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One of the most important challenges we face as a nation is making sure all of our children have access to a quality education that gives them the tools they need to compete and thrive in a competitive world economy.  Throughout the 20th Century, the United States was the world leader in innovation, research, and development.  Today, we face losing our edge to the rapidly growing populations of Korea, China and India.  To maintain our competitive edge in technology and industry, we must create an educational system that demands accountability from our schools and teachers and challenges our children to succeed.

One of the best ways to ensure that we are succeeding in education is to make sure our children all learn at grade level.  To accomplish this, Congress should set strong and innovative standards for our schools to achieve.  There is no one ‘silver bullet’ solution to our education problems.  Instead, it will require constant monitoring and attention to ensure that our schools are improving the lives of our children.  For that reason, I will continue to meet with teachers and administrators across the 9th district to get their take on education reform and how the system can be improved for our children and young adults.       

However, Congress’ commitment to education does not stop after high school.  A college degree is increasingly important in today’s fast-paced economy.  To make a college education possible for more students, Congress must address the rising cost of tuition and student loans.  We cannot expect our future generations to succeed in life if they start out with a mountain of high interest debt.  That is shy I supported legislation which gradually reduces the interest rate for Subsidized Stafford loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over a period of 5 years.

Congress must also remain firmly committed to seeing that the Department of Veterans Affairs receives the funding it needs to offer our veterans a college education.  Congress has demonstrated its commitment to providing educational opportunities to members of our Armed Forces since the passage of the first GI Bill in 1944.  Congress’ promise to our veterans must continue and as a new generation of veterans returns from the War on Terror, Congress must step up to provide up-to-date benefits to help them secure their futures.

Finally, we must act to make the classroom safe for students and teachers.  We have vividly seen the violence that has crept into our nation’s schools.  We must take every precaution to ensure that our schools are safe from violence and drugs.  That is why I supported the “student and Teacher Safety Act.”  This legislation would allow teachers to conduct the reasonable search of any minor student if they suspect a student may possess a weapon, dangerous material of illegal narcotics.