Access to affordable early education is essential to empowering children to achieve in school, and it supports working families who otherwise struggle to find affordable child care options. Too many families in Massachusetts and beyond work non-traditional hours, participate in the gig economy, and lack access to childcare services. Ayanna supports universal, high-quality early education that will give all children a head start and ensure equal access for all families.
Currently, funding for early education is not enough to ensure that center- and home-based providers can pay their workers a living wage while still keeping costs affordable for families, even with available subsidies. We must ensure that public investments in early education reflect the demonstrated importance of early learning to a child’s future success.
It’s critical that the federal government fully fund a public education system that will give equal opportunities to all students, no matter where they live. Every student should have the chance to learn the skills that will prepare them for 21st Century economy.
As a City Councilor, Ayanna demonstrated her strong support for inclusive instruction in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM); she worked to establish the Boston Arts and Cultural District and the Literary Cultural District because creative minds can be fostered with the right opportunities. And she believes that we can do more to revitalize our marginalized arts programs, which inspire creativity and develop unique skills in students.
Along with curriculum and instruction, Ayanna knows the importance of safe, up-to-date school facilities and providing wrap-around services for students. Students cannot learn if they’re hungry or if they are not healthy. She has advocated for a school nurse in every single Boston Public School. And knows school food programs are essential to students achieving their potential, which is why Ayanna fought on the City Council for more funding and a focus on providing healthy food options.
We should also focus on improving our vocational-technical schools and instruction. Especially for students who decide not to pursue post-secondary education, graduating from high school with the skills necessary to compete in our high-skill economy is essential. This requires that our vocational-technical schools have the resources necessary to provide relevant instruction on up-to-date equipment and practices.
And the recent events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schools – and other schools across the country – have, once again, raised the specter of gun violence in our schools. Ayanna believes we should focus on reducing the number of guns in our communities, and the idea of arming teachers as a deterrent is ludicrous. Instead, we should use those resources to support teachers’ efforts to do the jobs they signed up for by providing more staff, better technology, and more opportunities for professional development.
The student loan crisis is out of control – total student loan debt across the country totals more than $1.5 trillion and, in Massachusetts, 60 percent of graduates of four year institutions carry an average of $31,000 in debt. This crisis is constraining our economy and placing an enormous burden on students for years and sometimes decades after they graduate. Proposals by Donald Trump and the Republican Congress to eliminate public service loan forgiveness and end subsidized student loans threaten to only make the crisis worse.
Our representatives in Congress should be working to provide more support for borrowers as they repay student loans and investing more in direct aid to students, in order to help cover the upfront cost of post-secondary education. In addition, our Federal representatives must work with states and local communities to incentivize greater investment in higher education – including community colleges – which will help drive down the cost of tuition. Ayanna believes that no student should be denied a college education because they can’t afford it - she will push for a debt-free college plan that allows students to attend public colleges and universities without being buried under student loans that could hamstring them for decades.
For too many students, especially students of color, discipline in schools leads to incarceration. Ayanna has enlisted young women of color in public, private, charter and Catholic schools across Boston to be policy makers to reform school discipline policies that disproportionately impact student of color and put them on a pathway to negative outcomes. By focusing on restorative justice in schools and by using discipline techniques that do not force students to miss class time, Ayanna knows we can make schools a healthy learning environment for every student and break down the achievement gap.