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Pete high-fiving a child in South Carolina

Keeping the Promise for America’s Children

In high school, I took Ms. Julia Chismar’s economics class. She was the kind of teacher who poured tremendous energy into each day’s lesson. She sacrificed her time to mentor students, encouraging us to take on new challenges. Ms. Chismar always believed in me, I think more than I even believed in myself.

The promise we make in America is that every child should have access to an education that will give them the power to live a life of their choosing. I believe that the way our government approaches education should center on students, teachers, and parents.

America has so many teachers like Ms. Chismar, who enter their profession committed to unlocking students’ potential. Our classrooms are filled with students who go to school each morning eager to learn. And parents in every community want the best for their children, so that they have opportunities to explore and grow, to build on their knowledge each year they are in school, and finish high school with the tools they need to succeed in the world.

quotation marksThe promise we make in America is that every child should have access to an education that will give them the power to live a life of their choosing...But that’s not the reality for far too many children in America.

But that’s not the reality for far too many children in America. Far from putting our kids on a level playing field, America’s education system takes already vast disparities and makes them worse. Some public schools give first graders iPads on the first day; others struggle to afford textbooks. Some parents are easily able to afford quality early education programs, others struggle to find any form of child care while they balance multiple jobs.

My administration will focus on providing students the skills and the support they need to succeed by investing early and prioritizing equity. We will improve early childhood learning and resource our K-12 teachers and schools to ensure students can learn and succeed regardless of their family income or zip code. We will support parents by ensuring universal access to affordable child care and pre-K, and offering new programs to bridge the gap after school and over the summer.

And my plan will empower teachers. This is personal for me. When I met my husband, Chasten, he was teaching in Chicago Public Schools. I’ve seen up close the incredible challenges that educators across the country face—from late nights grading papers, to acting as social workers in addition to teaching classes.


K-12 Education Animation

quotation marksWe need to honor teachers like soldiers, and pay them like doctors.

Their earning power has fallen over the past few decades. Educators of color are underrepresented, even though their work benefits all students. And early childhood educators, who are predominantly women and disproportionately women of color, earn on average less than $11 per hour.Whitebook, M., McLean, C., Austin, L.J.E., & Edwards, B. “Early Childhood Workforce Index: 2018.” Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. 2018.

When we get this right, our kids will start kindergarten ready to succeed. We will trust teachers and their expertise. Our system will nurture students’ curiosity, creativity, and ingenuity—achieving better competency in math and language arts, and higher high school graduation rates. By the time they graduate, our students will be prepared to go to college if they choose. They will be equipped with the skills to start careers in well-paying jobs that fit our changing economy.

This policy is about more than just training the future workforce. It is also about preparing the next generation of citizens. When we strengthen our education system, we strengthen our democracy. And with these policies, we won’t just teach students about America’s founding value of freedom, we will embed it into the American experience for all.

K-12 Summary


Pete’s plan will:

  • Provide affordable, universal full-day child care and pre-K for all children from infancy to age 5, serving more than 20 million children with a landmark $700 billion investment.
  • Create over 1 million new, good-paying child development jobs.
  • Narrow academic opportunity gaps between students in high-income and low-income districts.
  • Triple funding for Title I schools to invest in a truly equitable public education system, no matter a child’s zip code, race, or background, and eliminate the wage gap for Title I teachers.
  • Launch the Education Access Corps to prepare and retain future educators to teach in Title I schools.
  • Double the proportion of new teachers and school leaders of color in 10 years.
  • Support strong unions for educators and staff and raise wages for early childhood educators.
  • Dramatically reduce discipline disparities in early education as well as K-12.
  • Expand mental health services in schools for students and teachers.
  • Give every child access to after-school programs and summer learning opportunities.


Part I: Early Education

The early years of child development are a time of explosive growth and possibility. But the quality of early education varies significantly and it is far too expensive for many families. In many places, a year of child care costs more than a year of college tuition. Where public subsidies are available for preschool or child care, complicated paperwork can make it hard for parents to access. Furthermore, working families must also responsible finding coverage after school and during the summer. Convenient, safe options can be in short supply; many families simply can’t afford the few programs that are available.

Pete’s administration will build increase quality, access, affordability, and equity in the early childhood system, prioritizing the child care workforce via support for credential and skill-building, coaching and mentoring, and long-overdue pay increases.

Ensure universal, affordable full-day early child care and pre-K for children from infancy to age 5 with a landmark $700 billion investment.

  • Build on and unify existing funding streams to finance a major new universal subsidy program, while also strengthening and expanding Head Start and Early Head Start into full-time programs accessible to many more low-income families.
  • Make child care affordable for all families, and free for those in most need. No family will need to pay more than 7% of income in early learning costs. This means an average savings of over $10,000 per child per year for those families making below median income, and significantly reduced costs for all families.
  • Provide families with exceptional freedom of choice by ensuring they can afford the high-quality early learning option that’s best for them. For instance, families’ options will include Head Start programs, local public programs, various private centers, or a high-quality home-based program that suits their needs.
K-12 1 Trillion Investment

The cost of child care is so prohibitive that my wife and I have decided to both become part-time workers and take the smaller paychecks. The amount of money we're losing this way is actually equitable to the cost of child care for two children, and at least this way we get to make sure one parent is always home. While this is still an affordable option for us, it wouldn't be had we not gotten financial support from our families. But we're the exception, and not the rule.
— Corey, Virginia

Promote equity across the early learning system.

  • Combat racial and socioeconomic segregation and bias through investments in equity, mixed-subsidy classrooms, transportation, and ending preschool suspension and expulsion.
  • Invest in transportation and program navigation resources to reduce barriers to accessing high-quality care, including spending $1 billion annually on safe transportation assistance.
  • Create a $10 billion equity fund to support, test, and scale new practices and innovative policies to bridge the opportunity gaps that hold back children from historically marginalized communities.
  • Expand access to dual language curriculum in early education.
  • Support families from the start with voluntary nurse and social worker parent-child visiting programs.
  • Invest in the foster care system and provide greater services to families undergoing trauma.

Make the early childhood system easy to use for parents and providers.

  • Offer early childhood programs year-round, eliminate “cliffs” that penalize families for increasing their income, simplify registration, and provide early learning program counseling.
  • Appoint federal leadership that prioritizes improving and coordinating early childhood supports.
  • Provide early learning program counseling to help families access the best early learning opportunities for their children through innovative partnerships with states and communities to build customized, culturally-responsive, and linguistically-accessible counseling services.
  • Invest in provider growth and quality through the Provider Excellence Initiative. Building on successful state and local examples, this initiative will enable early learning providers to seek support and financing for investments in improvements such as expanding seats and improving quality.

Invest in the child development workforce and create over 1 million new, good jobs.

  • Invest in early childhood wages and workforce development, including by investing $2 billion per year in workforce development funding for training, certification, and wage increases. Pete will also require states to set fair and appropriate payment rates that are commensurate with other similarly qualified professionals.
  • Support strong unions for educators and staff, as included in Pete’s comprehensive labor plan.
  • Expand and improve public service loan forgiveness for early childhood educators.

Improve our knowledge about child development.

  • Improve data linkages between early learning and K-12 systems.
  • Expand research on child development, including by providing $5 billion in new annual funding to the National Institutes of Health.
K-12 Educator Pay


Part II: Great Teachers & Great Schools

To combat inequality, raise educational performance, and prepare American students for the 21st Century, Pete’s administration will invest over $300 billion in new federal funding for Title I schools, invest in mental health, expand after-school and summer learning programs, and increase instructional resources for teachers. He will support creativity and excellence in the classroom, expanding access to arts and hands-on STEM learning to prepare students for 2054—not 1954.

Make our public schools drivers of equity

  • Triple funding for Title I schools. Title I schools—those schools with high numbers of students from low-income backgrounds—need more resources if their students are to have equal opportunities to succeed. Pete will triple funding for Title I to support additional services for low-income students above and beyond state and local funding resources, as well as to raise teacher salaries.

I'm a public school teacher in my second year of teaching. I adore teaching and I love all of my kids. I work at a Title 1 School where 75% of my students qualify for free lunch and 60% live below the poverty line. The most important thing to me is access to equitable education. My school building is falling apart, and we do not have the funds to build a new one. I wake up every day to try and do the best I can for the kids I adore. But I do not feel valued by a government that is funneling money away from schools like mine that desperately need it.
— Carly, Ohio

  • Close the opportunity gap by reversing inequitable funding structures at the state and local level. State and local per-pupil spending in the districts serving the highest populations of students of color in America is 13% lower than spending in predominantly white districts.Amerikaner, Ary and Ivy Morgan. “Funding Gaps: An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the US and Within Each State.” The Education Trust. February 2018. Pete will target his increased in Title I funding to support states and districts that implement equitable education funding formulas to provide more state and local resources to low-income schools—ending abuses like South Carolina’s ‘Corridor of Shame,’ a district with historically inequitable school financing.“Some Changes Being Made for Schools in Corridor of Shame.” Wis News. August 21, 2007.
  • Increase racial and economic integration of schools and neighborhoods. 50 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, most students still attend effectively racially segregated schools.Nonwhite Districts Get $23 Billion Less Than White Districts Despite Serving the Same Number of Students.” Ed Build. 2019. Pete will create a $500 million fund to incentivize and support community-led racial and economic school integration, which is proven to improve student outcomes. He will reinstate the Obama Administration's guidance on the voluntary use of race in state- and district-level strategies to integrate schools, immediately remove the restrictions on the use of federal funds to support state and local busing initiatives as part of local efforts to voluntarily integrate schools, and increase collaboration across federal and state agencies.
K-12 Students of Color
  • Break the school-to-prison pipeline by, among other actions, reinstating Obama-era guidance to address discipline disparities and investing in successful district-level solutions that reduce the use of exclusionary discipline, starting in preschool. Pete will encourage states to pass legislation that eliminates suspensions for discretionary infractions, such as “disrespect” or dress code infractions, where bias is most likely to seep in. He will also direct the Department of Education to issue guidance on non-punitive alternatives like restorative justice and positive behavioral supports.
  • Ban for-profit charter schools and ensure equal accountability for public charter schools. Pete’s priority is strengthening and investing in public schools to ensure that they have the capacity to best serve students. Because the profit motive distorts priorities in K-12 education, Pete will ban for-profit charter schools. He will promote comparable levels of accountability and transparency between charter and traditional public schools. He will work with states to ensure that policy innovations from charter programs that benefit students can be subsequently shared to strengthen the traditional public school system—and that educators in traditional public schools have the power to innovate in their own classrooms. And because public dollars should fund public schools, Pete will continue to oppose the implementation of any federal school voucher program.
  • Support students with disabilities, including by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), alongside other proposals in Pete’s disability plan.
  • Invest in English language learners and bilingualism.
  • Support Native students, including by significantly investing in funding the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), as fully outlined in Pete’s plan for Indian Country.

Support excellent and diverse educators

  • Eliminate the wage gap for Title I teachers. Pete will increase salaries for teachers, school leaders, and school support staff; support recruitment, training, and retention of diverse educators; and expand funding for supplemental services for students. Districts will be required to use the increased funding to first close the salary gap in Title I schools so these jobs are competitive with other jobs in their area that require similar education and training. They will also have to invest in additional supports for students, including mental health services and curricular innovation.
  • Support strong unions for educators and staff, as included in Pete’s comprehensive labor plan.
  • Establish the Education Access Corps to prepare and retain future educators. Pete’s administration will work with states to identify a select group of high-quality, multi-year collegiate teacher preparation programs to educate cohorts of aspiring teachers, including programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

Launch the Education Access Corps to prepare and retain future educators.

  • Pete's administration will select high-quality collegiate teacher preparation programs, including HBCUs, to serve as national teacher academies. Programs will include early exposure to classroom settings and training in cultural competency and combating bias.
  • Academy graduates will commit to teach in a Title I school and receive a portable teaching license.
  • Tuition costs will be covered as a deferred loan, of which 25% will be cancelled after three years of service and the rest fully forgiven after seven years of teaching in a Title I school.
  • Pete will also expand this program to early childhood educators.
  • Double the proportion of new teachers and school leaders who are people of color in 10 years. Pete will invest in diversifying the teaching workforce and growing the leadership of school leaders of color, who currently make up less than one-quarter of all school principals.DeRoche, John, Jason Hill, and Randolph Ottem. “Trends in Public and Private School Principal Demographics and Qualifications: 1987-88 to 2011-12.” National Center for Education Statistics. US Department of Education. April 2016. Districts submitting school improvement plans to states will also be asked to identify strategies to improve teacher racial diversity—which research has shown is a driver of success for all students—as a key component of their plans.Cherng, H.-Y. S., & Halpin, P. F. “The Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of Minority Versus White Teachers.” Educational Researcher, 45(7), 407–420. 2016.
  • Create the School Leadership Lab to increase the diversity of school staff so it reflects the diversity of the student body as a whole.
  • Launch a School Climate Innovation Fund to encourage states to test and scale school climate solutions, including for reducing discipline disparities for students of color and students with disabilities, as well as addressing mental and physical health needs, including trauma.
  • Recruit, support, and retain more special education teachers, especially in rural areas.

I am currently working as a union advocate. As far as education in rural and urban poor districts goes, adequate and equal funding needs to be addressed. Districts that are failing to meet the needs of the students need to receive additional funds to make sure services and supports are adequately provided and paid for to enrich the students.
— Lou Ann, Michigan

Prepare students for the future economy

  • Kickstart innovation in teaching and learning through a new $3 billion fund for research, testing, and evaluation of community-led education innovation goals.
  • Launch the Jobs of the Future program for Title I districts to provide students with apprenticeships through paid, on-the-job training in emerging sectors of our economy such as computer science, health care, and clean energy.
  • Make access to STEM learning and Advanced Placement courses more equitable.
  • Prepare students for construction and engineering careers by establishing the Infrastructure Accelerator Program.
  • Expand access to reliable internet service at public schools.

Strengthen schools as the backbone of our democracy

  • Prioritize federal support for arts education.
  • Increase funding to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
  • Increase federal support for community schools.
  • Ensure students are prepared to be engaged citizens by increasing instructional time in social studies and civics.
  • Create opportunities for more high school students to participate in national service.

I am a father of 3 children. I have been a stay at home dad since I medically retired from the Marine Corps in October of 2015. I just started going back to college this semester studying to become a high school history teacher. My goal is to educate future generations to be able to look back on history and right the wrongs of the past. To become intelligent, open-minded, caring, respectful young adults with a passion to stand up to bigotry and racist rhetoric, as well as all forms of hate. And know by doing that, they will become better individuals as a whole and set a standard for all the world to live by and hopefully live in peace.
— Michael, Louisiana




Part III: Wrap-Around Support

High-quality early education as well as excellent teachers and schools in the K-12 years are a strong start to supporting students—yet many of the factors behind student success have roots outside of the classroom. Once children start K-12 schooling, access to safe and effective learning environments remains extremely unequal during out-of-school time. Pete will provide support for these additional gaps in children’s skill development opportunities outside the K-12 system. His administration will also make sure that every school has the staffing and resources to address students’ well-being.

  • Level the playing field outside of school by ensuring all children have access to outside of the classroom K-12 and summer learning opportunities, including in art, sports, and STEM.
  • Prioritize mental health in our schools, including by expanding access to mental health care in schools and reinstating the Office of Safe and Supportive Schools in the Department of Education. Pete will also work to keep students safe in schools through comprehensive gun violence prevention measures.
  • Support LGBTQ+ students and educators by building a culture of inclusion that starts in the Department of Education.
  • Close the gap in access to school counselors at Title I and rural schools.
K-12 Summer Learning

The promise we make in America is that every child should have access to an education that will give them the power to live a life of their choosing. If you believe we should keep our word, text PROMISE to 25859.

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