Throughout my service in public office, both at the state and federal level, I have worked to make sure our children receive quality early education, elementary and secondary education, and have access to affordable and quality post-secondary education, be it college, university, or career and technical training. The federal role in elementary and secondary education is limited so that the states maintain control. The federal government only funds approximately 9% of K-12 education nationwide. Despite this limited role, I have been a strong supporter of initiatives to reduce classroom size, fully fund the federal obligation to special education, repair our crumbling schools, and give our teachers the tools they need to help children succeed.
I have many concerns regarding No Child Left Behind (NCLB), as it places a significant burden on school districts. We need to make sure that educators have the resources and flexibility necessary to ensure student achievement. Over the years, I have voiced my concerns to the U.S. Department of Education and made recommendations to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), which has jurisdiction over NCLB, regarding areas within this program that deserve close scrutiny and review by Congress. Recognizing the challenges facing rural schools, I have sent numerous letters to Education Secretary Arne Duncan that emphasize the importance of recognizing rural needs when drafting education policy proposals.
Getting the NCLB law reauthorized is long overdue and remains one of my top priorities. I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop a national education strategy that sets high standards and encourages academic achievement. It is critical to our nation’s future that we prepare our young people with the knowledge and skills they will need to become productive and engaged citizens.
I have an online education newsletter that provides periodic updates about education policy being considered by Congress. This newsletter helps me keep South Dakotans informed about important education policy developments and serves as a tool for me to request feedback. If you would like to receive this newsletter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.