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As the mother of three kids, Kay knows that education is the most important investment we can make in our future – and the strength of the middle class depends on it. Kay serves on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, where she is leading efforts to update federal education policies to work better for students, teachers, administrators and parents. For years, North Carolina has led the way in education innovation, and Kay is working to bring that cutting-edge approach to the Senate.

Kay introduced the School Turnaround and Rewards (STAR) Act to implement intensive turnaround models in schools that are failing our kids, and reward schools that have demonstrated real improvement. Kay often says that no two students, no two schools, no two districts are alike, and she supports education efforts to increase flexibility at the local level so that those closest to our students can make the best decisions.

A child’s earliest years are crucial to their development and long-term success and productivity, and we can’t wait to begin educating our children when they enter kindergarten. In her role as chair of the Children and Families Subcommittee, Kay has made early childhood education a priority. Kay’s subcommittee is working to update the Child Care Development Block Grant Program, a key program that ensures young children in working families get the early education they need to succeed.

North Carolina has a world-renowned university and community college system, and Kay is working to keep the dream of attending college within reach for every North Carolina student who wants to pursue it. At a time when every penny counts for middle-class families, she helped pass a plan to keep federal Stafford loan rates from doubling and is co-sponsoring legislation to allow eligible student borrowers to refinance their loans at lower rates.

Kay is supporting North Carolina’s ten Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), each of which plays a critical role in educating tens of thousands of North Carolinians. She hosted the Chancellors and Presidents of North Carolina’s HBCUs at a summit in Washington where she brought together White House staff, Department of Education staff, and HELP Committee staff to engage in a dialogue about the challenges and opportunities before North Carolina’s HBCUs. Kay has also introduced a bill to establish an HBCU Innovation Fund that would strengthen these institutions through a competitive grant program.

Before serving in the U.S. Senate, Kay served for ten years in the North Carolina State Senate. During the six years that she co-chaired the budget, Kay invested in teacher pay every single year for a total average increase of 21 percent.