students. That is why I am a cosponsor of a number of bills to help students achieve a higher education, including the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which empowers millions of students and graduates to refinance their college loans to lower rates. I’m also a cosponsor of the Pathways to an Affordable Education Act, which will make college more affordable by increasing the individual maximum Pell grant, indexes the grant for inflation, and restores year-round Pell grants to allow students to take summer and intersession classes. In recognition of World Refugee Day, I authored a new bill, the To Offer Refugees College Help (TORCH) Act, which would expand affordable access to a college education for refugees, people who have been granted political asylum, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders who assisted U.S. armed forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also introduced the International & National Service Promotion to Ignite Renewed Engagement (INSPIRE) Act, which would take steps to unleash the renewed civic engagement of a half a million dedicated individuals to service at home and across the world, while also mobilizing Americans in becoming more active citizens through expanded service opportunities, especially in rural America.
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