As the father of two daughters educated in public schools, Senator Cornyn believes every child deserves the best start in life and that means access to a first-class education system. He understands the necessity of helping all children achieve their potential and knows that good schools strengthen our society by giving young Texans a strong foundation to help them succeed as citizens and individuals.
Senator Cornyn understands the results we want for our children require accountability for education providers but that federal bureaucracy and red tape keep us from reaching it. This is why his efforts in the Senate are focused on providing states and local school districts the freedom to design innovative educational programs that fit the needs of each child. He believes higher education provides individuals with opportunities for success and economic mobility, whether that means an associate’s degree, a workforce certification, or a bachelor’s degree. For this reason, he has supported expanding aid for low-income students, growing the number of high-quality teachers and principals, increasing dual-credit or early college courses, and implementing market-based reforms to federal loan interest rates to help students and parents.
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- Cosponsored the Educational Choice for Children Act to expand school choice and educational opportunity for students through scholarships for expenses related to K-12 public and private education.
- Introduced the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, now law, which provides resources for school hardening to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, supports school violence prevention efforts, and provides training to school personnel and students. The legislation also invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention. Learn more HERE.
- Introduced the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines (BIG) Act, now law, which helps identify how mental health professionals can best implement behavioral intervention programs to identify and address early signs of potential violence among school children.
- Introduced the Blackwell School National Historic Site Act, now law, which establishes the Blackwell School in Marfa, Texas as a National Historic site and part of the National Park System.
- Authored the Eliminate the Digital Divide Act to build out broadband access in unserved areas, ensure transparency and access to affordable broadband services for low-income individuals.
- Introduced the Teachers and School LEADERS Act to better support school leaders and allow for greater innovation in educator preparation to make sure both our teachers and school leaders have the tools they need to most effectively support the needs of today’s students.
- Authored the Jenna Quinn Law to increase training for sexual abuse prevention, recognition, and reporting for teachers and school employees, students, caregivers, and other adults who work with children.
- Co-sponsored the FRESH START Through Bankruptcy Act to restore the ability for struggling borrowers to seek a bankruptcy discharge for federal student loans after a waiting period of ten years.
- Supported more than $30 billion in emergency relief for education, including $2.6 billion for Texas, during the pandemic.
- Urged the Department of Agriculture to issue waivers to allow child nutrition programs the flexibility to continue after the unexpected closure of schools and throughout remote learning.
- Introduced the ACCESS the Internet Act to provide institutions like schools and libraries with $2 billion for hotspots and connected devices for those who need them to learn and work.
- Introduced the bipartisan Reaching English Learners Act to develop new teacher preparation programs focusing on the instruction of English Language Learners, especially in areas of high-need.
- Introduced the GEAR UP for Success Act, which helps empower local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to achieve the goals of increased post-secondary expectations and readiness, improve high school graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment rates, and raise awareness of postsecondary options among student and families.
- Introduced the Secure American Research Act, which would establish an interagency working group to protect federally-funded research and development activities from foreign interference, espionage, and exfiltration and would develop an agency-wide accountability metric to enhance cybersecurity protocols.
- Supported the Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria Education Relief Act, now law, which gives the Secretary of Education the authority to waive certain federal matching requirements so schools can more easily get the funds they need to operate.
- Supported the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), now law, which scaled back the federal role in education under No Child Left Behind. ESSA ends Common Core and represents the most significant devolution of federal control over education, returning many decisions back to states and local school districts. Many of Senator Cornyn’s priorities were included in ESSA, including strengthening the charter school program, restoring decision-making power to parents and teachers, and protecting the needs of English Language Learners.
- Sponsored an amendment included in ESSA to reauthorize the Education Flexibility Partnership Act to allow Texas and other states to waive requirements for federal education funding in exchange for improved education results and better accountability.
- Supported reauthorization of the Small, Rural School Achievement Program and the Rural and Low-Income School Program. This will support expanded and improved services for children in rural areas by permitting rural school districts to combine federal funds to serve an increased number of students over a larger geographic area. ESSA also reauthorized the Impact Aid program, which provides dedicated financial support for school districts that are impacted by the military, and creates opportunities for veterans to enter the teaching profession.
- Sponsored the New Hope and Opportunity through the Power of Employment (New HOPE) Act, now law, to encourage policies to help low-income, single mothers, veterans and those re-entering the workforce access the very professions most suitable to giving them a chance and meaningful work.
- Co-sponsored the Innovations in Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships Act, now law, which improves education and business partnerships in professional training and apprenticeships by awarding grants to technical schools, two-year colleges, and four-year universities in order to identify best practices for experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, apprenticeships, and online courses.
- Co-sponsored the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act, which provides low-income students, students with disabilities, and certain military dependents with scholarships to attend a school of their choice.
- Member of the Senate Community College Caucus, which supports the important role community colleges play in providing students with affordable access to higher education.
- Supported the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE), which updated federal CTE policies to help students gain the knowledge and skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs. This legislation simplifies the application process for states to receive federal funds, improves states’ abilities to coordinate with local communities and employers, and increases effectiveness and accountability by streamlining CTE performance measures.
- Voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act, which blocks Common Core and puts parents and local officials in charge of education decision-making.
- Supported the reinstitution of year-round Pell Grants to help low-income students accelerate their degrees and enter the job market earlier.
- Supported the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which consolidated duplicative federal workforce training programs for adults, dislocated workers, and youth. The bill contained provisions from legislation Senator Cornyn cosponsored, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act, and gives states greater flexibility to efficiently and effectively use federal and state funds to provide statewide employment and training activities.