Senator Boxer firmly believes that a quality education is the key to our children's success and our nation's economic future. She is a proud graduate of public schools from kindergarten through college and an outspoken advocate for improving our nation's public school system, providing early education to all children and expanding access to higher education. She has and will continue to work to improve our public schools by helping communities repair crumbling schools, reduce class sizes, and hire more highly qualified teachers.
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- Investing in Early Education – Studies have shown that children who participate in early education programs perform better on reading and mathematics achievement tests; are more likely to stay at their grade level; show greater learning retention, initiative, creativity and social competency; and are more likely to have good attendance records. Unfortunately, each year millions of children enter school at the age of five with almost no preparation. Senator Boxer wrote the Early Education Act and has introduced it every Congress since 1999. The Early Education Act would create a competitive grant program for pre-kindergarten education throughout the country, expanding pre-kindergarten education to approximately 150,000 American children.
- Giving Children a Head Start - Head Start has been the cornerstone of federal efforts in early education for millions of low-income children. Studies have shown that a quality early education program is vital to the intellectual, social, and scholastic development of children. Since its enactment in 1965, Head Start has provided preschool age children and their parents with educational, nutritional and social services. The goal is to make sure that children in the program enter kindergarten on a level playing field with children from more affluent families who may have had the opportunity to attend private pre-kindergarten programs. Senator Boxer has been a longtime supporter of Head Start programs and voted to pass the most recent reauthorization of the program in 2007.
- Making Child Care More Affordable for Working Families - Rising costs of child care strain many family’s budgets, forcing them to make difficult decisions on how to best care for their children. That is why Senator Boxer introduced the Right Start Child Care and Education Act, which would help make safe, reliable child care more affordable for working parents. This legislation would update and increase the amount of the Dependent and Child Care Tax Credit, increase the eligible amount for child care flex savings accounts, incentivizing employers to provide day care for their employees and encouraging college graduates to enter the child care profession.
Elementary and Secondary Education
- Investing in After-School Programs - In 2001, Senator Boxer worked with Republican Senator John Ensign (NV) to pass the first-ever authorization for after-school programs that many people now know as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Since first introducing her After School Education and Anti-Crime Act in 1997, Senator Boxer has worked to increase funding for after-school programs to ensure that every effort is made to accommodate the waiting lists of children who need access to after-school.
- Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act - In 2001, Senator Boxer supported the No Child Left Behind Act because she thought it would make a significant step toward achieving three simple things--reform, resources, and results. As Congress prepares for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Senator Boxer is committed to making sure the federal government follows through on its responsibility to fund education and to give schools the resources they need to improve and to meet higher standards. Senator Boxer also supports including mandatory full funding for special education programs, because providing full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act will ensure that schools have the resources to serve all their students – including those with special needs.
- Restoring Funding for Rural Schools - Thirty-nine of the 58 counties in California have U.S. National Forests within their boundaries, which qualifies them for critical funding to support their public schools. This funding was in jeopardy when the Secure Rural Schools and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs expired at the end of 2007, which forced many schools to implement extreme cost-cutting measures, including laying off teachers. Senator Boxer has consistently supported efforts to protect rural schools and fought to reauthorize this funding for an additional four years.
- Technology in the Classroom - Technological advances like computers and the Internet have greatly expanded teachers’ instructional capabilities and students’ educational opportunities. To ensure that both students and teachers can take advantage of these tools, Senator Boxer wrote the Computer Donation Incentive Act that provided an increased tax deduction for companies that donate new and nearly-new computers to elementary and secondary schools for educational purposes. Her bill became law in the 1997 balanced budget agreement.
Increasing Access to Higher Education
- Helping Students Prepare for Higher Education – Many students enter higher education with enormous challenges, often having overcome significant adversity in their lives. Upward Bound helps prepare at-risk and low-income high school students for college. During consideration of the 2007 Higher Education Act, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment by Senator Boxer to increase Upward Bound funding by $57 million each year for four years.
- Making Higher Education More Affordable – The Pell Grant program helps students and their families who struggle with the high cost of a college education. Senator Boxer has consistently voted to increase Pell grants to help more low-income students afford college. She supports President Obama’s call for increases in Pell Grants and mandatory funding for this important program. Senator Boxer also authored the law that eliminated the tuition sensitivity clause in the Pell Grant system that unfairly prevented community college students from receiving maximum Pell Grant awards.
- Helping Institutions of Higher Education that Serve Minorities – Educational disparities within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community are often overlooked – Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders overall have the highest college graduation rates of any group, yet only 13.8 percent of Vietnamese Americans, 5.8 percent of Laotian Americans, 6.1 percent of Cambodian Americans, less than 5.1 percent of Hmong Americans and only 13.8 percent of Pacific Islanders have college degrees. That is why Senator Boxer introduced legislation to create an Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AAPI) designation similar to those for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Senator Boxer worked with the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee to include it in the final version of the Higher Education Act, which allowed approximately 40 schools in California to receive the designation.
- DREAM Act – Senator Boxer co-sponsored the DREAM Act, which would help students from immigrant families by allowing states like California to determine the eligibility residency requirements for in-state tuition and admission to public colleges and universities.