Investing in the next generation of innovators
To strengthen our nation’s global economic competitiveness, we must invest in its future. That means turning around failing schools, supporting teachers and encouraging family engagement, helping low-income families save for college, and funding student opportunities for research in science and technology fields.
Recent international test scores once again showed American students falling behind their counterparts from Asia and Europe in reading, science, and math. Skills in these subjects are crucial to preparing for the kinds of jobs that will be central to our twenty-first century economy. If we commit to making important education investments now, our students will be well prepared for years to come.
Senator Coons’ education priorities include:
- Reauthorizing and reinvigorating ESEA. We must reform our education system and its challenges comprehensively. Congress should move to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in a way that reinvigorates federal programs that support student achievement and college preparedness. We need to hold our students to high standards while at the same time ensuring teachers have access to critical resources and support systems. Reauthorizing ESEA will give Congress a chance to focus on making key education policy decisions that lawmakers have put off for too long.
- Investing in STEM teaching and learning. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are critical subjects for the next generation of American innovators and workers. For America to continue leading the world in research, innovation, and the commercialization of new technologies, we must invest more in STEM education today. 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 critical piece of legislation was signed into law in January 2011.
- Rewarding success. If we are to achieve President Obama’s goal of making the United States the country with the highest percentage of graduating high school seniors by 2020, we need to ensure that all of our schools are performing at the highest level. We must reward schools that increase their graduation rates and raise student achievement, especially schools with a history of underachievement. The Race to the Top program, which Delaware schools won in 2011, is a model for investing in schools committed to constructive reform.
- Promoting family engagement in education. Research demonstrates that students perform better in school when parents are actively involved in their education. We can engage parents in the education process by helping their children focus on homework, by fostering expectations of college attendance, and by communicating with teachers regularly about results. This is why Chris worked with Senators Reed and Whitehouse to introduce the Family Engagement in Education Act, which would boost support for programs that get parents more involved with their kids’ education.
- Doing more to support classroom teachers. All of us can remember teachers who made a difference in our lives. Great teachers can encourage students to reach for their dreams, and we need to encourage more of our talented young people to pursue teaching careers. It is imperative that we give classroom teachers all the resources they need to prepare their students to achieve, and that we make sure teachers have a seat at the table as we consider further ways to strengthen our schools.
- Promoting investments in early learning. Access to quality early learning opportunities, particularly for the most disadvantaged students, is crucial to closing the achievement gap we’ve seen develop in so many communities. That’s why Chris joined Senator Casey in introducing the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act to establish an Early Learning Challenge Fund to help states build and strengthen systems of early learning. Several months after the bill was introduced, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge, which aligns closely with the priorities of this bill. Delaware, always a leader in education reform, won funding under this competition in 2011.