As Americans, we believe that all children should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. To make this ideal a reality, we need a strong system of public schools with the resources to succeed. We also need to ensure that every student who works hard in high school can go to college or learn a trade to be competitive in the workforce. When I served in the U.S. House of Representatives, I supported the largest increase in college aid since the G.I. Bill and, as a U.S. senator, I continue to fight for these kinds of investments in New Mexico's youth. I am also supporting programs to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are critical to our future economic growth and competitiveness.
Preparing Students for Graduation
We need to do a better job of preparing our students to graduate and succeed. This means finding fair ways to assess student progress and achievement, enhancing student enrichment programs, and investing in intervention strategies to keep our kids in school and improve New Mexico's graduation rate. This also means preparing students to succeed in college and to compete in the global marketplace.
Making Our Teachers the Best Teachers
We need our teachers to have the knowledge and tools to provide our students with a world-class education. That's why I support strengthening and rewarding teacher performance and master teachers programs. I also believe that we need to provide incentives for those educators who teach our most challenging students or in underserved rural or urban areas.
Making Schools Safer and Healthier
We have an obligation to our children to make sure that their learning environment is as safe and healthy as possible. This means renovating school buildings, improving school nutrition and health and physical education standards and programs, supporting after-school activities and encouraging schools to be part of the fabric of a community.
Strengthening Parent Involvement
Getting parents involved in their students' learning experience can help foster success. By encouraging communication between parents, students and teachers through projects like parent mentoring programs, we can strengthen the important pillar that parents play in children's education.
Fair Assessment of Student Outcomes
We know that children learn in different ways, so we should assess them in different ways, too. I'm an advocate for exploring ways to qualify -- as well as quantify -- progress and believe we should appreciate our students' different abilities in our expectations and testing.
Our Promise to Tribal Education
I believe in the solemn trust obligation of the United States government to help provide for the education of Native children, and strive to honor this responsibility in my work. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) offers another opportunity to improve the learning environment for Native communities in both tribal and public schools. Unfortunately, Native children have some of the lowest achievement scores in the country, and the poor conditions of many tribal schools compromise students' safety and their ability to achieve their highest educational potential. Our nation needs Native American students to graduate from high school ready for a career or college, and help their tribes and communities strengthen their cultural heritage and economic independence. The First Americans deserve schools that honor their unique culture and language needs, that can help enhance their educational experiences and build the future of tribal nations and the future of our entire country. I am working hard to find the resources to meet this trust obligation.