Education and Student Debt

Education and Student Debt

Supporting Public Education and Tackling Student Debt

I was fortunate enough to attend some of the best public schools in the country here in San Diego, and I want to make sure every child has access to quality public education.
 
In Congress, I’ll do everything I can to ensure students have a safe place to learn and educators have the training and resources they need to prepare students for the future. We need to adequately fund schools, and make sure we are doing it in a way that doesn’t exacerbate inequality.
 
I believe that Congress must compel the Department of Education to continue implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), particularly the opportunities it provides to low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. I oppose vouchers because they divert resources from our public school system. Further, we need to provide schools more support in helping immigrant students and families, including teacher and principal training aimed at supporting cultural and language diversity.
 
I will also push to bring federal funding back to the 40 percent level that was promised in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and work to ensure that funding actually reaches our schools. As a Member of Congress, I won’t supported federal mandates to our school system without providing schools with the requisite funding to implement them. I also believe the federal government should use Title I funding block grants to get states, which do the bulk of education funding, to create more equitable funding formulas. We also know that the community schools model, and school-based health centers (especially for mental health services), contribute significantly to closing the education outcomes gap, so I would invest federal funding in helping more schools to convert to that model. And I would make sure that the federal government creates laws so that for-profit education technology companies are not profiting off of our students’ data, and are adequately protecting the privacy rights of children.
 
Next, we know that access to early childhood education is one of the most important steps in closing the opportunity gap – so I will push for universal Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. We need to ensure every child has access to quality early childhood education so that they don’t start kindergarten already behind. Recently, California has made strides in expanding state funding for pre-K – but access to high-quality early education remains elusive for many families in California and across the country. I’ll push for significantly more federal funding for Head Start – including incentives for states to fund training and higher pay for educators.
 
I also believe that all students should have the option to attend college debt-free. When my father attended UCSD in the late 1970s, it cost around $300 a quarter. Recently, tuition at California’s state universities has increased roughly 60 percent – and those same schools are admitting more out-of-state residents to shore up their finances, leaving deserving California students behind. We also have to address barriers to higher education that go beyond tuition – like the cost of books, housing, transportation, and food – that are often the reason that students are unable to complete their degree, even with financial aid.
 
To make this a reality, I support expanding federal funding for Pell Grants and indexing that funding to inflation so that students receive enough funding to cover their education costs over time, as the Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act proposes. I support Department of Education trial programs to expand access to Pell funding, such as by allowing high school students to use Pell grants to earn credits at their local colleges after they finish their high school graduation requirements.
 
I’m excited about the College Affordability Act that has passed the House. I also plan to explore policies to improve efficiencies, cut costs, and raise graduate rates at colleges and universities. We also need to reign in unfair practices that drive up costs for students, such as deal-making between institutions and firms that supply necessities like textbooks, on-campus child care, transportation, and other campus services. And we need more oversight and accountability of for-profit colleges, that often target low-income students without providing them pathways to better jobs or increased earnings. I will champion more federal funding for college scholarships, particularly for student parents and students of color, and I’ll advocate for Minority-Serving Institutions.
 
We can also broaden opportunities for students through tuition-free community college and by supporting more career and technical training, including and especially for teachers. We need more incentives, like tax credits, for companies that create apprenticeship programs for students and hire recent graduates, and incentivize more institutions to partner with local schools to create specialty degrees and foster diverse talent from a range of educational backgrounds. We need to expand internship opportunities across the board as well as financial support for students who can’t afford to take an unpaid internship.
 
And we can’t forget young people currently struggling to pay off student debt. I will advocate for programs to help refinance debt to lower interest rates; allow those in bankruptcy to discharge student debt; and provide more debt forgiveness options for young people doing their best to open a business, invest in innovation, and improve their communities, whether through teaching, caregiving, or other forms of public service, by expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.