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Issues: Education

Providing our children with a quality education is one of the basic responsibilities of our families and our communities. That’s why Carl Levin has worked throughout his Senate career to ensure that the federal government partners effectively with states and local communities to help them meet the educational challenges they face.

Carl Levin has been an advocate for education since his very first year in the Senate, when he supported Congress’ creation of the U.S. Department of Education to promote excellence and equal access throughout America’s schools.

In 1994, when Congress passed the “Goals 2000: Educate America Act” to support reform, especially in low-performing schools, the Senate adopted several of Carl Levin’s initiatives, including an amendment to provide intergenerational mentoring and tutoring.

Then in late 2001, Congress passed the next major education reform bill — The No Child Left Behind Act. The No Child Left Behind Act was designed to focus on key initiatives that have proven most effective in helping all of our students succeed: smaller classes, after-school programs, technology, targeting assistance for lower-income students and students with limited English proficiency, the Safe and Drug Free Schools program, and teacher development initiatives.

Unfortunately, because the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress have refused to fully fund this key legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act has not achieved the results that were promised. Instead, it has become yet one more unfunded mandate pushed onto state and local governments, while President Bush has proposed the largest funding cut in the history of the Department of Education.

Beyond cutting the Education Department budget, President Bush has consistently underfunded the bulk of the No Child Left Behind Act. The President’s FY 2007 budget falls $15.4 billion short of fully funding the provisions authorized in the Act, proposing to eliminate many important initiatives that have already proven effective at improving educational performance, including all vocational and technical education programs, education technology state grants. President Bush is also proposing significant cuts to after-school programs, the Title I program, and special education.

Carl Levin believes that higher education is a key to opportunity in America. Rising college tuitions make it more difficult for working families with low and middle incomes to send their children to college. Unfortunately, although college tuition has risen by 46 percent since 2001, President Bush has proposed freezing Pell Grants for five years in a row. In 1975, a Pell Grant covered 80 percent of the cost of a 4-year public education. Today it covers half of that — only 40 percent. Carl has voted repeatedly for amendments to increase Pell Grant funding that have been rejected by the Republican Congress.

President Bush and the Republican Congress have continued to take our education policy in the wrong direction. Carl Levin believes we need to increase federal educational funding and target it towards recruiting and training teachers, reducing class size, repairing school facilities, integrating new technology into classrooms, providing after-school programs, and holding schools accountable for their students’ educational progress. Carl will also continue working to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act to reduce the burden on state and local governments and ensure teachers and students are given the resources they need to succeed.