I am a firm believer in the importance and power of education. Universal access to quality education is one of my top priorities in Congress: improving education from Pre-K through college, both in Sacramento and nationwide.
During the 112th Congress, we will hopefully work to overhaul and improve No Child Left Behind and the Education and Secondary School Act (ESEA) so that the law finally lives up to its promise: to provide an equal and excellent education for every child in America. We need to ensure that every child can be taught by a great teacher and that those teachers are properly supported.
During the 111th Congress, we were able to pass several pieces of legislation that both helped address state budget issues and helped make college affordable. In order to ensure that high school graduates have access to college loans, I supported legislation such as the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, passed in March of 2010, reorganized the student loan system so that all student loans originate from the government’s Direct Lending program and no longer have to go through private companies. This legislation will save taxpayers an estimated $100 billion over the next 10 years in taxpayer subsidies that would have gone to private lenders. And by reinvesting some of those savings back into the Pell grant program, we will be increasing funding from $44 million to $100 million in Pell grants for Sacramento students alone. This will also lead to an increase in the maximum Pell grant award. Moreover, savings from the Direct Lending program will keep student interest rates low, expand early education, and invest over $10 billion back into our community colleges.
I am committed to making sure that high school graduates have access to an affordable college education. In order to cultivate a well-trained, competitive workforce that is capable of keeping abreast of the dynamic global market, the dream of a college education must be within the reach of every qualified student. With that said, I will continue to support the Pell Grant program and oppose cuts to these grants.
Additionally, in order to help address state budget problems, I supported H.R. 1586, the Education, Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, which provided $10 billion in grants to state and local governments to save an estimated 161,000 education jobs. Sacramento area school districts have reported that they would need to lay off 1,300 employees in the 2010-2011 school year without federal assistance. H.R. 1586 prevented a number of these layoffs from occurring and put many teachers who have already lost their jobs back to work
I also supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has pumped more than $184 million into our local school districts over the past two years and provided some relief. However, we most continue to prioritize quality education in order to remain competitive as a nation.
Local educators and administrative staff have also done a wonderful job applying for new federal grant opportunities in difficult times. Some grants of note include:
The Sacramento Employment and Training Agency was granted $2 million for the Sacramento Early Head Start Program. The Early Head Start program is a national effort to bring prenatal and early childhood care to low-income families, amongst which Sacramento is a leader in services. SETA also received $225,000 to provide training and support to Head Start teachers. Head Start is an important Pre-K educational program that furnishes low-income students with the fundamental skills needed to start Kindergarten on track to succeed.
The Foundation for California Community Colleges was awarded $10,944,843 to provide outreach, training, and learning support to increase digital literacy and broadband usage. The Foundation for California Community Colleges project focuses on providing lower-income students with laptops and software training, and developing an open source online digital literacy course available to students and their families at libraries and other public computer centers. In this digital age of computers and online resources, increasing broadband literacy and access is an important step towards insuring success, both as a student and a future member of the workforce. As a member of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Caucus in Congress, I am especially pleased to help increase technology usage and understanding in Sacramento.
Sacramento has also received several Department of Education grants. For example, American River Community College was awarded $220,000 to support low-income, first generation or disabled students to ensure that they remain in school and have the tools necessary to succeed. And Sacramento State University received $275,940 for their Student Support Services Program, which provides assistance to low-income, first-generation, or disabled college students in order to ensure they remain in school and graduate.
The Los Rios Community College District was granted $5 million to expand medical training programs through the establishment of a HealthForce Institute.
I hope that you find the below links helpful to you and your family, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Links to Helpful Education Funding Resources:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Sacramento CAL-SOAP (California Student Opportunity Access Program) Consortium - http://www.scoe.net/calsoap/
AmeriCorps Education Award - http://www.americorps.gov/
Federal and State Education Links:
School Districts within the 5th California Congressional District:
Folsom Cordova Unified School District - http://www.fcusd.org/
Elk Grove Unified School District - http://www.egusd.k12.ca.us/
Twin Rivers Unified School District - http://www.twinriversusd.org/
Natomas Unified School District - http://www.natomas.k12.ca.us/