Rep. Chu speaking to children in a classroom.
Education is a proven pathway for success. As a former educator and school board member in our community, I understand the needs our schools face. We need to fully fund education programs, give our students the resources they need and ensure our schools are environments for learning. That’s why my bills provide adaptable solutions to the unique problems individual school districts face.
In tough economic times, we need to look at investing in education to keep our country globally competitive. But the No Child Left Behind law left our schools in a poor state, with teachers “teaching to the test” and leaving subjects like science and history on the chopping block. That is why I am pushing to change our education system.
We must ensure equal opportunity for all children. Our students need research-driven innovation in our schools to increase academic achievement and turn our students into critical thinkers, not test-takers.
Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities for Students
Across the country, many of our students face insurmountable barriers to learning. Research demonstrates that children are more likely to succeed in schools when their comprehensive needs – hunger, health, a safe and stable home – are met. In fact, a recent study from the Education Testing Service found that over half the factors that correlate with student achievement occur outside the classroom.
That’s why I introduced the Developing Innovation Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement Act (DIPLOMA) Act. Drawing from successful models across the country, it promotes a shared, systemic and comprehensive approach to education through the integration of services and engaging families and communities. Specifically, it provides formula grants for states to award to local consortia to coordinate, integrate and facilitate services to strengthen student achievement. The funds can be used for dropout prevention, family engagement, tutoring, extending learning services, health care and social support. The bill contains strong accountability measures, including independent evaluations to measure the results of grant recipients and identify best practices.
Pell Grants make college possible for over nine million Americans and nearly seventy percent of University of California students here in the 27th District. Financial aid helps American students achieve economic mobility and opportunity in this country. That’s why I have led the charge against cuts to Pell Grants so that every student, regardless of background, can afford a degree and keep America competitive in the global economy.
I was also proud to cosponsor the Pell Grant Protection Act (H.R. 1956). H.R. 1956 would make the Pell Grant program a mandatory spending program similar to Social Security, restore Year-Round Pell Grants, and encourage students to complete their degrees in a more timely manner, which results in less overall debt. This will help millions of American students better afford college and build a better economic future.
According to the Council of Graduate Schools and Education Testing Service, an estimated 2.6 million new and replacement jobs are expected to require an advanced degree between 2010 and 2020. Many professions like mental health services, school administration, and health services, requires a graduate degree, but can be unattainable due to the high cost of borrowing.
Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, graduate students were stripped of eligibility for the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan. Today, unlike their undergraduate counterparts, graduate students must pay for any interest accrued on their Federal Direct Loan while they are still in school. This can cost the student thousands of additional dollars over the life of the loan, and dissuade potential students from seeking higher degrees, or discourage graduate students from entering into lower-paying public service jobs after graduation.
That is why I introduced H.R. 4223, the Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt (POST GRAD) Act. My bill would reverse the provision of the Budget Control Act and restore the eligibility of graduate students to receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans. At a time when our country is facing a shortage of specialized workers in critical fields, we should be doing everything we can to encourage students to enter these fields, rather than creating additional barriers to higher education.
For many students who complete their education, they are faced with crippling debt and high interest rates upon graduation. I don’t believe the government should be making money on the backs of hardworking students, which is why I have cosponsored the Bank on Student Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, (H.R. 1434), which would allow borrowers with existing student loans to refinance at a much lower rate- just under 4 percent. Students should not have to struggle under the weight of outrageous interest payments on their loans while the government profits.
The total student loan debt is already greater than the national credit card debt, and saddling this kind of debt on the next generation of American leaders will hold them back from reaching their full potential. It’s an unacceptable burden for young people to should for the sake of a brighter future, and it’s an untenable policy for a nation struggling its way out of recession.
Providing Equal Access to Education
Many of our minority students attend schools that lack the resources and staff to provide them with equal educational opportunities. California schools with the highest enrollment of minority students and the lowest academic achievement scores have teachers with the least experience. It is unconscionable for Congress to continue to let these inequities exist when one of the most influential factors on student achievement is having a great teacher.
That is why I introduced the Equal Access to Education Act. This bill helps high-need schools to recruit, induct and retain the best teachers by:
• Increasing the number of teachers from minority communities who have the training, mentorship and resources to succeed;
• Decreasing the high-turnover rates for educators in high-need schools;
• Creating residency programs that induct teachers into the first years of teaching;
• Providing educators with the skills to meet the needs of diverse learners including English language learners and students with disabilities; and
• Ensuring that students of all races and income levels get access to teachers who are fully prepared to meet their needs.
More on Education
Accomplishments During the 114th Congress (2014-2016)
Bringing more federal resources to the San Gabriel Valley is one of my top priorities. This is why I partner with federal agencies to ensure that we have access to federal programs and funding that could benefit our region. I am proud to have worked with these agencies and the President’s Administration on the following initiatives.
"It is very important that California apply for this historic grant from the U.S. Department of Education, given the large and diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population in our state," Rep. Judy Chu, chair of CAPAC, told NBC News. "Statistics show a stark difference in educational attainment among certain AAPI subgroups, especially students in the Southeast Asian and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
Some AAPI elected officials also weighed in on the decision. U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement she was pleased the Supreme Court found no evidence that Asian-American applicants for the University of Texas at Austin experienced discrimination.
"As the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am proud to join the Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus in strong support of the 'Supplement Not Supplant' policy," Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) told NBC News. "It is time to stand up for students of color, and honor the civil rights legacy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 'Supplement Not Supplant' will go a long way towards educational equity by ensuring that federal dollars are used to combat educational disparities."