As the daughter of a retired Detroit public school teacher, I am a fierce advocate for Michigan’s public education system. I am very troubled by the directives coming out of Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education. From pre-K to higher education, I will always advocate for Michigan’s educators, students, and families.
At the K-12 level, the federal government’s role is to provide support to state education agencies and local school districts to ensure that students of all abilities and needs have access to an educational environment that allows them to succeed. The federal government has a legal obligation to ensure equal access to education through Title 1 and other essential programs like IDEA. Unfortunately, the level of support provided is frequently far below the level needed to ensure equality, and I have worked hard to fulfill Congress’ promise to fully fund these programs and help close the achievement gap.
Importantly, we must address the Michigan teacher shortage by investing in public education at pre-K through grade 12. Public education dollars must be fully allocated, and our educators should receive the respect and dignity they deserve.
As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I have supported proposals to improve the value of a post-secondary education, like the College Affordability Act, to make community college tuition-free through state based cost-sharing programs, expand Pell grants, and improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
For students who choose to attend 4-year universities, the cost of higher education is out of control. Over 45 million Americans owe a combined $1.6 trillion in student debt. That is more than two and a half times what they owed just a decade ago. The average student in Michigan graduates with over $31,000 in student loan debt. This burden of debt is unacceptable, and the hefty price tag of higher education makes college seem out of reach for too many Michiganders. We must also address predatory lending and some for-profit colleges who subject student borrowers to extreme costs without a return on a certified degree. Many of these students have been defrauded and they deserve relief. That is why I have championed legislation to protect student borrowers and allow them to more easily repay their loans.
I have a background in workforce development and have developed STEM education programs for middle school and high school students in digital manufacturing and software engineering. I am a strong proponent of apprenticeship and vocational education. We need to support Michigan schools to advance and increase our technical workforce and get back to the hands-on learning that our schools excelled in for many years. I have also upheld the many successful apprenticeship programs provided by our labor unions that link community colleges with employers and support employers who are directly looking to offer apprenticeship programs.
In Congress, I will fight for every Michigan student — whether they are 3 or 73. Education holds the key to opportunity, and we must make sure every individual has an equal access to opportunity by pursuing an educational track that will allow them to achieve the American Dream.