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As a former schoolteacher I've had the experience of teaching in public, private and charter schools. I know what it feels like to teach in all three settings, and I can tell you the goal is the same: to give children the ultimate education experience. To that end, my conclusion is that public schools remain a fully funded guarantee and option. School choice may act as an alternative in communities that decide it, but these schools should never take away funding from public schools. 

In 2006, I graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis with a degree in education. Shortly after, I started my teaching career in 2008, and I've taught in some capacity ever since. Throughout my tenure as an educator, I can tell you that the goal has always been the same in each type of school I've taught provide students with the ultimate education experience.

As a teacher, this has always been my creed: set goals for my students, chart a clear path that provides the opportunities necessary to make the goals attainable, and finally provide the education and experiences students need to be contributors of society. When a society does not have a strong public education system, it leads to wide-spread unemployment, poor health, exploitation, and other forms of a broken country. 

Indiana's U.S. senators don't know anything about public school education in America or how vital it is to properly fund it. For example, as a previous representative, Senator Todd Young voted in favor of the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act (2013) which provided $110 million per year to teach abstinence in schools. I mean, can you believe it? I can think of 110 million different ways that money could have been spent differently to benefit America’s children.

Recently, our senators have done nothing except for to blindly support every piece of legislation that diverts funds from public school education. This kind of blind salute is dangerous as it will only devastate America’s public school system.

As a future U.S. Senator, I promise to work on the following in my first term:

  • Protect Public School Funding. Charter school funding and authorization is dictated by the states, but states receive funding for education from the federal government. The federal government decides how funds are received based on need. The question then is how much are charter schools taking away from public schools and how much can charter schools fund themselves? In order to prevent charter schools from draining money away from traditional public schools, I will work on and propose legislation that requires annual economic impact reports (from each state). These reports should be considered by officials before deciding to authorize additional charter schools and/or provide any additional funding. States' charter authorization laws will need to be amended in order to accommodate this new legislation. My main concern is that some charter schools (not all) are nonprofit organizations in name only and are structured in ways that individuals and private enterprises connected to them make money their top priority instead of educating our children. Let's work together to make sure options remain, but that no one is missing out on any funding opportunities. 
  • Expanding early childhood services and education in America is a must. Most Americans are admitted to kindergarten at the age of 5. With most learning taking place in the first three years, it’s too late to ensure toddlers and babies have a strong start. Let’s give our children a nationwide head start in the learning process by investing in early childhood education. 

  • Investing in increased pay and support for school educators nationwide. Teachers deserve a pay increase. Bottom line.  

  • Ensuring every child in America has the same access to a high-quality public education is important to me. As a former public-school teacher in Title 1 school districts, I was able to see the downfalls in the public school system. The downfalls aren’t a reason to completely annihilate a system that has stood the test of time and educated most Americans today. Instead, these downfalls should be viewed as opportunities to enhance the system and improve it. Students who come from families with low incomes should not be treated any different, but reliance on local property tax revenues means wealthier communities are often able to invest more money in their public schools than poorer ones. We need to work on finding better ways to properly fund schools across America no matter where they are located. 

  • Work to end districts’ ability to separate themselves from an already existing districts for discriminatory purposes and allow the Department of Justice and Department of Education to carefully scrutinize, investigate, and bring Title VI enforcement actions if necessary.  

  • Invest in school infrastructure and school facilities now. We need to take a deep look at how states and local governments are spending their federal funds and how the federal government can assist in providing more funds to repair and update school facilities in all areas of the country. 

  • All schools deemed as alternative sources of education to public schools (ex. Private Schools, Charter schools) must remain subject to the same level of transparency and accountability as traditional public schools. 

  • School Safety First: I will start by expressing my deepest condolences to the countless families who have lost their children by simply sending them off to school and the hundreds of teachers whose lives have been lost doing what they loved most. While I am against militarization policies introduced by the former administration (2020), I am for the investment of new and improved detection systems and devices along with added security and more guidance counselors. 

  • Introduce culturally relevant curriculum and multicultural education and training as a necessary requirement in all schools and universities. This is America! We must go beyond tolerance to acceptance and appreciation for each other. 

  • Create and support national testing and licensing reform: There is a way testing in general can be beneficial to all communities, but when testing acts as the only barrier to one’s life goals and achievements, it must be stopped. This is why I promise to work to create legislation which eliminates barriers to work and commerce, such as standardized tests, and other forms of archaic assessment which only inhibit the full potential of America’s workforce and business market. We don’t need tests. We need authentic forms of assessment that allow Americans to demonstrate their learning in multiple ways. 

    • Testing. In our primary schools, preparation for standardized testing has led to beneficial activities like gym and recess being cut out of school schedules completely. I don't believe test results should be used as a reason to close schools or fire teachers. Testing has been used to keep students from being admitted to the schools of their choice and as a result, prevented schools from receiving federal funds as well. Testing has kept some medical students from practicing as future doctors or nurses and law students from becoming practicing attorneys. This has undoubtedly interrupted American commerce. During the height of the COVID pandemic (2020), the Trump administration relaxed the telehealth rules and for good that more Americans could serve and help other Americans. Why do we keep creating barriers to the flow of American commerce.  

  • Provide a greater chance at success for differently abled students. Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975 which promised to cover 40% of the additional costs of educating differently abled students. I will make it a point to keep this legislation renewed and increase the amount of coverage for educating these students.

  • Addressing human and civil rights in education. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws in our public schools. Under a former administration, many of the guidelines were rescinded (2020). I promise to work with my colleagues to continually strengthen the department by giving students and parents the right to address policies that disproportionately harm students in a protected class both intentionally and unintentionally (disparate impact). I also promise to introduce, create, and support legislation which provides protection to students who identify in the LGBTQ+ community and especially those who have become victims of sexual harassment and/or assault. 

  • With respect to higher education, we need a general reassessment of purpose and ability to make college more affordable to the average working American. Our students must be job-ready and that means the ability to demonstrate competence. This goes back to my policy on creating curriculum which allows more hands-on learning through experience. Finally, we need to control costs and college completion support. Let’s explore ways to reduce and/or eliminate student loan debt and keep students from becoming indentured servants. 

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