INVESTING IN THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN AND THIS GREAT COUNTRY BY FULLY FUNDING OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM
Growing up in a house with two public school teachers and union members, I saw firsthand the value of hard work and the benefits that come from a great public education. Rather than abolish the Department of Education (as some extreme Republicans foolishly promote), which would profoundly damage our nation’s future, I propose a commitment from our elected officials to increase per pupil spending to finally give our children an opportunity to succeed and compete in the 21st Century economy.
Invest in Early Childhood Education
The evidence is clear: investing in high quality early education dramatically increases the likelihood that children, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds, will become more successful students and better citizens. We need to expand our early education programs and funding, not cut successful programs that help our children in order to give tax cuts to the top 1%. In Congress, I will fight to increase investment in Early Childhood Education and will always work to give our kids the best chance to succeed.
Fully Fund Title I and IDEA
Politicians in Washington have cut federal funding for education by 20% since 2011. That’s shortsighted, harmful, and wrong. Investing in our children’s future is an investment in our nation’s future, and I won’t sacrifice our children by focusing on the wrong priorities. I support fully funding Title I (serving children of low-income families) and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to a great education. The dysfunction in Washington currently leaves both programs woefully underfunded: Title 1 has a $37 billion shortfall, and IDEA has an $18 billion shortfall. Washington’s dysfunction and inability to fully fund these programs has left our local school districts scrambling to meet their budgets, resulting in sacrifices to services elsewhere. I will fight for school districts to have the funding they need to provide all of our children the high-quality education we expect.
Give Every Child the Opportunity to Flourish in STEAM
America’s economic future depends on successfully training our students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). We’ve let our students down and failed to prepare them for the 21st Century economy, even while jobs in the STEAM fields are growing twice as fast as other fields. In order to reverse that trend, I support fully funding STEAM programs to make sure we train our children successfully and maintain America’s role as a world leader in innovation. Investing in STEAM education is particularly important for the 25th District given that we have long served as the center for aerospace manufacturing and development in the United States, and I will work to make sure we maintain our leading role as we transition into the new economy.
Attract and Retain Great Teachers
As the son of two exceptional public school teachers, I have firsthand understanding of just how critical great teachers are for giving our children the opportunity to thrive. Study after study has shown the important role teachers play in a student’s success, and yet right now too many teachers are underpaid, underappreciated, and overworked. I will fight to make sure we improve teaching conditions so that we are able to attract and retain high quality teachers who will provide the best opportunities for our children.
Provide Community College Opportunities to Everyone
Almost half of all college students in America attend a community college, and I will fight to make community colleges across the country tuition free so that even more students have the opportunity to further their education without drowning in debt.
Fund the Every Student Succeeds Act
With President Obama’s signing of ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) in December of 2015, the misguided No Child Left Behind era finally came to a close. ESSA is a fresh opportunity for states and districts to turn the focus away from testing, rigid achievement requirements, and a narrowing curriculum, and towards a teacher-influenced support and improve model. At the federal level, I will work to ensure we provide all funding necessary for our students, schools, and teachers to succeed.