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Elizabeth Warren: All Parents Want Good, Safe Schools For Their Kids. So Do I.

By Elizabeth Warren
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Before I was a candidate for president, I was a teacher and a mother worried about my kids getting a good education.

Dear Moms,

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Warren. I’ve been a public school teacher, a law professor, a senator, and now a candidate for president of the United States. But before all of that, I was a mom trying to raise two kids. When they were little, I worried about them all the time.

As a teacher and a product of public schools myself, I know how important it is for kids to get a good education. I expect you probably feel the same way. That’s why you’ve spent hours and hours trying to find a good child-care or pre-K program for your little one. That’s why you moved to a neighborhood with a better elementary school, even though it doubled your commute time to work. That’s why you got a second job, to put a little bit more money away for when your daughter applies to college. That’s why you’d move heaven and earth to ensure your children have a fair shot in life. And I want to help you.

I’ve got a new plan to make big, structural changes to public education in America. A plan that would give every student the resources they need to thrive, regardless of where they live, what they look like, or how much money their parents make. As president, I’ll invest hundreds of billions of dollars in our public schools — paid for by a two-cent wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million — and make a series of legislative and administrative changes so that all our kids have access to a great public education.

Currently, the federal government provides roughly 10% of K-12 funding, primarily through Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Under my plan, we’ll quadruple that investment to provide an additional $450 billion over the next 10 years. We’ll condition access to that additional federal funding on states chipping in more and adopting more progressive funding formulas. And we’ll make sure the money goes to the schools and students that need it most. This would ensure that both the federal government and state governments do their part to progressively and equitably fund public schools while still ensuring that no child gets less per-student funding than they do today. My plan also lives up to our collective commitments to ensure that students with disabilities receive the educational services they are entitled to by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, committing an additional $20 billion a year.

We cannot legitimately call our schools ‘public’ when some students have state-of-the-art classrooms and others do not even have consistent running water.

I’ll also invest an additional $100 billion over ten years in “Excellence Grants” to any public school. That’s the equivalent of $1 million for every public school in the country to invest in options that schools and districts identify to help their students. Like creating state-of-the art labs, restoring afterschool arts programs, implementing school-based student mentoring programs, and more. Those funds can also be invested in developing sustainable community schools — and the Warren Administration will have the goal of helping 25,000 public schools transition to the community school framework by 2030. Community schools are hubs of their community. Through school coordinators, they connect students and families with community partners to provide opportunities, support, and services inside and outside of the school. These schools center around wraparound services, family and community engagement, after-school programs and expanded learning time, and collaborative leadership structures.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Warren.

Finally, my plan will provide a surge of investment in school facilities and infrastructure. About 50 million students and 6 million adults spend their weekdays in public school buildings. Too many of these schools are dealing with leaky roofs, broken heating systems, lead pipes, black mold, and other serious infrastructure issues. According to the most recent data, more than half of our public schools need repairs to be in “good” condition. Our poor school infrastructure has serious effects on the health and academic outcomes of students and on the well-being of teachers and staff.

The vastly unequal state of public school facilities is unacceptable and a threat to public education itself. We cannot legitimately call our schools “public” when some students have state-of-the-art classrooms and others do not even have consistent running water. The federal government must step in.

I hear pretty much the same thing from every parent I meet. Red state or blue state.

These investments are just the beginning. We also need to ensure our schools are diverse and safe for students from every background. In a Warren Administration we’ll renew the fight against segregation and discrimination in our schools. We’ll work to ensure all our schools provide a warm, safe, and nurturing climate for all our kids. We’ll treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are, with the pay stubs to match. And we’ll put a stop to the privatization and corruption of our public education system. You can read more about exactly how I plan to do all of that here.

So what does all of this mean for you and your family? It means you won’t have to bust your budget to live in certain exclusive neighborhoods just to ensure that your children get a good education. It means you wouldn’t have to fight every day so your child with disabilities can get the services that they need and are entitled to. It means public school teachers and staff will have more financial security and more freedom to use their expertise to teach their students. And every kid will have the chance to go to a safe, enriching public school from pre-K to high school.

So far, I've been to 27 states and Puerto Rico on this campaign. I've done over 140 town halls, answered hundreds of unfiltered questions from voters and the press, and taken over 70,000 selfies. And I hear pretty much the same thing from every parent I meet. Red state or blue state. In big cities or in small, rural towns. No matter if you’re a Republican, Independent, or Democrat, we all want to know our kids can go to high-quality public schools where they will feel safe, welcomed, and able to learn. It’s what I wanted for my kids. And it’s what I want for yours too.

Keep persisting,

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Warren is a senator from Massachusetts and a Democratic candidate for president.

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