As a father of three, I recognize the importance of reforming our education system. Few issues have as great an impact on the future of our children as the quality of their education. Education is one of the greatest equalizers in our society and serves as a ladder of opportunity for all those wishing to pursue the American Dream.

The top-down, one-size-fits all approach to education policy endorsed for so long has proven ineffective. Education is a personal experience and one best handled through state, local, and parental involvement. Whether we are talking about early childhood, K-12, or higher education policies, our children and their parents need more opportunity, flexibility, and quality when it comes to education. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in the 114th Congress, represents a meaningful step toward this end, providing state and local education authorities the tools they need to help their students better succeed. Streamlining spending, reducing the federal bureaucracy’s role in education, promoting flexibility and innovation, improving teacher quality, and empowering parents are all imperative.

Enhanced coordination at the local level and other creative solutions will provide more opportunity for our children. It will take a more intelligent and innovative approach if we are to provide the skills and knowledge necessary for the next generation to succeed. In addition, Congress must implement policies that spur our economy to ensure that young Americans continue to have access to a high quality education and good paying jobs that come through enrollment in traditional four-year universities, community colleges, and career and technical education (CTE) programs.

This Congress, I am sponsoring H.R. 1352, the Preparing More Welfare Recipients for Work Act, which would allow Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients up to age 26 to have their hours spent completing their GED count towards their work requirement – raised from the current age of 20. Additionally, it would allow individuals to count participation in vocational education for up to 24 months instead of the current 12 months. Many in-demand fields require more than two semesters of training, and expanding this timeframe will allow more individuals to pursue the rewarding careers a vocational education offers.