Knowledge is power, and education is the key to prosperity—everyone knows it.
The recent trend of slashing school budgets is shortsighted thinking that will result in an even greater long-term problem. The United States was already lagging behind other countries before budgets were slashed after the 2010 Tea Party wave. Money alone won’t solve all of our problems. But to cut funding when we’re already in a very precarious state defies logic and reminds me of the old and wise saying: “Penny-wise, pound-foolish.”
So, how foolish are we being? Almost 20% of teachers leave within five years, mainly because they cannot get ahead and care for their own families on the low pay. In the 113th Congress, I led a bipartisan fight to restore the modest tax deduction for teachers’ classroom supplies expenses that Republican Leadership allowed to expire. But we need to do much more.
Every child in New Hampshire, from a Head Start toddler to a graduating high school senior, deserves a first-class education. Then, after high school, our kids should have the option to continue their education at a university, community college, vocational or trade school, without being burdened with insurmountable debt, which is why I favor debt-free post-secondary education.
The student debt crisis has hit our state hard. New Hampshire students graduate with an average of $33,410 in debt—the second-worst in the nation. I was an original cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would treat student loans like any other loan by allowing refinancing. Back in 2010, I helped write and pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which switched wasteful subsidized private loans over to direct loans, taking out the middleman and making loans more affordable and secure.
But to keep students from having to take out huge loans in the first place, we need to control the cost of college. I’ve always been a strong advocate for Pell grants. The House passed my amendment that ended up increasing Pell grant funding.
One of my proudest moments in public service was when our Conference Committee completed the reauthorization of Head Start. I will always defend investments in education because they are investments in our children's future, our economy’s future, and our nation's future.