As a father and grandfather, I understand the importance for families in South Dakota to know that educators have the tools they need to ensure children can reach their full potential.

Under Republican leadership, Congress has enacted important legislation to refine and strengthen our education system through the reauthorization of federal K-12 and career and technical education (CTE) programs.

By passing the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, Congress returned key decision-making to states and local education agencies, which has given South Dakota greater flexibility to determine its own accountability systems for schools and students. 

With the passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act in 2018, Congress modernized our nation’s CTE programs that will help address skilled workforce needs and prepare students for careers in high-demand fields.

Growing up in Murdo, South Dakota, the son of two educators, I understand the challenges communities across the state face in ensuring a high-quality education for all students.

South Dakota has more than 125,000 students across more than 77,000 square miles, and our school districts face different challenges than those even in neighboring states. For that reason, it is important for Congress to recognize the unique needs of rural areas as it considers public education policy.

I will continue to support education proposals that give schools the flexibility they need, while still holding them accountable to taxpayers, parents, local school boards, and students.

I will also continue to support federal education programs that benefit South Dakota, like the Impact Aid Program, which compensates local school districts that have lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal property or federal activities.

Additionally, I recognize that access to higher education can provide individuals with the opportunities they need to find success in their careers.  Unfortunately, students across the nation face challenges as the cost of higher education continues to grow.

That is why I introduced the bipartisan Employer Participation in Repayment Act with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). If enacted, this legislation would permit employers to pay back part of their employees’ student loans using pre-tax dollars.

I believe every student should have the chance to pursue higher education, and we must support legislation that will responsibly foster academic opportunities and address the problem of the rising cost of higher education. Additionally, we must enact policies that will continue to grow the economy and improve wages to support recent college graduates as they enter the workforce.

As your U.S. senator, I will continue promoting sensible reforms that expand opportunities for students and graduates to further their education and join the workforce.