Senator Coons spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday to reintroduce legislation that would help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education. The bipartisan American Dream Accounts Act of 2013 would authorize the Department of Education to award three-year competitive grants to support innovative and comprehensive partnerships that support low-income students in preparation for a college education.
WILMINGTON — With U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in town to talk about the benefits of early childhood education, Senator Coons caught up with him, Governor Markell and other Delaware leaders at two events on Monday to show his support.
Senator Coons is a big supporter of early childhood education. One of the first bills he cosponsored as a new senator was called the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act. Just a few months later, Secretary Duncan and President Obama announced they were creating a Race to the Top program for early-learning programs — pre-kindergarten. Delaware was one of just nine states to win funds in that competition back in 2011.
“In child after child, we’ve seen proof that early education results in kids who are better prepared for the classroom and ultimately more successful in school and in life,” Senator Coons said. “Developing and implementing a long-term strategic plan shows real leadership and commitment to investing in our kids and ensuring they have every opportunity to succeed. When we invest in our kids, we invest in our own future.”
Chris caught up with Secretary Duncan at St. Michael's School and Nursery in Wilmington, where they talked about the importance of early learning to kids' development.
They then moved to Penn Cinema on the Wilmington Riverfront to join community and business leaders, early childhood advocates and professionals from across the state for the unveiling of Delaware's strategic plan for early childhood education.
Senator Coons congratulated four Delaware students who earned medals at the 65th Delaware Valley Science Fair and are now headed to the International Science Fair. Two of the students are from Sussex County and two are from New Castle County.
Chris is a passionate supporter of science education, and loves attending Delaware science fairs to talk with students about their projects. He believes that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are critical subjects for the next generation of American innovators. One of the first bills Chris cosponsored as a U.S. senator was the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which extended investments in cutting-edge research and STEM education. This legislation was signed into law in January 2011.
The Delaware students participating in the International Science Fair are:
- Bansri Patel, Sussex Technical High School
- Mikayla Ockels, Sussex Central High School
- Martin Kurian, The Charter School of Wilmington
- Edward Bao, The Charter School of Wilmington
For a complete list of winners, click here.
Senator Coons also congratulated four middle school students from Kent County who earned honorable mentions at the Delaware Valley Science Fair. They are:
- Jordan Tribbett, Milford Middle School
- Carson Rios, Milford Middle School
- Joseph Dean, Milford Middle School
- Ashish D'Souza, William Henry Middle School
In this series of blog posts, Senator Coons’ legislative staff shares their analysis of the President’s State of the Union address with Delawareans.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed making high-quality preschool education available to every child in America. Research shows that high-quality early education can have a meaningful impact on a young person's life.
Senator Coons is a strong believer in the importance of early childhood education. He is a co-sponsor the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act, legislation authored by Senator Bob Casey to promote state investment in early learning and help states build and strengthen systems of high-quality early learning and development programs.
Delaware is a national leader in early childhood education and in December 2011 was named a winner in the Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge.
In addition to investing in early learning, President Obama focused his State of the Union remarks on meeting the critical challenge of making higher education more affordable and accessible for more students – something Chris has been working on since before he was elected to the Senate.
President Obama called on Congress to "change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid” and announced the launch of a new White House college scorecard to help students and parents see where they can get the most “educational bang for their buck.”
Chris worked with Republicans and Democrats to introduce the American Dream Accounts Act, legislation that would help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education.
The Washington Post published an article on Tuesday reporting that the percentage of students at public high schools who graduate on time has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years. According to research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, 78 percent of students across the nation in the Class of 2010 are estimated to have earned a diploma within four years of starting high school. The last time the graduation rate was at that level was in 1974.
High school graduation rates are one measure of school success, and educators and policymakers have been trying for decades to stem the number of U.S. students who drop out of high school.
High school graduation rates have a significant effect on the economy, according to a study last year by America’s Promise Alliance, a foundation created by Colin L. Powell. On average, high school graduates earn $130,000 more over their lifetimes than peers who drop out of school, the study said.
Senator Coons has made education reform a priority. In March, he introduced the American Dream Accounts Act to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education after graduating from high school.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ work towards increasing college access.
Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post’s website.
Last week, Senator Coons congratulated John Sell for earning the title of Delaware Teacher of the Year. Mr. Sell teaches English at Sussex Tech High School in Georgetown, where he is known for his innovative teaching techniques, such as singing poetry to his students.
As the son and grandson of classroom teachers, Chris is committed to strengthening education in Delaware and supporting our extraordinary teachers like Mr. Sell. He joined the Delaware Teacher of the Year Awards Dinner to share his personal appreciation with all of this year’s finalists, selected from 9,000 Delaware public school teachers to represent each of the state’s 19 school districts.
At the awards dinner, Chris said “Tonight, we honor and appreciate all of our teachers, and we also recognize 19 in particular who have gone above and beyond. As nominees for Delaware’s Teacher of the Year, you have shown exceptional dedication and commitment to your students, as well as the ability to inspire the kind of love learning that lasts a lifetime.”
To read more about Chris’ work on education, click here.
NEWARK – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and U.S. Rep. John Carney joined the University of Delaware to announce a federal grant from the National Science Foundation in the amount of $416,102 to help create a Regional Cybersecurity Education Initiative. The goal of the initiative, formed by the University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College and Harford Community College along with government and industrial partners, is to establish a pipeline of graduates skilled in the theories and practices required to address pressing cybersecurity threats facing our state, region and nation. The Congressional delegation toured a computer lab at the University of Delaware to learn about tools and techniques designed to ready students for this emerging field.
“A cyber attack is perhaps the greatest looming threat to the United States, and the Cybersecurity Education Initiative’s efforts will play an important role not just for Delaware but in investing in the next generation of technology and cyber experts that will improve our nation’s cybersecurity,” Senator Coons said. “This initiative is a significant collaborative step in understanding and confronting the challenges in the ever-changing realm of cyberspace. I believe in the Cybersecurity Education Initiative, and I am committed to its success because our nation can’t afford to risk the safety and security of our critical infrastructure.” Senator Coons is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Cybersecurity Education Initiative will:
- Expand Cybersecurity courses at the University of Delaware
- Create a minor at the University of Delaware producing students able to design state of the art secure software systems
- Create a 2+2 Program to allow second year Delaware Technical Community College and Harford Community College students to transfer into four year University of Delaware Computer and Information Sciences, and Computer Engineering BS degree programs
- Establish cybersecurity internship program
- Create middle and high school student and teacher summer camps focused on cybersecurity
Kenneth Barner, principal investigator on the grant and chair of UD’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the project will be particularly important for Delaware and northern Maryland, “where there is a significant need for trained cybersecurity graduates critical to large regional employers in, for example, the financial services industry and the military.”
Senator Coons sponsored a resolution honoring the life and career of the first woman from the United States to fly in space, Dr. Sally Ride, who passed away in late July. Chris’ resolution was approved unanimously by the Senate on Thursday night.
“Sally Ride was inspirational, not only to young women, but to every American who has looked up with wonder and curiosity only the stars can inspire,” Chris said after the resolution passed. “Dr. Ride’s life’s work, like that of the shuttle program, was to inspire Americans to never stop searching for knowledge of our world, our universe, and ourselves. It’s a mission we all must carry out, and one that I am committed to helping fulfill. I’m glad my Senate colleagues came together last night to honor Dr. Ride with this resolution, and hope her memory will continue to persuade young Americans to search for answers in the sciences.”
The bipartisan resolution “expresses [the Senate’s] deepest condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Sally Ride on her death; mourns the loss of Dr. Ride, a trailblazing pioneer who inspired millions of individuals, especially women and girls, to reach for the stars; and appreciates all of the contributions of Dr. Ride to science, physics, education, and human spaceflight.”
Born, raised, and educated in California, Dr. Ride became a role model and hero when she launched her first mission in 1983, becoming the first American woman to enter low Earth orbit. After flying two shuttle missions and serving as a member of the Presidential Commission investigating the Challenger accident, she became a professor, and eventually started “Sally Ride Science” in 2001, a company dedicated to promoting new and exciting ways to engage elementary and middle school students with science at an early age.
The U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday a new streamlined website and social media tools that will make it easier for students and families to navigate the financial aid process and make informed decisions about paying for college. Senator Coons encouraged Delaware students and families to take advantage of these new tools, which are designed to be fully accessible on tablets and smartphones.
Included on the new website is an interactive tool to help borrowers who have fallen behind on their federal or private student loan payments. The tool provides tips to borrowers with private student loans on how to negotiate with debt collectors.
Chris has been a longtime advocate for college accessibility. Earlier this year, he introduced the American Dream Accounts Act to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education. The bill would authorize the Department of Education to award three-year competitive grants to support innovative and comprehensive partnerships that support low-income students in preparation for a college education.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ work on improving America’s education system.
On Tuesday, Senator Coons passed a resolution through the U.S. Senate honoring the student participants in the 44th International Chemistry Olympiad. In the resolution, the Senate welcomed the International Chemistry Olympiad to the United States, acknowledged the importance of encouraging students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and honored the University of Maryland, College Park, as well as the American Chemical Society for making this event possible.
Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) co-sponsored the resolution, which passed the Senate unanimously.
About 300 students from over 70 countries will gather in Washington, D.C. next month to participate in the International Chemistry Olympiad. The competition brings students together and tests their abilities in the theory and practice of chemistry, with specific opportunities in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry and spectroscopy. By interacting with their peers from countries around the world, participants will have the chance to foster important relationships and be a part of a scientific community.
Chris is committed to encouraging students to pursue STEM fields through innovative events like this one. He previously co-hosted the first-ever Kent County Science Fair in Dover and checked out student projects at the 20th annual Sussex County Science Fair. Chris was himself an undergraduate chemistry major, and is passionate about science and math education. He believes events like the International Chemistry Olympiad can fuel students’ critical thinking skills and open doors to their future.