Nothing is more fundamental to the development of our children than a quality education. Senator Menendez was the first member of his family to graduate from college; he knows first-hand the power that an education has on a young person's life and the opportunities it unlocks. Beyond the impact it can have on individual lives, ensuring that all of our children have access to a quality and affordable education helps lay the groundwork for a stronger economy in the 21st Century.
Senator Menendez is committed to ensuring that every young person is able to reach their full potential. From fighting to uphold the federal government’s responsibility, to public education, to making college more affordable and accessible for all students, he has made improving educational opportunities a top priority throughout his career in public service.
As local budget cuts force teacher layoffs and threaten to increase class sizes, he believes it is more critical now than ever that our schools and teachers have the resources needed to ensure that our children learn in a safe environment that is adequately equipped to prepare them for the global marketplace. That means good teachers, safe schools, and manageable classroom sizes, to give our children every opportunity to reach their potential.
- Keeping Teachers in the Classroom. Supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Education Jobs Fund, which together have kept thousands of New Jersey teachers in the classrooms and off the unemployment lines. In addition, the Senator introduced the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, which would have provided $35 billion to create or protect nearly 400,000 additional education jobs and thousands of first responders’ jobs. Particularly, this would give $831 million in funds to New Jersey to support up to 9,300 educator, police, and firefighter jobs.
- Prevented student loan interest rates from doubling. Voted to prevent interest rates on federal student loans from doubling--from 3.4% to 6.8%--on July 1, 2012. If this increase had taken place, the average student would have been forced to pay approximately $1,000 more per year in interest over the life of the loan. More than 140,000 NJ students would have been affected.
- Internet safety education. Author of the School And Family Education about the Internet (SAFE Internet) Act to support and develop programs nationwide to educate schoolchildren, teachers and parents about keeping the Internet safe for children and teens.
- Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions. Authored the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act and succeeded in getting the CDC to convene a panel of concussion and education experts to develop best practices for concussion diagnosis and treatment.
- Access to Higher Education. Supported the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which eliminates huge subsidies for big banks and private lenders and reinvests those savings into education programs that make college more affordable, like Pell grants. The Senator also opposed and advocated against the Republicans’ proposal to severely cut funding for Pell grants, which would have devastated this critical program and made college unaffordable for many low-income students. Since then he has continuously supported efforts every fiscal year to keep the Pell Grant maximum award so that more than 9 million students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds can continue to pursue higher education.
- School Construction. Co-sponsored the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act, which would provide $30 billion for public school and community college construction projects, helping modernize at least 35,000 public schools nationwide. In New Jersey, it would bring more than $518.5 million in investments to support K-12 school infrastructure and help support and create approximately 6,700 jobs.
- Holocaust Education. Author of the Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust Education Act, which would make educational institutions eligible to receive federal grants to educate students about the lessons and impacts of the Holocaust. The bill is named in honor of Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor who devoted his life to seeking justice for the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.
- Science and Technology Education. Authored provisions enacted into law as part of the 2007 America COMPETES Act to increase the number of women and minorities in the science and technology fields and aid in revitalizing high school science labs in rural communities. Provision originally included in Menendez's Partnership for Access to Laboratory Science (PALS) Act.
- Tax Credit for Higher Education. Fighting to simplify the tax code and provide middle class families tax relief to help with college costs by consolidating the assortment of overlapping tuition tax deductions, credits and exemptions into a universal, easy-to-understand credit. Taking these basic steps would eliminate the complexity for families who have to fill out multiple formulas to figure out which incentive is best for them and which ones they may or may not be eligible for. It would allow these families to have certainty in how much tuition tax relief they will get to put their kids through school, and provide a simple tool for unemployed and underemployed workers so they can easily access tuition tax incentives to learn new skills.
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