As the former superintendent of the Denver Public Schools and a father of three daughters, Michael understands the importance of a high-quality education to a child's chances of success. Yet more often than not, our schools are failing to prepare the next generation for the 21st Century. Our system of public education has not kept pace with our changing economy.
Michael believes that zip code you are born in should not dictate the quality of education you receive. Our country's competitiveness depends on fundamental transformation of public education that gives schools and districts more flexibility to innovate and make decisions in the best interests of our kids while holding them to high standards for all our children. Michael also believes we need to dramatically reform the system for recruiting, training, supporting, and retaining our teachers and school leaders.
Innovations should come from the classrooms and communities that are closer to our kids rather than from the lawmakers in Washington. Washington should look for ways to cut red tape and remove barriers to success. As a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Michael is working to expand access to high-quality and affordable early childhood education and care, improve the quality of higher education, ease the burden of student debt, and give every child the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
- Michael and Republican Senator John McCain passed a law to expand the Troops to Teachers program, which provides eligible veterans and service members with financial assistant to obtain educator licensing and certification to teach in our nation's neediest schools. The Bennet-McCain law lowered eligibility requirements to include more service members and school districts. Their bill was included in the 2013 National Defense Reauthorization Authorization Act, which was signed into law by President Obama.
- Since his first days in office, Michael has worked to fix No Child Left Behind to promote innovations in the classrooms. In June 2011, Michael worked his Republican colleagues on the Senate Education Committee to reverse NCLB's one-size-fits-all approach by providing more flexibility to states and local school districts and focusing the federal role on shared goals and outcomes. The legislation would have improved our ability to attract and keep great teachers and leaders in the classroom by creating career-ladder and mentoring opportunities. Although the bill was not approved by the full Senate, Michael continues to work with colleagues to advance policies that empower local districts and teachers through his position on the Senate Education Committee.
- In November 2014, the Childcare Development Block Grant bill, sponsored by Michael and Republican Senator Jonny Isakson, was signed into law. The amendment promotes a more integrated system of early learning and care programs by helping states identify where funding streams can better complement each other. Greater coordination among these funding streams will help ensure that resources are being used to their maximum potential and that programs are responsive to the needs of families.
- Michael along with Republican Senator Lamar Alexander have introduced a bill to simply the student financial aid process, reduce the 108 question FAFSA to two questions, and help make it easier for more students to go to college.