WASHINGTON, D.C. | April 8, 2014 -
Today the committee will mark up two pieces of bipartisan legislation that will help improve the nation’s K-12 education system.
We begin this morning with consideration of H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy. This proposal will enhance the federal education research arm, known as the Institute of Education Sciences.
As we have discussed in committee hearings, parents, teachers, and school administrators rely on quality research to identify and implement the education practices that are mostly likely to raise student achievement in the classroom.
For example, the information collected and distributed by the Institute of Education Sciences can help rural educators determine whether a web-based tutoring program will improve students’ reading comprehension. The Institute’s research can also provide urban school leaders with valuable best practices for encouraging low-income students to pursue postsecondary education opportunities.
Mr. Rokita and Ms. McCarthy have carefully crafted a commonsense piece of legislation that will make smart reforms to streamline the Institute’s research centers, improve the quality and relevance of research, and encourage more timely dissemination of useful information that will benefit teachers, parents, and students. I urge my colleagues to support the Strengthening Education through Research Act.
The second piece of legislation before the committee today is H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charters Act, which my friend George Miller and I introduced last week. Similar to legislation advanced by the committee last Congress, this bill will support state efforts to start, expand, and replicate successful charter schools.
I recently had the opportunity to visit two charter schools in my home state of Minnesota: Global Academy in Columbia Heights and Aspen Academy in Prior Lake. While touring the schools, I watched kindergarteners learning foreign languages, listened to seventh graders animatedly debate their Constitutional rights, and saw third graders actually excited to be quizzed on their multiplication tables.
In every classroom, without exception, the children were focused and motivated. Teachers were innovating and experimenting with new educational games and programs, and parents were uniformly thrilled with the results. Charter schools like Aspen and Global are helping kids make amazing progress – and, perhaps most importantly, they are teaching our children the joy of learning.
Mr. Miller and I truly believe quality charter schools are an integral part of a strong and successful education system. We have worked together to develop a piece of legislation that will encourage more states and families to embrace charter schools – while also including several provisions to urge charter schools to share best practices with traditional public schools and reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, children with disabilities, and English learners.
The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charters Act will support choice, innovation, and excellence in education. Both H.R. 10 and H.R. 4366 should be an easy “yes” vote for every member here today; I encourage my colleagues to help us move these important bills swiftly to the House floor for full consideration.
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