As the first person in my immediate family to graduate from high school and college, Ketron High School and East Tennessee State University respectively, I understand how a high-quality education can lead to greater financial security and success. In my role as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, I will work to support legislation and federal policies that serve each student’s unique learning needs while seeking to strengthen and expand on the many potential pathways to success, including apprenticeships, trade and technical schools, and traditional higher education options.
I strongly support school choice and educational freedoms. Students and their families should be empowered with the freedom to choose their own educational pathways to prepare students for future success in our workforce. Further, I understand that local leaders know what is best for their communities and believe that education decisions should be made at the state and local level.
I have met with numerous education leaders across East Tennessee, and I am proud of the unique and innovative ways that they have provided students both in-person instruction and hybrid virtual learning models in a new set of circumstances. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant impediment to traditional learning, we’ve learned that teachers and students can return to their classrooms for in-person instruction and do so safely. This was helped in part by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed which allowed America to reopen safely while securing vaccine accessibility for our teachers, school administrators, and school volunteers.
To help ensure our schools across the country are reopening the ‘Tennessee Way,’ I co-sponsored H.R. 1498, the Students Before Unions Act. This bill would require that local educational agencies disclose negotiations with teacher unions as a condition for eligibility to receive COVID relief funds. Following news reports of external influence on reopening schools’ guidance from teacher unions, I signed a letter to the Inspector General (IG) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), requesting an immediate investigation into any external influence in CDC reopening guidance that may have contributed to a delay in reopening of schools, despite scientific evidence that classroom instruction was hardly contributing to community transmission.
I am deeply concerned about federal government interference in our K-12 schools and our children’s curriculum. Recently, radical ideologies such as critical race theory (CRT) have been promoted by the Biden Administration and can damage the development of students and threaten relationships for Americans of all races.
Therefore, I am aggressively supporting multiple measures to oppose the propagation of critical race theory in our K-12 classrooms. On May 14, 2021 I joined many of my congressional colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Education requesting that the agency immediately cease grant funding for the promotion of critical race theory. I also added my name in support of House Resolution 397 which expresses the sentiment of the U.S. House of Representatives that critical race theory is a prejudicial tool rather than an educational tool and, as such, should not be taught in our K-12 classrooms.
While college is not the best option for every student, helping make college more affordable for East Tennesseans who desire a college education is a priority of mine. To support college affordability for East Tennesseans, I signed a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriation’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education requesting strong support for Federal TRIO Programs. These eight federal programs identify and provide higher education services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
For more information concerning my work to serve the education needs of our youth and adults, please contact our office.