Weekly Columns

Want Economic Growth? Invest in Education.

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Washington, October 26, 2011 | comments

Many challenges our nation is currently facing can be overcome in the long-term by providing a better education and more opportunities for our children. Quality education directly impacts economic growth. We need a successful education infrastructure that creates a strong foundation in order to ensure the future success of our nation. 

We must invest in early childhood education and other successful education programs like distance-learning in Tennessee – a project led by the Niswonger Foundation.  The distance-learning program is creating new opportunities and developing new skills for students in Tennessee that they might not have otherwise been able to receive.

A high-quality education is critical for a child’s future no matter what country they grow up in. While in Afghanistan, one of the most incredible stories I heard was about children asking soldiers for pencils because those who attend school are considered a higher status.  It was an admirable thing to see that the Afghani children are hungry to learn and gain an education.

While many of our traditional public schools are outstanding, too many students fall through the cracks.  This is a major challenge we’re facing all across the country. That is why I voted for and cosponsored H.R. 2218, the Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act. This important legislation will help more students gain access to a quality education by facilitating the development of high performing charter schools. First-rate education is critical for our children's future, and I believe H.R. 2218 helps us get closer to providing a better education for our children.

We must put education first in order to ensure our young people are gaining the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in the future. This is why reforming No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is so important.  I believe there are four principles we must use to help evaluate reform efforts. 

First, we must restore local control for academic standards and testing systems so that the local educators who know our children best are able to shape their message in the classroom so students excel in college and the workplace. Second, we must empower parents to have a greater role in selecting and participating in the learning environment that best serves their children’s needs. Third, we must let teachers teach by eliminating onerous federal requirements, including needless paperwork, to ensure our teachers and local schools have the freedom to operate and innovate as they think best. Finally, we have a duty to protect taxpayers by spending their dollars wisely.  This includes eliminating ineffective programs and making investments that help students achieve success on an increasingly competitive world stage. I am hopeful that if we meet these principles, our education system will improve dramatically for students, parents, educators and entire communities.

We also need to continue to invest in science and technology education because that is where innovation is spurred. As a doctor, I feel that we need to attract more students into these fields. Promoting math and science is a direct investment in our future generations and will help maintain our position as the world’s leading economy.

Investing in quality education is invaluable and will determine the future success of our nation. As chair of the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions subcommittee for the Education and the Workforce Committee, I will continue to promote and support more education opportunities for our children.

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Tags: Education