I am committed to making sure that every Kansas student has an opportunity to a quality education. The competitiveness of our state and our nation is directly related to the quality of our students’ education from pre-K to college and beyond. We must increase the number of qualified teachers in classrooms and maintain flexibility for state and local school organizations to tailor education programs around the unique needs of Kansas students. Additionally, higher education, including career and technical education, is essential for students to reach their full potential in their lives and careers.

In order to be successful, a school needs students who want to learn, dedicated teachers who are committed to helping each student reach their full potential, administrators who are goal-oriented, and supportive parents and community members who reinforce the concepts and expectations taught at school. Strong schools are the foundation for strong communities. Every child should have access to a safe classroom environment, highly-qualified teachers, appropriate school supplies, and the attention necessary to overcome a learning deficiency. Congress plays an important role in education, but must be careful not to pass federal mandates that restrict ingenuity, responsiveness, and development at the state and local levels. Since parents and teachers best know the educational needs of their children and students, Congress should allow local school districts to determine how to best use federal educational resources.

Accountability is important to ensuring strong schools, but federal initiatives need to contain a degree of flexibility that allows states to operate for the good of their students within the standards of federal legislation. In 2001, I voted against passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the primary source of federal aid to K-12 education, because it did not afford sufficient flexibility to Kansas schools. Education is a process that involves more than just preparing for and taking tests. As Kansas ranchers say, “If you want fat cattle, you need to feed them, not just weigh them.” We must prepare students for the challenges of life, not just standardized tests. As Congress continues to consider the reauthorization of NCLB, I will work to see that the reforms make this law less burdensome and more workable for our Kansas students, parents, and educators.