April 10, 2000
Classroom Excellence Depends on Quality Teachers
Reform Packages Gaining Momentum
Over these past few years I have focused a lot of attention on education related issues. As a Member of the Education Committee in the House of Representatives, I am pleased to be in the forefront of changing our education system, working to give more control to parents and local educators.
The most important local educator is the classroom teacher. With that said, it should be obvious that recruiting and training top rate teaching professionals is a necessity for our local schools to be successful in educating the next generation.
The federal government cannot and should not be responsible for assuring that the best teachers control classrooms. However we certainly can change federal policy to make it easier for local schools to get the best teachers possible. Last week Governor Bush announced a battery of education proposals that I, as a member of the Education Committee, will likely have to review.
At first glance, many components of recent education proposals look quite similar to some of the things I have been working on these last few years. For example, the idea of teacher training has been very important to me. Together with my friends at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, I have been deeply involved in advocating improved teacher training. Southwest Texas has been a leader in finding innovative ways to prepare teachers to educate the next generation, and I was pleased to be able to assist the University’s acting President, Bob Gratz, to have the opportunity to address teacher training issues before a House committee this week.
The best way to ensure that our nation's teachers receive the training they need is to rely on the ideas of people at the state and local levels, like the folks at Southwest Texas. DC-based bureaucrats and politicians merely impose a one-size-fits-all model of teacher training on the nation.
Another portion of Governor Bush's plan involves removing federal regulations that hamstring teachers' ability to maintain discipline, a proposal similar to legislation I supported in the Education Committee this past week. I have fought an often-lonely battle to stop these federal regulations from being continued, so I am pleased to see others stepping up to end them.
The federal government has stood in the way of true teacher authority for far too long. By imposing regulations making it difficult for teachers and school districts to remove violent and unruly children, Washington has put handcuffs on teachers at great expense to local public education.
When it comes to recruiting teachers, I have introduced legislation to provide teachers with a $1,000 tax credit. I have suggested that we should not only undertake this program in order to improve teacher take-home pay but also to help reimburse teachers for the out-of-pocket expenses they incur.
In fact, I am hopeful that, with these issues now being placed "front and center" on the national agenda we will be able to move forward on them during this Congress. The idea of relying on recruiting and training great teachers as the means to educational success is mere common sense. And, the notion that we will best accomplish this by making it worth while for top candidates to enter these positions by increasing their take home pay and by providing them with the type of positive work environment that can best be assured by making the teacher responsible for the classroom, is exactly what is needed to reform education in this country.
These reforms, together with education-related tax credits that will give parents and students true power over school systems, will result in a real education revolution. During the weeks and months ahead I will continue working to get Washington out of the way of these common sense reforms, because in shrinking the power that politicians and bureaucrats have over education, we are undertaking the most important policy initiatives we can put forward for future generations.