Washington, D.C. — This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Education Committee, attended a confirmation hearing to question Dr. Miguel Cardona, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education.
During the hearing, Senator Collins discussed the Department of Education’s misguided proposal last year to cut $1.2 million from Maine’s rural, low-income schools made available through the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP). Following bipartisan efforts led by Senators Collins and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), the year-end government funding bill that was signed into law included a provision to prevent a funding cliff for REAP. Senator Collins co-authored the law creating REAP in 2002 as well as the reauthorization in 2015.
“The Rural Education Achievement Program is the only direct federal support for small rural, low-income schools. For example, island schools off the coast of Maine have used it to buy technology to connect their students and enrich their learning experience. This program is really vital, yet last year the Department announced changes in the formula that was used to determine eligibility for the REAP program,” said Senator Collins.
“I'm seeking today, as you testify, your commitment to work with me to resolve the formula issue so that the rural, low income students across the country—it wasn't just in Maine that this eligibility change had this effect—will receive the funding that the REAP program envisioned,” Senator Collins continued.
“I recognize through the great conversation I had with you the challenges that rural communities face, and I commit to looking at this very closely if confirmed and working with you and others to learn more about how these issues in rural communities really need more attention,” said Dr. Cardona.
Dr. Cardona is Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education and has spent his career working for the Connecticut public school system.