Weekly Columns

Education & Economic Security

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Washington, October 19, 2016 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

This week, the White House announced that the U.S. high school graduation rate for the 2014-2015 school year reached a record high at 83.2 percent. In Tennessee, the rate is even higher at 88.5 percent, up almost one percent from last year, and more than half of Tennessee school districts saw their graduation rates increase or hold steady. This is great news, and a direct result of the hard work of students, parents, educators and school administrators. A quality education is one of the most effective tools to fight poverty, and a student who chooses to continue their education at a college or technical school is undoubtedly more marketable in today’s changing workforce. We’ve still got work to do, but I’m proud of the progress made to encourage high school students to earn their diplomas.

Since I was first elected to Congress, I’ve been a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, and I’ve visited many schools throughout East Tennessee. I’ve seen firsthand that we have some of the best teachers in the country teaching at local schools. In fact, my children went through public schools in Tennessee, and I’m proud to say they’ve all gone on to succeed – in part because of the education they received. So many teachers spend their evenings and weekends crafting lesson plans and using their own funds to buy supplies for their classrooms or for students whose families cannot afford them. It’s easy to see that these men and women are very passionate about giving our children and grandchildren the tools they need to succeed.

When visiting schools around the First District, one of the common concerns I heard from educators was that evaluation requirements and federal regulations left them less time to teach. One-size-fits-all federal requirements were hurting our nation’s students and making teaching more difficult for educators, whether through Common Core or No Child Left Behind. Because this system needed to change, I was glad to have the opportunity to serve on the conference committee for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Fortunately, we were able to put an end to forcing states to adopt Common Core curriculum standards as a condition of federal funding. The Every Student Succeeds Act also gave more control over education back to states and school districts; reduced burdensome federal mandates like national accountability standards and supported more effective teachers in the classroom. A year later, it appears this bill – combined with the hard work of educators and students around the country – is truly making a difference in education.

Still, to be competitive in today’s workforce, education can’t end with a high school graduation ceremony. With that said, I also understand a traditional college education doesn’t work for every learner, which is why I strongly support career and technical training programs. In 2014, I supported reauthorization of Workforce Investment Act. This authorization lasts through 2020 and ensures American workers have the skills and training necessary to succeed in the workforce. Last month, I also supported H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which reauthorizes career and technical education programs. These bills will help train the young men and women who choose to pursue a trade after high school, and will assist in retraining adults who need additional skills to change career paths or stay competitive in the workforce.

A quality education is one of the most important pillars of economic security, and you can rest assured I will continue to support legislation to cut government bureaucracy, streamline taxpayer resources and ensure our students and educators have the tools necessary for success.

Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family. 
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