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There is no question in our mind that Congressman Buck McKeon should be re-elected to congress. He has the credentials, the integrity, and simply has an incredible track record.
First and foremost, Congressman McKeon is “Mr. Education” in our book. He has done more for education in the 25th Congressional district than anyone before. As Chairman of the Education & Workforce committee, Buck McKeon understands the challenges of the “new realities” of the global economy.
Mr. McKeon’s major legislative accomplishment in the field of higher education continues to be passage of the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998, which reauthorized the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make college more affordable, simplify the student aid system and ensure quality. The legislation cut student loan interest rates to their lowest levels in 16 years, increased Pell Grant authorizations and provided incentives to control the costs of higher education.
Of significant importance, the legislation contained provisions:
Establishing a Performance Based Organization (PBO) within the Department of Education responsible for running the student financial aid system more like a business. Under the previous system, the Department’s budget for informational systems doubled over the last five years, but was still wrapped in miles of red-tape, required dozens of paper forms and suffered from needless processing delays and breakdowns. The organization will be judged on how well it serves parents and students and on how much it saves taxpayers by cutting waste, fraud and abuse.
Creating a program for the establishments of partnerships between local school districts and institutions of higher education to improve teacher preparation. Recently, Congress enacted H.R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, to expand and increases funding for the partnerships already authorized in 1998 to include quality professional development programs and provides more funding so that we can better prepare teachers for the demands of today’s classrooms. This will provide a major boost to schools in their efforts to establish and support a high quality teaching force.
Mr. McKeon has also been a strong supporter of increased funding for the Pell Grant program and the TRIO program, which provides an opportunity for a college education for low and moderate-income students. Recently, Congress provided $10.3 billion for Pell Grants, $1.6 billion more than last year and the highest level in the program’s history, and $802.5 million for the TRIO program, which helps disadvantaged students get into college and complete their degrees.
Mr. McKeon has also spearheaded the Upping the Effectiveness of our Federal Student Aid Programs (or FED UP) Initiative to identify needless or overly burdensome regulations within the Higher Education Act of 1965 to bring some sense to the regulations that students and members of the higher education community must deal with on a daily basis. The Initiative aims to streamline the current regulatory system to the extent possible, while maintaining or improving program integrity. Last year, his Subcommittee received over 3,000 responses from college officials, administrators, students and other personnel who operate America’s institutions of higher learning, laying the groundwork for the reforms initiated by the Department of Education and many in Congress.
Locally, Buck has made a tremendous difference at College of the Canyons and at CalArts. Mr. McKeon helped make possible the beautiful Performing Arts center on the COC campus. After the 1994 earthquake, it was Mr. McKeon’s efforts that help CalArts to recover from devastating damage that threatened to shutter the school for good.
There is no question that the West Ranch Beacon is throwing its support behind Congressman Buck McKeon. Our entire staff is voting for Buck come Tuesday and we hope you will too!