‘We need a candidate who is experienced in education to make the right decisions’

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Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.

On October 21st, Senator Elizabeth Warren released her new plan for reformation of K-12 public education. The 2020 election has produced the most diverse range of candidates that America’s stage has ever seen, yet none have produced a plan that holds a candle to Senator Warren’s plan. 

I attended a low-income public high school. We were a freshman class just shy of 800 students which was reduced nearly in half by senior year. I witnessed blackboards with cracks directly through the center and textbooks dating back nearly 15 years. But through all the difficulties my school faced, it was my teachers who gave everything to strengthen the learning and success of us, their students. 

Flash forward a few years and I began working in higher education. My students came from all backgrounds – learners looking to finish their degrees. The question I found myself constantly pondering was this: why were there so many gaps in my students’ educational timelines? The longer I worked, the more I saw that the  answer almost always came down to finances. A surgery, a prescription, an unexpected life event. One way or another, my students were forced to pick between their health, their family, or their home – and often, their education suffered.

Working in higher education administration, I see the challenges our students are facing every day. Funneling tax dollars out of public schools and into charter schools is a recipe for disaster. Decisions made by the Trump administration have scaled back the rights of marginalized groups of students across the board. To call the solutions being offered by current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos troubling would be an understatement. 

Education is facing an existential crisis in New Hampshire and across America. Our schools are overcrowded and lack proper funding to address concerns over resources, academics, co-curricular activities and even the ability to offer affordable, healthy meals to students. But America’s educational problems don’t end with the 12th grade. Earning a bachelor’s degree has become a debt sentence for student’s looking to develop meaningful careers. Today, our nation’s student loan debt totals over $1.5 trillion, with crippling effects on not only the borrowers but our nation’s entire economic structure. We are facing a shortage of teachers as one generation prepares to retire and the next becomes ready to begin a career. It is no secret that many interested in pursuing a profession in education have shied away over rising tuition costs and stagnant salaries. 

As a former public school teacher, Elizabeth Warren understands the struggles our students and educators face and what is needed to redefine education for our next generation. Her hands-on experience and judgment are what we need to redefine how education could look for the next generation of American students. 

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Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and me.

Elizabeth’s plan encompasses solutions that we drastically need if we ever hope to bring positive change to our public schools.  One of her most critical pledges for students in New Hampshire is her promise to fully fund IDEA, a federal fund to cover the additional costs of education for students with disabilities. IDEA is vital to protecting the rights of students with disabilities in public schools and, in fact, is the very same law that DeVos admitted to having confused when questioned by New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan in 2016 at DeVos’s nomination hearing. Elizabeth’s vow to make good on the original 40 percent federal funding promise won’t just provide an additional $20 billion a year to IDEA grants, but will also free up the funds New Hampshire schools are currently using to cover those costs. 

Another critical proposal in Elizabeth’s plan sets a goal to help 25,000 public schools transition to the community school framework by 2030. Community schools connect students and families with community partners to provide opportunities, support, and services inside and outside of the school. Studies show that every dollar invested in community schools generates up to $15 in economic return to the community. These are the types of investments that aren’t just critical for our students, but for communities. 

We need a candidate who is experienced in education to make the right decisions and fill their cabinet with a trustworthy staff for the sake of our children’s future. Warren is that person. I had the pleasure to meet her briefly in Manchester, New Hampshire, and thanked her for fighting for higher ed. Her response? “We’re going to do this.”

Alec Biron is a New Hampshire native, higher education professional and graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in writing.

About this Author

Alec Biron

Alec Biron is a New Hampshire native and professional content writer with his M.A. in English and Creative Writing. Alec has a background in covering event pieces, travel and culture stories, and personal essays as a freelance writer.