It’s time for a leader who believes in the tremendous importance of our nation’s schools and recognizes the responsibility that our schools have to empower young people inside and outside of the classroom. Accomplishing this requires that we support and enact policies that are informed by a clear and complete understanding of the opportunities and challenges our students and teachers face each day. It also requires that we understand how policy impacts people and not just let our programs operate based on theories alone.
I know that New Mexico’s future is at a tipping point as we work to fix our state’s failing education system. As we embrace the challenge of preparing young people for the ever-evolving economy and workplace of the future, I will support investments in high-quality STEAM classes, arts education, and career and technical student organizations, while also working to expand link-learning models and career pathways to ensure that we create opportunities for all students.
My life is what it is today because when I was five years old, I sat on my grandfather’s lap and he said Pablito, “never forget that education is the one thing that no one could ever take away from you, so work hard, dream big, but never forget your roots.” I believe that my grandfather words ring more accurate today than ever before.
What can we do about it?
- Meet the Physiological and Safety needs of children and parents. To form the precursor for long-term educational success, we need a holistic approach to education. Low-income students, students of color, English language learners, and students with disabilities all face different, yet similar, challenges for their education. We need a government that responds to their needs; increase funding for SNAP, fully fund the WIC program and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credits. I will work tirelessly to find a way to provide full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that every student has the resources they need to succeed at the highest levels.
- Address the Unequal Access to High-Quality Education. The unequal access to high-quality educational opportunities in this country is one of the great civil rights issues of our time and we need to address these inequalities head on. We can predict where a child will be in 15 or 30 years based purely on what zip code they were born in and this type of disparity has no place in America. We must focus on equity within our educational systems and hold schools accountable while simultaneously providing the outside support and career development to bring the overall learning and achievement up across the board.
- Create Universal Early Education Programs. Education is society’s great equalizer, and the only way to create upward mobility for everyone is by making sure that we recognize that the promise of a high-quality education begins in a child’s earliest years. As a member of Congress, I will fight to ensure that we invest in early childhood programs to make certain that every child in America has access to high-quality educational experiences that set them on the path to an education that unleashes their potential and prepares them for the responsibilities of citizenship in our democratic society.
- Champion our Teachers and Provide Better Educational Resources. New Mexico is ranked 49th nationally for education, and there are still New Mexicans leaving the 3rd grade without necessary literacy skills. K-12 education is nationally underfunded, students slip through the cracks, and teachers have to manage bigger classes with a smaller paycheck. Teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated, and we need to support them with professional development. Our classrooms need advanced technologies, and our teachers need long-term career ladders that offer mobility upward without leaving the class.
- Increase Teacher Pay and Career Opportunities. No other school-based factor has a greater impact on student learning than the quality of one’s teachers. I will respect teachers as the hardworking professionals they are and will work to support systems of measurement and accountability that foster professional growth and development for teachers to provide them the skills they need to change lives and edify the next generation of world changers.
- Eliminate High-Stakes Testing. It’s time for us to allow our teachers to focus on teaching instead of high-stakes standardized tests that are all too often used as a basis for refusing to sufficiently fund or to close schools. I will push back on efforts to use student test scores as the majority component of teacher and principal evaluations, instead of recognizing the multidimensional nature of teaching and school leadership.
- Subsidize college education, expand access to career training and apprenticeship programs. Universities offer Americans excellent opportunities to grow and pursue their happiness. We need to ensure that the cost of a college education is not a determining factor in where or how a student attends college. While college attendance is crucial, we as a nation should be doing everything possible to support students who want to jump right into the jobs market. Vocational careers are a viable option, and New Mexico is going to need more solar technicians once I am in the office.