As I drive around the district, through towns like Falconer, Alfred, and Ithaca, it becomes more and more clear to me that our schools are not simply places of education. Whether primary schools or Universities, they are hubs of social activity and the central meeting points for communities. They are a source of pride — as well as anchors of innovation. Beyond their beautiful and inspiring historic architecture, schools are cherished entities representing an inspired path and channel forward for our kids and communities.
I attended primary and secondary public schools that offered a solid mix of vocational and college-track programs. My public school classmates went on to: found YouTube, become executives of large corporations, become heads of large city water districts, create construction and plumbing companies, and return to the district as teachers.
Out of our public school system come the education and character that has literally built the fabric of our communities and of our daily lives. I am a supporter of public schools, and I feel strongly that our children’s education should not be outsourced to for-profit corporations.
We have passionate educators and access to some of the most advanced materials and technology in the world. We need to offer educators the autonomy and flexibility to figure out what works in their classrooms, and to develop best-practice pathways that are driven by teachers, not legislators. We need to ensure that schools are again providing equal opportunities for both college and vocational tracks, and that the vocational tracks are connected to apprenticeships with local businesses and technical programs.
Our schools educate and inspire those who will be tasked with rebuilding our infrastructure, powering us with renewable technologies not yet invented, and stewarding our lands amidst a changing climate in order to feed a country.
I will work to ensure that our public schools receive the support they require to move us forward, to remain hubs for learning and community, and to be strong and viable entities.
Primary and Secondary Education
I wholeheartedly believe in the promise of public education, and have these priorities for improving primary and secondary education:
- We must ensure that educators earn a salary that is competitive with private-sector industries and one that allows them to live comfortably in the school districts where they work. We must offer incentives such as student loan pay-offs and term commitments.
- We must ensure that all school districts receive adequate funding, not just those districts with a strong property-tax base.
- I oppose taking funds from our nation's public schools via private school voucher programs or tuition tax subsidies.
- We must work to replace programs like No Child Left Behind, Race-To-The-Top, and Common Core with a teacher-driven curricula and assessment model.
- We must increase financial support for vocational and technical training programs, as well as for networking and apprenticeships with local related businesses.
- We must increase funding for both staff and equipment in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Math areas, so that we can compete in the global marketplace and find solutions to modern challenges.
- We must provide needs-based funding for locally sourced, nutritious breakfast and lunch assistance.
- We must provide needs-based before-school and after-school programming. I support universal Pre-K.
- When the federal or state government wishes to oppose mandates, these should be accompanied by the funds that schools would need to implement those mandates.
I believe every student who has the desire and the ability to continue their education beyond secondary school, should be able to do so, no matter his or her economic background.
- I support federal funding to states that would cover 100 percent of the cost of attending a two-year community college. The funding would be available for students whose families earn less than $125,000 annually, and it would also cover students who are forced to attend school part-time due to family or work obligations.
- I support revising and expanding both Federal Pell Grants and State Grants to cover four-year college tracks.
- I support the availability of a maximum state school grant amount that can be used by a student for any private or for-profit educational institution that is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. All grants will start as low-interest publicly financed loans that are canceled or converted to grants, pending the successful completion of an undergraduate degree, and if completed within a four-year period.
- I support federal refinancing of all student loans with interest rates above 5 percent, and allowing private student loans to be converted to direct student loans.
- I support increased federal funding for research and development in the sciences and technology.