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Mikulski Continues Education Tour of State, Hosts Roundtable with School Leaders in Garrett County
[June 02, 2011]

Mikulski Continues Education Tour of State, Hosts Roundtable with School Leaders in Garrett County

Jun 02, 2011 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today continued her education tour of the state by hosting a roundtable with teachers, principals, students and administrators in Garrett Count. The group talked about the needs of rural educators and students, and the achievements Garrett County Schools have made in the area of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

This was the fifth in a series of roundtables Senator Mikulski is convening around the state as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

"I always say, 'The best ideas come from the people,'" Senator Mikulski said. "Washington doesn't have all the answers when it comes to improving our schools. That's why I came to hear what the teachers, principals, students, administrators and nonprofit partners at the Garrett Engineering and Robotics Society think about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I want to listen to their suggestions and concerns and get their advice as Congress works to reauthorize this federal law. A good education can look different depending on where you are. I want to help rural schools continue educating students and preparing them for successful careers." Senator Mikulski recently was appointed Chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions' (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families. The HELP Committee will play a major role in reauthorizing ESEA.

Signed into law in 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) emphasizes equal access to education and establishes high standards for students. In 2002, Congress reauthorized ESEA as the No Child Left Behind Act with accountability measures for teachers and school districts. Unfortunately, the law was chronically underfunded and too often applied a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing some of the biggest challenges in education. This year's reauthorization is an opportunity to provide schools with the flexibility and resources needed to make improvements.

Senator Mikulski is a champion for rural school districts. She is a member of the Senate Rural Education Caucus, which highlights the needs of rural school districts by holding briefings to discuss federal policies that are important to rural schools. Senator Mikulski also has co-sponsored the Rural Education Achievement Reauthorization Act, which allows for funding flexibility in rural school districts and also makes needed changes to existing formulas so that funds are directed to the schools that need it most, as well as the Office of Rural Education Policy Act, which creates an office within the U. S. Department of Education DOE specifically for rural issues.

Today's roundtable was held at the Garrett Engineering and Robotics Society (GEARS), a nonprofit, club-based program that has a strong collaborative relationship with Garrett County Schools. GEARS operates afterschool programs, hosts technology summer camps and sponsors teams in state, national and international robotics competitions. GEARS works to increase student interest in STEM subjects, and has sent a number of alumni to four-year colleges to pursue coursework in the sciences.

"I don't believe one size fits all," Senator Mikulski said. "You know what your kids need. You're doing the hard work every day, at home and in the classroom, to make sure these children are on the right path. That's a tough and important job to do. I want to help you do it."

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