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.
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...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.
We 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.
Pete’s plan will:
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.
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.
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.
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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