Congressman Lynch believes that education is the foundation of opportunity in the United States. Working families deserve wages and benefits that allow them to support their families, put their kids through college, and enjoy a secure retirement. Students from all backgrounds deserve a first-class affordable education, from early childhood through college. A strong public education system ensures that children from across America will have the knowledge and training they need to succeed in this competitive global economy.
Preparing America's Students for Success
Quality early education helps children succeed later in school and has been linked to increased math and language skills and better classroom behavior. On May 2, 2007, Congressman Lynch voted in favor of legislation to reauthorize Head Start, the premiere early education program in the United States for more than 40 years. The measure, which was signed into law in December of 2007, improved program quality and expanded access so that more of our nation's children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed. Specifically, the measure increased teacher qualifications and authorized $450 million in new funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, providing up to 10,000 more children and families access to the program. Recently, on February 19th, 2011, Congressman Lynch voted against H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act. This bill would have reduced FY 2011 Head Start funding by over $1 billion. While H.R. 1 passed the House, it was not adopted by the Senate. Ultimately, Head Start received an increase of $340 million for this current FY, which was enough to continue serving the current number of children.
In addition, Congressman Lynch is committed to ensuring that America’s school facilities are safe and healthy learning environments for children. Recent estimates have shown that America’s schools require additional funding to bring them up to good condition. Accordingly, on May 14, 2009, Congressman Lynch voted in favor of H.R. 2187, the 21st Century High Performing Public School Facilities Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 275-155. H.R. 2187 seeks to make critical investments to modernize, upgrade and repair school facilities across the country. This legislation also seeks to improve education, create jobs, and encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources in our nation’s schools.
One of the major issues facing the 112th Congress is the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB, P.L. 107-110). NCLB, which amended and authorized virtually all programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) through FY 2008, is currently being discussed in the Senate Heath, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Chairman Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) office indicated that Democrats and Republicans are currently engaged in productive bipartisan negotiations on a bill to reauthorize ESEA. Additionally, the House Education and Workforce Committee has also been reviewing the law and holding hearings on the matter. According to Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) the hearings signal “that the majority on this committee is ready to move forward in a meaningful way with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.” Congressman Lynch looks forward to working with his colleagues in both the House and Senate during the 112th Congress in this reauthorization process with the goal of improving our country’s public education system.
The rising cost of attending U.S. colleges and universities is a growing concern as many students are finding that their dream of attending an institution of higher education is out of financial reach. Congressman Lynch is committed to ensuring that all qualified students are given the opportunity to achieve their dream by making college more affordable and more accessible for America’s hard-working families and students.
To this end Congressman Lynch has been, and continues to be, a supporter of Pell Grants which are need-based aid that is intended to be the foundation for all federal student aid awarded to undergraduates. These grants primarily support low-income students as 76% of all Pell Grant recipients had a total family income at or below $30,000 in FY 2009. On March 25th, 2010, Congressman Lynch voted in favor of H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, when it passed the House by a vote of 220-207. This bill, which became a law on March 30th, 2010 (P.L. 111-152), amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize and appropriate such sums as may be necessary to fully fund maximum Pell Grant amounts, beginning in FY2010. Additionally, because Pell Grants are of such vital importance in providing accessible higher education, Congressman Lynch voted against P.L. 112-10, which limited the number of Pell Grants a student could be awarded in the same year.
Education and Jobs
With approximately 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, Congressman Lynch believes it is time to take actions which will address the jobs crisis. Putting people back to work as well as enhancing school facilities will go a long way to promoting both the education of our children as well as improving the job situation of many current citizens. This is why Congressman Lynch decided to cosponsor the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act, H.R. 2948. Introduced on September 15th, 2011 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, this legislation would provide $25 billion to modernize, renovate, and repair at least 35,000 public schools. Additionally, H.R. 2948 would grant $5 billion to modernize community colleges. These investments would immediately create jobs for people working on a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal projects, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology infrastructure in our schools. Congressman Lynch truly feels that the FAST Act would improve the quality of education our children will receive at the same time as improving the economy and will continue to support this bill as it moves through the legislative process.