Universal Pre-K. Tuition Free Public College. Erase Student Loan Debt.
Early Education: Providing children high-quality care and education from an early age has been proven to benefit both individual children and society as a whole. Yet, too many families can’t afford to provide their children the opportunities afforded to wealthier families. In some areas, there simply aren’t any programs available or those that are available are staffed by underpaid and underqualified educators. In Virginia, a recent survey of early childhood educators clearly reveals the “long-standing disparities in teacher earnings and well-being.” Especially during this pandemic, essential workers must act as both teachers and caretakers often without having the appropriate training or adequate compensation.
In addition, current school budgets are based on the property taxes of the neighborhoods in which the schools are located. This means that the wealthiest neighborhoods get the most funding and the best schools while communities who are already struggling receive less than they need. If we want to truly invest in our children so they can maximize their individual and collective potentials to become productive members of our global society, we must:
- Ensure all children have the opportunity for high-quality childcare and pre-K, regardless of ability to pay
- Ensure that early learning educators receive the training and support they need to succeed in the classroom, and pay them a living wage based on professional standards
- Pass the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act
- Pass the Childcare for Working Families Act
- Pass the Schedules That Work Act
- Make property taxes independent from school budgets
Higher Education: A college or technical degree serves as a ladder for socioeconomic mobility, especially for those in marginalized groups. Although multiple studies have shown related benefits, we have seen little progress in funding for racial equity within higher education since the last recession. At the same time, the cost of a college degree is getting higher, contributing to the increasing wealth gap in America. Additionally, the systemic inequality in higher education has gotten worse due to COVID-19. To address these long overdue problems, we must:
- Expand funding for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions
- Pass the Debt-Free College Act
- Erase student loan debt, which can boost America’s economy and significantly help narrow racial inequity gaps
- Enact tuition-free Public Colleges, Community Colleges, and Trade Schools.