- Place a 1.5% cap on student loan interest - public or private loans
- Increase funding to K-12 public schooling
- Set a starting salary floor for public teachers
- Stop tying federal funding to standardized testing
- End public school funding via property taxes and equally fund per student instead of the value of real estate- funding through property taxes results in unequal funding for schools that need it most
- Make public four-year universities debt-free by a combination of a loan interest cap, increased Pell Grants, and increased federal funding from a wealth tax
- Make community and trade schools tuition-free (S.2250)
- Expand after-school programs
The costs of obtaining a four-year public university degree has skyrocketed to unaffordable levels over the last 30+ years. During that same time frame hourly wages have stagnated, making higher education a fantasy for many when it should be a reality. This has led to a generation that is having to decide between investing in their education or investing in a home and family. This shouldn't be something that needs to be decided between. Everyone benefits when people decide to further their education. This shouldn't be a deterrent to start a family or buy a home. We need to work to provide a reality again where it is possible to comfortably obtain a higher education degree and build a strong personal life. It is never a bad thing for a country when a large portion of the population invests in themselves. This is an investment that pays back the individual and also pays back communities with a well-rounded contributor.
The issue of making higher education more affordable does not solely revolve around four-year universities. Two-year community and trade school degrees are very much included as well. In fact, for the two-year programs I am in full support of making them tuition-free. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has proposed taking it a step further for community and trade schools by making them tuition-free with the America's College Promise Act. The feasibility of providing tuition-free schooling for community and trade schools is much higher than four-year universities. Implementing a debt-free plan for four-year universities, plus making two-year programs tuition-free, creates a system that works and benefits everyone. Every single student, from every walk of life, will be provided with an option to obtain higher education at an affordable, or already paid for, price while not being limited to the career path they want to take.
40+ years ago it was entirely plausible to obtain a high school degree and make a good living, able to buy a home, start a family, and hold a strong job. That is no where near the reality we live in today. The trend in education for more than a decade now has been the continual defunding of schools at a federal, state, and local level. It's simply unacceptable for the richest nation in the world. This has sowed doubt in communities towards public schools and teachers. It is crucial that we reverse these trends by increasing funding in our schools so children grow up with a stronger foundation, so our teachers are supported, and so our communities are stronger. Teachers need to be compensated more so their value is truly realized. It is a tough career and we are doing them no favors by taking away funding and resources so they are forced to scrap by. We all suffer in this current scenario. I will advocate for a salary-floor for educators set to no less than $60,000 while also being tied to cost of living and years of service. This isn't about simply giving teachers more money. This is about making being an educator an attractive profession again. We are losing our best teachers to other careers simply to make more money, pay down their student loan debt, or simply have enough to live a comfortable life. It's about time we make teaching a career that is desired and provides a comfortable lifestyle for all.
It is vital that students not only have a quality education, but also are provided with quality extra-curricular programs to further succeed. Studies show that students who attend after-school programs perform at higher levels across the board. Not just solely limited to school performance either; students have better peer social relationships, a lower incidence of drug use, and less unintended pregnancies. These programs not only benefit students, but they also alleviate pressures on working families.
Much like K-12 education, funding has been continually removed from these programs. It's an obvious positive to students, families, and communities which is why it's such a travesty that these programs are not supported more. We need to increase funding for tutoring, teen centers, and summer programs to ensure we continue providing positive results to our communities.