I believe that having the best educational system in the world is critical to America’s ability to compete in a global economy.
The last reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), became law in 2001. The goals of ESEA – all students reaching proficiency in reading and math in 2014, highly qualified teachers in all classrooms, and all students graduating from high school are certainly admirable, but I believe that the law does not provide states, school districts, parents, and educators with the flexibility and support that they need to accomplish these important goals. In addition, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel, along with parents and students are being asked to improve schools without being given the resources to do so. I believe changes are necessary so that our educators and students have the tools that they need to succeed.
I believe that any federal standards must be accompanied by a greater federal investment in education. We need to learn from the lesson of NCLB-- that imposing new standards on school districts without providing them with the necessary resources doesn’t work.
In schools all over the world, it has been shown that well-spent money makes a difference. If we increase the federal investment in each student’s education, and spend it on programs that have been proven to work, we can dramatically improve all of our schools. At the end of the day, the promise of a brighter future depends on a dramatically improved education system. It is the promise on which our past has been built. And it is the promise on which our future depends.
High Quality Math and Science Teachers
I am very proud to have authored a new program to increase the number of math and science teachers called the National Science Foundation (NSF) Teaching Fellowship
. It was enacted as part of the America COMPETES Act, which was signed into law on August 9, 2007. My provision creates the NSF Teaching Fellows program and the NSF Master Teaching Fellows program, both of which will improve high school math and science education by encouraging recruitment and retention of talented and dedicated math and science teachers. The first fellowship is available to math and science professionals, while the second is designed for existing teachers who already hold a masters degree in math or science education. The NSF Teaching Fellowships provides incentives to the best and brightest scientists and mathematicians to teach in our public schools, and encourage a new generation of students to learn the skills they will need to compete globally.
To fund this important program for new math and science teachers, I secured $20 million in 2008, $43 million in 2009, and $55 million in 2010.
This new program is based on the bipartisan Math and Science Teaching Corps Act, which I introduced in 2006 with Congressman Jim Saxton. It is modeled after a successful program in New York City called Math for America.
For more information please visit the National Science Foundation's website.
Student Loan and Education Affordability
In the last decade, college tuition has skyrocketed at universities and colleges across the country and this is placing an even greater burden on middle class families.
The federal student loan programs are a critical resource for America’s students, and more must be done to help students and their parents, particularly middle-class students, to pay for the ever-increasing cost of college tuition. Parents deserve a pat on the back when their kids graduate from college – not bills and repayments that may break them.
In 2010, I worked with my colleagues to enact expanded access to college education in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. For example, the law requires that all student loans originating after July 1, 2010 are through the Direct Loan program in the U.S. Department of Education
. The Direct Loan program provides federally-subsidized student loans drawing from a stable source of funds provided by the U.S. Treasury. The Direct Loan program is not susceptible to the ebbs and flows of the private market and provides a dependable source of funding for student loans.
I have championed changes to help students and families afford and access higher education including:
Authoring the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)
, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
. The legislation transformed the existing HOPE tuition credit into the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit. The new Schumer credit represents an overall benefit that is at least two-and-a-half times greater than the previous tuition benefits and greatly expands the number of households eligible for the credit. For families with children in college but who do not have enough income tax liability to qualify for the full AOTC, the law provides a refund worth up to 40 percent of the credit for each student. In 2009, 584,000 New York families claimed the AOTC, receiving tax rebates totaling over $1 million. This vital credit was due to expire at the end of 2010, however I was able to include a 2-year extension as part of the tax package that passed the Senate last December. President Obama’s FY2012 Budget proposal recommends making the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent, a step which will continue to save New York families millions for years to come, and demonstrates a major investment in our nation’s future.
Requiring transparent and simplified information – the "Schumer Box” for private student loans is similar to a successful consumer protection used by the credit card industry. The “Schumer Box” is an easy to read chart, using non-technical terms that will describe the various loan scenarios, including information on the different loan amounts, interest rates, and payment periods. The “Schumer Box” will tell a student how much he or she will owe each month, including interest, in order to pay off the loan. The provision passed as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act