I was the first in my nuclear family to earn a four-year degree. My parents didn’t have the same opportunities as they gave me. After the Navy, my father studied to be an engineer but left school in order to support our family. He was later able to earn his A.A. from Green River Community College during a period of Boeing layoffs, while meat-packing at night. My mother worked through high school to earn money for college, but ultimately didn’t go, because she didn’t have access to advice and support to make a plan work. So I was raised to value education, and had my parents’ full support to take the best advantage of every educational opportunity I could find. And I am extremely grateful for the counselors and teachers who worked hard to create opportunities that set me up to compete on par with students from great schools everywhere. At Auburn High School, we had a determined guidance counselor who fought to make Advanced Placement courses available to us, which was a pretty new and radical idea at the time. My biology teacher came to work an hour early each day, so that we could have a full two-hour AP lab. And my English teacher fostered a love of literature (and taught us how to write THE five-paragraph essay). There were countless others. The teachers, counselors, coaches, and administrative professionals of my youth had an enormous impact on the rest of my life by being willing to stick up for kids and create tailored opportunities. That’s why this issue is so very important to me. Education is key.
And that’s why, as your Congresswoman, I will fight for public education so that your kids have dynamic opportunities like I did – and I will fight for programs that support workforce training and apprenticeships for displaced workers and returning veterans. We’re at a dangerous crossroads for education. The current administration is aiming to reverse and delay the implementation of Obama-era rules that address the disparities in treatment of students. They want to make it more difficult for students to pay back their loans. They’re shrinking the budget and the influence of the Department of Education. And – incredibly – they’re looking at arming teachers as a response to school shootings. As your Congresswoman, I will defend our children and our schools, with these priorities top-of-mind:
- Supporting early childhood education, so that every student has an opportunity to succeed from the very beginning and are prepared when they finally get to the classroom;
- Championing Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) programs to ensure America’s continued leadership in an increasingly technology-centered economy;
- Expanding and enhancing opportunities for all students, including those from military families, those with disabilities, and those who are homeless or in foster homes;
- Helping teachers by opposing any federal role in teacher evaluations, expanding professional development opportunities, and improving teacher and principal pay and retention;
- Ensuring we are addressing issues beyond the classroom – hunger, homelessness, poverty, addiction among caregivers – that make it harder for students to learn inside the classroom.
- Expanding access to programs like the American Psychiatric Association’s “Typical or Troubled” and other evidence-based programs that work with school communities to improve student mental health and reduce stigma through early recognition, intervention, and treatment of anxiety, trauma, and other mental health conditions;
- Mobilizing funds to make our schools safe and secure learning environments for the school community;
- Making sure that the federal government supports education for those with disabilities provides them with the services they need to reach their learning goals;
- Ensuring that every student has the opportunity to pursue higher education by making college more affordable and student loans lower interest and easier to repay, and eliminating the need for loans for community college;
- Promoting community and technical colleges and apprenticeship programs as core and celebrated parts of our educational system, so that students with a passion and a plan to immediately enter the skilled workforce after graduation have more options;
- Supporting and expanding access to apprenticeships across the board, particularly for men and women who are looking at career changes, high schoolers exploring long-term career options, and veterans returning from service;
- Making sure that career training is accessible for those who are seeking to change professions or those who have been displaced from their jobs;
- Spearheading supports that ensure that students, those who are seeking to change careers, and returning veterans see all opportunities available to them, so they are not limited to certain tracks.
- Standing with labor unions to support, enforce, and grow apprenticeship programs through thoughtful lawmaking including ensuring federally funded infrastructure programs make space for apprentice-workers.