Education is the key to American prosperity. However, for too long our public education system has been underfunded. Without the proper resources and priorities, many school districts are failing, teachers are not paid what they are worth, and the achievement gap worsens by leaving behind too many students – particularly those who are low-income and/or of color. We must address the problems facing our children today, so that they can receive the best education and training for the future.
The cost of full-time childcare in Minnesota is the fourth most expensive in the country. The average annual cost of care for infants up to 4-years-old is $14,169. That’s on par with the average in-state tuition for the University of Minnesota. While we should not lower our standards for childcare, this price is out of reach for too many Minnesotans. I support a significant increase in our investment for early learning opportunities. This investment is not only beneficial to the child but also to society as a whole. For every $1 invested in quality early childhood programs, we see an average $7 of return on that investment. By supporting children from the beginning, we create a path for enhanced educational and professional success while reducing the need for social services in the future. Investing in the cost of child care gives children the ability to start their education off on the right foot.
Our nation’s public schools cannot perform at their best without proper funding. This underfunding reality also includes our students who rely on special programs. That is why I support the IDEA Full Funding Act in order to ensure that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is fully funded by the federal government over the next ten years. The Fifth is also home to many schools that receive Title 1 funds; these are schools whose student population is at least 40% low-income and qualify for the free-and-reduced lunch program. While Title 1 is the largest education program funded by the federal government, this only translates into a meager $500 more per student. These marginal increases do not do enough for our most vulnerable students. I support increasing Title 1 funding so that our students who are most in need are given an equitable and quality education. All students – whether they are from a low-income household, have a learning or physical disability, are a refugee, or have English as a second language– deserve a quality public education.