Ensuring Equitable, Affordable, and Quality Education
As a career educator in Waterbury’s Public Schools and the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, I know the power of education and recognize the role of education in providing access to opportunities for children. Education provides a foundation for economic stability and the beginnings of a lifelong capacity for empathy, compassion, and generosity. Our public schools are in need of robust investment to remedy inequities, provide much needed resources, and support teachers and staff.
As a Member of the Education and Labor Committee, I have made it a top priority to address persistent issues with the Connecticut education system for both students and teachers. I have advocated for a stronger, more equitable education by:
Robust funding for school infrastructure: American schools are in dire need of repairs – with 54% of American schools needing to replace or update major systems in more than half of school buildings. In particular, school heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems were most often in need of attention. To address this need, I supported the Rebuilding America’s Schools Act, which would invest $130 billion in public school infrastructure nationwide. Additionally, I secured $445 million in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan for Connecticut to replace lead pipes, including those that service schools.
Full funding for IDEA: The Individual with Disabilities in Education Act pledges to fund 40% of special education costs for school districts. Federal budgets have never fully funded that promise, leaving municipal and state governments to incur the cost. Every student deserves access to an equitable education that prepares them for success in life. I have repeatedly supported full funding for IDEA, including in the Build Back Better Act.
Expansion of Early Childhood Education: Child care is essential to the wellbeing of children and families – yet exorbitant costs make it out of reach for too many Connecticut families. I helped introduce the Childcare is Essential Act, which created a $50 billion stabilization fund for the childcare industry to ensure survival during the pandemic, and was included in the American Rescue Plan. No less importantly, I am an avid supporter of lowering the cost of childcare for American families and fought to secure provisions in the Build Back Better Act that would guarantee no American family making less than $300k must pay more than 7% of their income on childcare.
Supporting Teachers: I introduced a resolution committing to raising teacher salaries. I have also introduced legislation to improve the educator workforce pipeline, relieve student loan debt for teachers, and preserve educator jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Bolstering investment in our education professionals is one of my highest priorities in Congress.
I have actively advocated to make higher education and workforce readiness more accessible, affordable, and equitable. In higher education I have supported:
Lowering costs for students: In the 117th Congress, I championed essential provisions of the Build Back Better Act that would decrease the cost of higher education for students. In the 116th Congress, I supported the College Affordability Act, sweeping higher education reform which included 16 bills I led and supported. The package included critical improvements to higher education; the expansion of Pell Grants; expanded funding for Jumpstart, TRIO, and GEAR UP programs; student debt relief; increased funding for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions; and many more critical proposals.
Expansion of Career and Technical Education, Apprenticeship: I have supported the expansion of Career and Technical Education programs and Registered Apprenticeships so that students, and adults changing careers, can get recognized credentials to fill high-paying, stable jobs in the industries that will comprise our future economy. I co-led the National Apprenticeship Act to create one million apprenticeship opportunities over the next 5 years. The bill passed the floor of the House in 2021.