||This week, the United States House of Representatives voted on and
debated H.R. 609, the Higher Education Reauthorization Act. I voted
against this legislation because I believe we can do better by America’s
students. This legislation does very little to assist middle and
low income American families pay for college. As parents, educators, and
public officials we have a responsibility to ensure that students from
pre-school to high school and beyond receive the highest quality education
possible in order to provide them with the necessary tools they need to
succeed in today’s complex and technological world.
This legislation comes on the heels of $12 billion in cuts to federal
student aid programs – cuts that I voted against three times and the largest
cuts in the history of the program. Additionally, this legislation
comes just one week before Congress is expected to vote on the President’s
Fiscal Year 2007 proposed budget which fully eliminates 42 Department of
Education programs. While the President claims to be committed to
strengthening American competitiveness in today’s global economy, the President’s
proposed FY2007 budget freezes the maximum Pell Grant for the fifth year
in a row and denies more than 460,000 students low-cost college loans.
Since 2001 alone, the average price of tuition for a four year college
education has risen by 40 percent; however, college students have received
almost no additional assistance to overcome the rapidly rising costs.
This week, I voted in support of an alternative to the Higher Education
Reauthorization Act. This alternative would have cut interest rates
in half for students with subsidized loans and create a predominantly Black
Servings Institution program to boost college participation rates of low-income
black students, repeal the anti-consumer single holder rule, and create
a pilot program for year round Pell Grants.
As the son of public school educators, I understand the vital role higher
education plays in keeping America’s future on the cutting edge of today’s
rapidly changing world. The pursuit of education should not be limited
to those with the means to afford the prohibitive and mounting cost of
a public education. I will continue to support programs to make a
higher education accessible and affordable to all students who aim for
a brighter future.