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Let's Empower Teachers!

After spending twenty-three years as a high school teacher, I know that there is nothing more rewarding than guiding students and providing them with invaluable life skills. The ability to see that “ah-ha!” moment in your student’s eyes is priceless and something every teacher cherishes.

Many teachers feel that the progress of their students is rewarding enough. I believe it is also important to reward teachers with policies that allow them to do their jobs effectively. By doing so, we can provide teachers with the opportunity to help solve the problems of our educational system. We must empower our teachers and stop blaming them for the failures of our education system.

When I was elected to Congress in 2012, I knew that I had an opportunity to contribute to the discussion in a way that many teachers are cannot. I had seen and felt first-hand the failures of No Child Left Behind and the negative impact of relying on standardized tests and “one-size-fits-all” requirements.

I believe in an educational system that will prepare Americans for the global economy – an education system that places an emphasis on STEAM; science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

But we cannot just stop there. We must foster partnerships with community colleges and industry in innovative ways that prepare our students for their careers. By implementing college-based job training and workforce development programs, our students will be ready to hit the ground running upon graduation.

Since I took office in January, I have introduced several pieces of legislation that aim to accomplish those goals.

  • The Job Skills for America’s Students Act looks to promote job training and skills development partnerships between businesses and educational institutions by providing a tax credit to companies who enter into such partnerships.
  • The bi-partisan Work-Study for Student Veterans Act would extend the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Student Work-Study Allowance Program.
  • The Access to Complete Education Act would establish a grant program for school districts to strengthen core curricula in one or more of the following subjects: music and arts, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, history, geography, and physical education and health.
  • The Warriors’ Peer-Outreach Pilot Program Act would establish a pilot program that creates work-study positions for veterans who are currently enrolled at a four-year, two-year, or technical college and are using Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. These veterans will work part-time providing peer-outreach and peer-support services to veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

While these pieces of legislation would provide important first steps towards improving our education system, nothing can replace supporting the teachers who are face to face with our children every single day. The National Education Association’s 92nd Annual American Education Week provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Since I took office earlier this year, I made it a priority to visit local schools to hear about their challenges, and in the coming weeks, I plan to tour more. I want to speak with teachers to learn what they need to succeed. Our children, and our nation, depend on them.

Educator for a Day Program Participants Share Their Experiences