A Message From Senator Richard Burr, September 16, 2011

This was another busy week in Washington where we debated many issues of vital importance to those of you in North Carolina and Americans across the country. Last night, I introduced a bill, the Empowering Local Educational Decision Making Act, that will improve America's education system by giving states and local communities the flexibility they need to meet the unique and varied educational needs of their students.

State and local school districts, not Washington, D.C., are the best makers of educational decisions. Unfortunately, in the last few decades, the federal government, believing it knew best, has exploded the number of small, categorical education programs in K-12 education. These new programs result in a loss of flexibility for local school districts and restrict their ability to determine how best to allocate federal resources to meet the unique and specific needs of the individual students in their schools.

My bill streamlines 59 programs into 2 flexible foundational block grants and allows school districts to transfer up to 100% of their allocations under these block grants between the two programs or into Title I, Part A. To read more about this bill, click here.

I was also proud to cosponsor the Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act which improves the Charter School Program by promoting the expansion of successful charter school models, encouraging best-practice sharing between charter schools and traditional public schools, improving funding opportunities, and allowing successful charter school management organizations and local education agencies to apply directly to the federal government.

Providing our students with a quality education is essential to their future success and to the continued competitiveness of our nation in the global economy. We must empower those most familiar with the needs of a particular community to make these imperative educational decisions, and we must enable them to design and fund locally-determined programs and initiatives that meet their unique needs to provide an education that is in the best interest of their students. I spoke on the Senate floor on this issue yesterday, and you can watch my remarks here.

Also, yesterday, I attended a press conference held by a bipartisan group of 36 senators who have joined together to express our support for the work of the Super Committee as they work to find a solution to address our nation's debt. To read more, click here.

On Wednesday, I met with 150 World War Two veterans from North Carolina who traveled to Washington on an Honor Flight trip to visit the World War Two monument on the National Mall. This trip gives these men and women the opportunity to see the memorial that was built in their honor, many of them for the first time, and to reflect back on those that fought alongside them who may not have made it home.

It is truly an honor and a humbling experience to be in the presence of these men and women who so bravely served our nation. I am deeply grateful for all that they have done for us and for their love of country and their strength of character. God bless them and all Americans who have served our nation in defense of the freedoms we so often take for granted.

Also this week, the Senate addressed the issue of FEMA funding for disaster relief. I am disappointed that the Majority Leader chose to bring up a bill that included no offsets for the funding even though acceptable offsets do exist. We have been assured that funding for FEMA disaster relief will be included in the continuing resolution - the bill that will continue funding the federal government -- that is currently being debated in the House, and it will be accompanied with offsets so that we can provide aid to those who need it without increasing our national debt. The bill proposed in the Senate by Majority Leader Reid this week spends several billion dollars more than President Obama requested to fund disaster recovery and lacks the offsets needed to meet the fiscal challenges of our country.

U.S. Senator Richard Burr