EDUCATION

In the 2018 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), an international exam measuring 15-year-olds reading, math, and science, the United States ranked 37th in math and 18th in science literacy out of 79 countries.  With countries like China, Estonia, Korea, and Canada consistently outperforming us as a nation, the United States is falling behind in education and losing the prestige we once carried as a superpower of innovation and growth. Education is absolutely essential to determine the economy, quality of life, and success of our students and nation. Without the needed reform to the access and level of education in our country today, we risk failing our future students and losing our place as an international leader.

Education is the foundation of our country, pushing our society forward. Add your name to support rebuilding our education system for the future.

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TERTIARY EDUCATION

In 2021, 43.4 million borrowers were in debt due to student loans an average of $37,113 in the United States. These numbers grow 6 times faster than our nation’s economy, damaging past and future learners, increasing the racial wealth gap and financial insecurity. To truly support the importance of education and students, I am calling on President Biden to take executive action for the cancellation of up to $50,000 in student loans. The cancellation of the student debt would reduce the racial wealth gap, stimulate the economy through more spending and taxable income, and increase quality of life for borrowers. Some researchers have proposed that through subsidizing loans, people may become more reliant on future bailouts and get further in debt. However, little research has been found to support such a claim. In fact, the increasing student loans are caused by more students going to college and borrowing more money and more loans than previous students. The increased number of loans is in part due to increasing tuition rates which, contrary to other voices in the education debate, federal aid has not been able to reduce. Instead, the increasing rates are caused by less subsidies for public universities and more spending per student and less non-tuition revenue for private universities. Additionally, I advocate for the restructuring of the federal loan forgiveness programs to ensure that they benefit who they have been designed to aid, through updating eligibility and reducing complexity of the system. I believe we should set up outreach and information campaigns to better educate borrowers about existing programs in place and their eligibility, especially with programs such as income-driven repayment plans.

Community colleges are an essential pathway for students to gain valuable skills and experience for later careers, a path in which 35% of all undergraduates in the U.S. and 1.8 million California students are enrolled in. By providing federal funding for free community college for all through a progressive, joint payment system with the federal and state governments, we can promote higher college enrollment and higher wages of minorities, lower student loan default rates, close the achievement gap, and increase student completion rates. Through the funding, we can not only support students, but also the colleges themselves that have been hit hard from the pandemic.

 

Additionally, the Pell Award is the greatest federal grant provider for postsecondary education, with 6.2 students nationwide receiving the award in the 2020-2021 school year. The grant equalizes access to further education by allowing students from all different financial backgrounds to pursue a post-secondary education. However, today, the maximum award only covers around 28% of the cost to attend a 4-year public university, thus forcing students to take out further loans and forcing them into debt. To truly equalize access to tertiary education, I support the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act of 2021 to expand eligibility and maximum possible grants to reduce needs for additional loans and further student debt.

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Credit: Heimsath Architects

K-12 EDUCATION

In today’s educational system, many students are falling behind due to their individual circumstances, such as socio-economic status, family issues and more. As these particular conditions impact student’s learning ability and education, they threaten to worsen achievement inequality especially for minority students where these issues are more common. To grant students an education that supports them at all ages, I support federal funding for state expansion of public schools to include universal pre-kindergarten for all children aged 3-5. Students who attend pre-K end up being less dependent on welfare, have better educational outcomes (like scoring better in reading and math in standardized exams and taking honors classes), and generally have better social and environmental behaviors. Also, the system helps lower the motherhood penalty, which increases the wage gap between men and women, allowing more women to return to the workforce. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth found that benefits from pre-K surpass the investment of $60 billion in the program more than 3 times through increased economic, job, and tax revenue growth.

 

However, universal pre-K may hurt already suffering small, private childcare businesses, where space is already limited with increasing costs. As the childcare facilities may lose their older children to public pre-K centers, they would lose revenue. Often, this forces the business to reduce their quality or shut down altogether. Thus, to keep the small business afloat, I support the addition of a Infant and Toddler Slot Preservation Fund, modeled after the Multnomah County Universal pre-K plan in Oregon, to provide incentives for providers to retain spots for younger children and increase their educator wages. 

One in five students in the United States have learning and thinking disabilities and 2.3 million public school students have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for learning disabilities. However, many students are being left behind with the current Common Core State Standards that outline standard academic objectives. Goals like the English language arts goals are largely unmet and a majority of teachers feel incapable of teaching the standards to students with learning disabilities. To provide both students and teachers with the support they need, I support the amendment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, an act that established and provides funding for free public education to students with disabilities, to require that IEPs include supplemental goals and lesson plans that provide diverse instruction methods. To allow teachers to better meet the needs of special education students, I believe we must provide relevant professional development opportunities and technical assistance to teachers working with special education students. 

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Teachers are at the forefront of education in the United States and not only help in building student skills and knowledge, but also in the formation of the student as a person. However, teachers lack the prestige and respect in our society. Not only do schools all over the nation suffer from teacher shortages, they also experience a lack of staff diversity. A study based on the American Community Survey found that 75.1% and 80.1% of administrators and teachers, respectively, are white. To encourage teacher diversity and to combat teacher shortages, I support increasing funding of loan forgiveness programs like the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act of 2021, which describes increasing the amount of loan forgiveness available for certain qualified teachers who have federal student loans, in addition to programs such as relocation assistance and alternative certification processes to potential teachers. I also support the implementation and development of additional mentorship and leadership programs in schools to draw greater numbers of young people of color into teaching, especially in leadership.

The skills and knowledge needed for success in the modern day are constantly changing and our education system must be able to keep up and provide students with the education they require and deserve. I believe in promoting STEAM education in pre-kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school students, especially in focusing on uplifting women and minorities, through the Supporting STEM Learning Opportunities Act, a bill providing grants to local educational agencies to support hands-on learning programs and after school activities. Additionally, technology and computer science are growing fields and becoming increasingly integrated into our lives. To promote its importance and work towards implementing computer science curricula in our schools, we must first prepare and properly educate teachers. To do so, I believe in the establishment of supplemental teacher training programs for computer science, in addition to ensuring access to high-quality learning resources for K-12 students, through state and local educational agencies grants. Through acts like the Teach CS Act and Computer Science for All Act of 2021, which award grants to states, local educational agencies, and institutions of education to establish such teacher programs, we can create an education system better-equipped for today and tomorrow. 


Not only is technology creating more important subjects to be taught, it is also shifting the way that we teach our existing topics. With unbounded access to information through the internet, open note exams, in contrast to traditional closed note exams, allow students to develop higher-order thinking and problem solving skills.  When students can accurately synthesize and form conclusions based on their notes as compared to unnecessary memorization, students are less likely to cheat and have testing anxiety, creating a more realistic assessment in a real-world environment. To accurately prepare students for their futures, I support efforts to amend required standards for statewide assessments mandated under the Every Student Succeeds Act to be a partially open resource. This allows students to access notes and handouts, teaching them to use and organize their available resources in the most efficient way possible.

ENDORSE THE CAMPAIGN!