Weekly Columns

Empowering America’s Teachers

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Washington, May 9, 2018 | Lani Short (202-225-6356) | comments

In East Tennessee, we are fortunate to have some of the best teachers in the country, let alone the state of Tennessee. That’s why this week, during Teacher Appreciation Week, I have the privilege of recognizing the hardworking educators all across the First District. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is the opportunity to visit schools and classrooms and see first-hand the quality education our teachers are providing. I attended public schools all the way through graduate school, and all of my children went through public schools in our area.

We need a thriving education system that sets students up for success in their future, which is why I’m proud of the initiatives our Governor, Bill Haslam, has championed to ensure education is a priority for our state. For example, the Tennessee Promise scholarship provides students the opportunity to attend a two-year community or technical college in Tennessee tuition-free. Whether or not a child receives a quality education can drastically alter the course of their lives, and I am proud our state is taking the charge to ensure our students receive the best education in the world, no matter where they come from or their socioeconomic status.

I’ve spoken to so many teachers who are frustrated by the bureaucracy they are forced to deal with and just want to be able to teach kids. These are people who have dedicated their careers to educating students. I know many who have spent nights and weekends working on lesson plans and used their own funds to buy items for their classrooms or for students whose families cannot afford supplies.

As a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I am working hard to find ways to empower educators and return decision-making power back to local classrooms. Education cannot be solved by a national, one-size-fits-all approach. Each state, school district and student are different, and local administrators, teachers and parents—not the federal government—should make decisions based on what’s best for their students. For this reason, I worked with my colleagues in 2015 to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act, which returns more control over education back to states and school districts, reduces burdensome federal mandates, safeguards the rights of states and school districts to determine what standards are best for their students and supports more effective teachers in the classroom.

In addition, with our rapidly changing global economy, it’s critical that American students and workers have all the skills and training necessary to succeed. That’s why I support the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which helps ensure technical education is focused on meeting the needs of local communities and local employers. Workforce development and strengthening soft skills among our labor force is key to strengthening our education system, growing the economy and improving workforce training opportunities.

Our teachers are some of the most important people in our children and grandchildren’s lives, and it is my job as a Congressman to give them the tools they need to make their work easier. This Teacher Appreciation Week, I am extremely grateful to all the educators in the First District and around the country and I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for a job well done.

Feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family.
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Tags: Education