Recent research suggests that high-quality teachers are the single most important factor in securing a good education. A student can take several years to make up for lost educational gains after one year in a classroom with a poor-quality instructor. If we want to improve public education, we need to focus on recruiting and retaining strong teachers, especially in high-need schools and critical subject areas such as science, math, and special education.

Our country is quickly approaching a crisis of competitiveness. Other countries are making tremendous gains in science and innovation. To compete, we need to confront this challenge directly at its source: our schools. Schools should stress proficiency in science, technology, engineering, math, and foreign languages, and incentivize students to seek careers in those fields. We should encourage scientists, engineers, and technology professionals to return to the classroom and use their experiences to inspire students.I have introduced legislation to make that easier for professionals by offering grants and loan forgiveness to those who choose to teach these subjects in high-need schools.

I also have introduced legislation to address the major cause of the nationwide nursing shortage– not enough nurse educators. My bill would provide grants to colleges of nursing to improve their ability to train, recruit and retain nurse faculty. Our efforts to place superior teachers in our classrooms now will pay dividends in the future.