Mike on Education

The federal government is not doing all it should to support our nation's public schools. Education is properly under the authority of state and local governments, but there is a role that the federal government can and should play. More than a decade ago, Congress and then President Bush had an opportunity to change that with "No Child Left Behind (NCLB)." Unfortunately, this legislation did little to improve our public schools. I was one of only 41 members of the House to vote against NCLB because at the time, I did not think the federal government was fulfilling its existing obligations. I also feared it would not do enough to help states meet the additional requirements imposed under NCLB. Unfortunately, all those concerns proved to be well founded. In the years since NCLB became law, education has been consistently underfunded. Congress should do more to invest in our public schools and must also expand early education opportunities for children. NCLB has been due for reauthorization for quite some time, and it is not clear if the law will be updated to better reflect the needs of our public school systems. As the future of NCLB is debated, I will continue working to direct necessary funding to our schools so that they may make essential improvements.

The role of the federal government in the education of our children should not stop with a high school diploma. With dozens of colleges and universities located entirely or partially in my district, I recognize the important role that higher education plays in keeping America competitive in the global marketplace. I have consistently supported student aid programs like Pell Grants, GEAR UP, and TRIO in order to keep college affordable for all Americans. Equal opportunity is part of our history and essential to our future. We believe every person has the right to develop his or her potential. In order to make this ideal a reality and help our students compete, we must work to make college more affordable and accessible for all of our students. We have made some progress in recent years, most notably by increasing the Pell Grant maximum under President Obama, but we must do more to make sure that all of our young people can pursue the education and the future they seek.

The Obama Administration has proposed a college ratings system that will rate schools using a variety of criteria, including graduation rates and alumni earnings. The Administration is considering linking ratings to eligibility for financial aid. I am very troubled by this approach and do not believe it will really do much to address the challenges of affordability. I have introduced a resolution with Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte expressing those concerns. We are committed to making a college education more accessible and affordable but do not believe a ratings system will get us there.