The United States is failing to provide quality education and skills training accessible to all. Inequities persist in school funding, teacher quality, class sizes, and resources. Cost barriers also prevent many from accessing higher education and career development opportunities after high school.
These gaps disproportionately impact marginalized communities, exacerbating cyclical poverty. And they undermine America’s global competitiveness as our skills and knowledge economy grows. We are letting down entire generations of youth.
Outdated curricula, high-stakes testing, discriminatory disciplinary policies, and lack of mental health/special needs support exacerbate these systemic problems. Our education system needs an overhaul to prepare students for life, not just standardized tests.
We must also do more to support and empower our young people who wish to pursue college alternatives. More than ever, we are seeing that college is not the only path to a successful career. I will partner with the business community to create career opportunities for our young people through new industry apprenticeships, technical careers, modern certifications programs, and on the job training – with an eye toward those that meet the needs of America’s labor force.
How We Will Solve the Problem Together
As your Senator, I will work to make high-quality K-12 education, higher learning, and skills training a right for all Americans.
I will fight to equalize school funding between districts to provide equal opportunity. And I will support reforms to modernize curricula, teaching approaches, and school supports to ignite children’s lifelong love of learning.
To promote college affordability and career readiness, I will expand Pell Grants, subsidized federal loans, vocational training, apprenticeships, and STEM programs. Financial barriers to education and skills end now.
We can also develop new programs, like a national “year of service” for high school graduates to gain leadership skills while serving communities. This voluntary one year term would allow young people to gain leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills through military, Americorps or Peace Corps-style programs helping communities in need in Maryland and nationwide. It will prepare them for life while serving fellow citizens.
We must destigmatize and redesign vocational careers which offer stable, well-paying jobs. I will increase funding for skills apprenticeships and certifications in manufacturing, construction, healthcare services, IT and other fields. On-the-job training should be valued as highly as academic degrees.
For example, there’s a 12 month Drone pilot certificate program at Anne Arundel Community College. The drone industry is expected to have a 50% growth rate in the next few years and some jobs pay over 100K. There are other newer high paying professional certificate programs like coding bootcamps and software development where Maryland can pave the way forward to build up a strong, highly skilled workforce for emerging technologies.
How We Will Advance the Issue in Washington, DC and Maryland
In Congress I will sponsor bills to increase federal education funding, establish national standards for equitable school financing, and make 2 years of college tuition-free nationwide at public local and state universities.
I will also champion legislation to provide tuition-free vocational training and create college credit recommendations for on-the-job apprenticeships. All paths to knowledge deserve support.
In Maryland, I will ensure reinvested military spending savings help modernize school infrastructure. And I will work to connect every high school student with apprenticeship and skills training opportunities.
The Benefits for Maryland and America
With education and training as rights, Americans can achieve their full potential regardless of background. This will strengthen communities, grow the economy through skilled labor, and uphold the promise of equal opportunity for all.
We will foster a society that values all types of knowledge, skills and abilities – academic and vocational. And we will empower each child and young adult to pursue the educational path that fits their unique talents and interests. Unlocking this human potential will take America’s success to new heights.