Education is essential to a working Democracy, and is the great escalator of socio-economic mobility.
While states have the greatest capacity to make changes to their education systems, federal legislature can set an agenda, start national dialogue, and foster progress.
Our most recent reforms to education -No Child Left Behind and Common Core -have manifested in the form of measuring school performance through standardized testing. Having earned the support of many educators in Texas 3 last year, I have learned that standardized testing achieves little more than discouraging kids who learn differently and shame underperforming schools that simply need some assistance.
s it expensive to have the best education system in the world? No, considering that most top economic countries spend less per student per year than we do.
We can limit the use of standardized testing in the next authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
A great K-12 education empowers students to approach the complex problems they will face in the real world. In most states, a teacher’s efficacy is heavily judged by a set of scores on one test, which is also correlated with the amount of funding the school receives. Instead of preparing students for adulthood, we are molding their education to fit exams written by private companies. This also creates an unfair advantage for the more fortunate who can afford expensive prep classes for these tests.
I support limiting statewide testing to one performance evaluation in students’ last year of middle school and an aptitude-oriented test at the end of students’ 10th grade year to help students determine what courses to focus on in their last two years before graduation. We can trust teachers and school boards to decide the best way to educate our next generation.
A 21st century economy requires an educated, high-skill workforce. Here’s how I would make higher education more affordable and valuable for young adults:
Invest in people, by expanding eligibility for the Pell Grants.
Much like our healthcare coverage gap, there are many students in America who fall into a college funding gap. Their parents do not have a high enough income to put aside a robust education fund but are not anywhere near the Federal Poverty Level and therefore do not qualify for Pell Grants. I support increasing the threshold for this valuable benefit to increase opportunity to get a debt-free college education.
Invest in people, by incentivizing career and technical education, and degrees in majors in growing industries.
The quickest way to diversify our workforce is to offer more Pell Grant funding to students pursuing majors with a higher return on investment. We must encourage aspiring doctors, teachers, and STEM field workers to complete their education, and help them to do so at a low cost.
Tackle the rising cost of college, by working with states to regulate university spending, and increase their share of college funding.
Congress can allocate more funding, but it is up to the states to rein in the drivers of tuition increase.
Tuition cost has inflated 30% faster than healthcare, and almost 50% faster than the consumer price index. University spending on non-educational items has been on the rise over the last two decades, while other expenditures like instructor salaries have stagnated. There should be oversight to halt this rise in cost.
Current funding for colleges in Texas is down 17% from pre-recession levels, causing (predictably) tuition to rise for working families. States should commit to investing in their citizens and restore funding to historical levels.