Equitable access to high-quality education is vital to addressing inequities in our communities and closing persistent opportunity gaps. From early education through continuing and adult education, an affordable, quality education system accessible to all residents helps reduce poverty, improve public health, and reduce negative outcomes like addiction and incarceration.
In order to address existing inequities in our education system, we must make the investments in public education that allow us to attract, develop, and retain world-class educators, provide state-of-the-art school facilities in every community, and make education affordable. We must also be cognizant that the ability to learn is not determined only by what happens when students walk into the classroom. Hunger, homelessness, poverty, exposure to violence, mental illness, and unsafe environmental conditions profoundly impact a student’s ability to learn. We need to take a comprehensive approach to ensure that students – at any level – have the health care, financial support, and out-of-school opportunities that empower them to achieve.
We must also acknowledge and confront the policies that define opportunity by zip code. We must be intentional in our efforts to dismantle the school-to-incarceration pipeline, to end disciplinary policies that disproportionately lead to the pushout of black and brown students, and to eliminate enormous financial barriers that too often make education inaccessible to students, including many who are trying to balance the cost of education with rent or child care. We need leaders in Congress who will not only fight for greater funding for education, but who understand the root causes of educational inequity and will work proactively to ensure that every student has an opportunity to thrive.