Throughout the years, I always told my sons and the players I coached that this country owes them only one thing — an opportunity. The opportunity to try, fail and get back up again. However, it is up to them what they choose to do with that opportunity.
As students, parents, teachers and faculty in Alabama prepare to start another school year, I am reminded of the opportunity that an education affords us. Alabama’s classrooms will soon be filled with young students who have the potential to grow up and make big contributions to our country.
But it is the teachers, coaches, administrators, faculty and parents who know how to best prepare our students for the next steps — not the federal government. The ones who arrive before the bell rings and stay late in the evenings. And over the past two years, these individuals have adapted to bring consistency to Alabama’s students during the most unconventional times of a global pandemic.
Our students’ educational success begins at the local level. That is why I helped introduce the Head Start Improvement Act to take the federal government out of education and empower our parents, teachers, community leaders and state officials to improve educational outcomes everywhere. I also helped introduce the Raising Expectations with Child Opportunity Vouchers for Education (RECOVER) Act which would allow states and local school districts to use their unspent federal COVID relief money from the American Rescue Plan to issue scholarships directly to low-income parents. These scholarships could then be used to help their children recover from learning loss due to the pandemic.
Additionally, it’s important for students to have access to nontraditional career pathways that provide them with opportunities to learn a trade or a skill and contribute to Alabama’s workforce. Our community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are doing a wonderful job leading the way in rapid workforce development, and my office has proudly supported their efforts to obtain grants that enable them to provide more opportunities for their students.
Sports is another crucial part of education that teaches students discipline and teamwork. Whether students ever play at the collegiate or professional level, participating in sports provides valuable life lessons that are also beneficial outside of sports. Unfortunately, a new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Education is threatening to ruin the level playing field created for female athletes through Title IX. I’ve proudly been leading the charge against this proposed rule, and urge others to make their thoughts known during the public comment period, which is open until Sept. 12.
I will continue to be an advocate for our students’ best educational interests so that they continue to have available and accessible opportunities.
Best wishes to all of our students, parents, teachers and faculty for a safe and successful school year ahead. Work hard and continue to take advantage of the opportunity to earn an education in the best country in the world.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs and HELP Committees.