Mike on Education

Education is properly under the authority of state and local governments, but there is a role the federal government can and should play. More than a decade ago, Congress and then President Bush had an opportunity to implement positive change with "No Child Left Behind (NCLB)." Unfortunately, it 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.

Finally in late 2015 the House reauthorized NCLB when S. 1177, the Student Success Act, became law. This bipartisan compromise fixes many of the issues in NCLB, increasing funding for education and directing resources to some important priorities such as STEM education and teacher training. It also gives states the flexibility to consider more than just test scores when measuring progress.

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 proposed a college ratings system to rate schools using a variety of criteria, including graduation rates and alumni earnings. The Administration was considering linking ratings to eligibility for financial aid. I am very troubled by this approach and introduced a resolution with Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte expressing concern. I was pleased when in mid 2015 the Administration announced it would no longer implement a ratings system. We are committed to making a college education more accessible and affordable but a ratings system won’t get us there.