Our economy is rapidly changing because of the pandemic and the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. Education will be more important than ever in the new economy. The Federal Government must play a role in supporting families, states, and school districts so that our children can have the future they deserve.
Universal Day Care:We know that the first several years of a child’s life are critical to their development, but we also know that children can fall behind in their studies over the course of the summer. We must provide families with support in raising their children, both before they are school age and then when our schools cannot provide that service.
Universal Pre-K:The data to support universal Pre-K is overwhelming, particularly for demographics that have historically been disadvantaged in terms of educational opportunity and outcome.
Community and State College:The cost of tuition is a significant hurdle for aspiring students, and loans or scholarships are not enough for many people. The Federal Government must provide state-matched financial support for college entry tests and college applications for financially deserving children. In addition, there needs to be matching funding support programs to cover the associated costs of books, food, housing, tutoring, and counseling for students from low-income families that wish to attend community college, state schools, or public universities.
For-Profit Colleges:All too often a for-profit college is just a marketing scam designed to take advantage of student loan programs. We must re-establish the gainful employment requirement to keep for-profit colleges accountable for student outcomes and keep debt-to-earnings ratios under control.
Vocational Programs:Access to vocational training, especially for people of color and women, needs to be prioritized. America is built on the efforts of blue-collar work, and our education system must more fully recognize the essential nature of vocational programs.
Retraining:The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. We have already gotten a taste of what globalization can do to our jobs. We must be prepared for rapid changes in technology. We need to establish standing block grants for community colleges and local school districts to retrain. Grants must be tied to accepting workers from affected industries and training them for industries that match their pre-existing skill sets. Not all coal miners will want to learn how to code, but it is my guess they’d be excellent at building out our public infrastructure.
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