As a STEM educator of more than 20 years, I know the American dream is first ignited in the classroom. Education is the origin of opportunity in our cities and towns, and it is the engine of exceptionalism on the world stage. Now, more than ever before, the attainability of the American dream is imperiled by an opportunity gap in public education – a gap exacerbated by wealth disparities at the local level. It is time to shift the paradigm and to focus on ensuring the opportunity for success by assessing and then providing the fiscal and human resources according to the needs of each and every child.
A Quality Education for Each and Every Child
Each and every child deserves a quality education that ensures them the opportunity to do well. As a former high school teacher, principal, and school board member, education has always been my top priority. I believe that the greatest investment a nation can make is the education of its youth. Quality education assures the economic competitiveness of the nation, advances the arts and sciences, and provides the means for people to achieve individual success.
I believe that it is the right of each and every child to receive a quality education. Sadly, our separate and unequal schools and the mechanisms that determine funding for them have allowed educational inequalities to exist. The vast majority of students of color are being served by poor schools - under-funded schools with outdated, dilapidated facilities, crowded classrooms, and insufficient textbooks. To address the widespread disparity in the quality of education and opportunities children receive through the public school system, I introduced legislation to convene an independent group of educational leaders to examine the situation, and through my role as an appropriator I was able to create the Equity and Excellence Commission. In February 2013, the commission released a report outlining comprehensive recommendations to improve the public education system. To learn more about this issue, please see my webpage on educational equity. I will be working with the President, the Department of Education, and my colleagues in Congress to enact the recommendations presented in this report.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
For America to remain a leader in innovation and competitive in the global economy, it is necessary to provide children with a 21st century education. To that end, it is imperative to improve the quality, quantity, and diversity of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce. In 2008, I worked with then-Senator Barack Obama to introduce the Enhancing STEM Education Act which sought to enhance the coordination among state and federal governments to improve STEM education by creating a committee on STEM education at the Office of Science and Technology Policy and an Office of STEM at the Department of Education, instituting a voluntary State Consortium on STEM education, and creating a National STEM Education Research Repository. Portions of this bill were enacted in the America COMPETES Act reauthorization.
To build upon this progress, I have introduced various iterations of this bill since this time including H.R. 6248, the Elevating STEM Act and H.R. 3373, the STEM Education Innovation Act. My latest effort, the Stepping Up to STEM Act, will continue to raise the profile of STEM at the Department of Education, fund the development of educational technologies through an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-Ed), and foster collaboration within state STEM networks to establish common STEM educational goals. The bill is supported by numerous local, state and national STEM organizations, educational groups and business entities.
To instill interest and build a strong foundation in STEM, we must start in the earliest grades. To accomplish this, I introduced the Elementary Educator STEM Content Coach Act. This bill offers competitive grants to state educational agencies to develop a cohort of elementary educators with deep content knowledge in STEM disciplines, in order to train and improve STEM knowledge and skills of all elementary school teachers.
Additionally, to address concerns about America’s competitive position in the global economy, I introduced the INVENT Act (H.R. 1492), Innovations for our Nation’s Vital Educational Needs for Technology, in both 109th and 110th Congresses. The bill would develop curriculum tools for use in teaching innovation and fostering inventiveness at the K-16 level. Provisions of the INVENT Act were included in the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 5116), which was reauthorized in 2010.
Did you know that the No Child Left Behind Act (also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) law requires your child’s high school to divulge his or her personal information to military recruiters? I am seeking to change this through my Student Privacy and Protection Act (H.R. 392) (H.R. 392), which would reverse this little known provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that requires school districts to give military recruiters the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of students, unless their parents “opt-out” of the list. The Student Privacy Protection Act will change the military recruitment provision of No Child Left Behind from an “opt-out” system to “opt-in”.
I respect the right of an individual to choose to enter the military. I also respect the duty of the armed forces to engage in a recruiting process. Recruiting efforts, however, should honor the privacy rights of individuals and families. Many constituents brought this matter to my attention. Parents expressed frustration that their children were persistently being contacted at home by military recruiters, and wanted to know how the military gained access to their personal contact information without their consent.
My legislation would honor both the recruiting needs of our military and your family’s privacy rights. Parents privacy rights would be preserved since under my legislation information would only be shared with the consent of the family.
IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
We will not achieve equity in education simply from equal funding. There are many students who need additional resources in order to receive equal opportunities. To truly grant all students equal opportunities, children from low income households, English language learners, and students with disabilities need special accommodations and assistance. That is why I strongly support strengthening the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and have led efforts in Congress to fully fund IDEA.
Improving Assessments of English Language Learners
Navigating the American education system is a daunting task, especially for parents of English Language Learners (ELL) who do not speak English. Often, there is a communication gap between schools and ELL parents/guardians because of this language barrier. In the case that a native language assessment is not available for an ELL, I have recommended that parents and guardians be granted the right to request an assessment in the student's native language. This right should be clearly communicated to parents/guardians in their native language.
In addition to a written notice, I suggested that a community liaison be dispatched to communicate this right to parents/guardians. In addition, I have been working closely with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to include language in any ESEA reauthorization legislation that will require states to disaggregate data to capture all the sub-groups in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Teaching, Leading, and Learning
Teachers are on the frontlines of educating children every day, and thus it is paramount that America prepares the best possible workforce to prepare our nation's children. In the 113th Congress, I have prepared the Educator Preparation Reform Act which will address the challenges of attracting and retaining teachers who are well-prepared at rigorous clinical programs. In 2003, I introduced the Teacher Mentoring Act. Through bipartisan negotiations, I was able to get the bill, included in the Ready to Teach Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives. The legislation authorized grants to local educational agencies for teacher mentoring programs.
At the Local Level
Seeking to address the educational needs of the Silicon Valley region, I have secured funding for a number of innovative local projects including: the Synopsis Silicon Valley Science and Technology Outreach Foundation; the Resource Area for Teachers; Santa Clara University's Learning Commons and Library; San Jose Unified School District's Student Risk Assessment and Management Protocol project; Silicon Valley Education Foundation's Inspiring Education Excellence in Silicon Valley; Walden West Foundation's Science Learning project; the City of San Jose Child Care Tax Credit Outreach and Education Program; the Tech Museum of Innovation's Virtual Science Theater; renovations to the De Anza College planetarium; the Center for Training and Careers; San Jose Early Start/Great Start; Central County Occupational Center's fire science education program; and San Jose State University for educating the next generation of weather forecasters.
More on Education
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley), along with members of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, hosted a first-ever Congressional Forum on Violence Against Transgender Individuals. Honda also launched his Transgender Equality Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday.
Written with Randi Weingarten. Printed on November 17, 2015 in The Hill.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) introduced the Equity and Excellence in American Education Act to provide schools with the resources needed to provide each and every child with a high-quality education, and to encourage state governments and local school districts to partner with the federal government to adequately fund America’s public schools.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) introduced the Gun Violence Research Act to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the causes of gun violence, helping identify and treat those prone to committing mass shootings, thereby prevent mass shootings from occurring.
Silicon Valley, Calif. – Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) announced the upcoming launch of the second annual Congressional App Challenge (CAC), an original app competition for U.S. high school students. All high school students in California’s 17th District are invited to submit their apps for judging.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) welcomed over 170 eighth grade students from The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., to Washington, D.C. Honda and the students discussed the importance of having diversity in Congress, the need to provide a quality education for each and every child, and the issues currently before Congress.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) hosted a press conference with Ahmed Mohamed, the14-year-old student arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. Last month, Honda sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling on the Department of Justice to investigate Ahmed’s detention and arrest.
Washington, D.C. - Today Congressman Michael M.Honda (D-Silicon Valley) welcomed the arrival of President Park Geun-Hye of The Republic of Korea, her second visit to Washington, D.C. since taking office. The visit comes just days after Honda was awarded an honorary Ph.D. for his efforts in protecting human rights. Honda was recognized for his outstanding achievements to further cooperation and friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and for his work on political development for human rights and education.
Silicon Valley, Calif. – Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) recognized the 70th anniversary of the closing of Amache Internment Camp where he and his family were interned. He released the following statement in recognition of the anniversary:
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) introduced a House resolution to recognize the profound impact the Earth Sciences have on everyday life. The Earth Science Week Resolution would bring recognition of the field and highlight the importance and broad impact Earth Science research has on American individuals, municipalities, industries, companies, economy, and our quality of life.