Public education is the pathway to opportunity in this country, and one of our greatest equalizers. But lack of support and investment has undermined this foundation of the American dream. In the Senate, Steve Bullock will work to strengthen public education by making it fair and accessible for every student, and ensuring that all adults can add to their professional training without being burdened by debt or dropping out of the workforce.
Basic investments in K-12 education, like funding for special education and rural schools, are woefully inadequate. Wraparound services that keep kids healthy and ready to learn, like afterschool and summer learning, school-based mental health and breakfast programs, need additional support too. Renewing our commitment to these investments will help us regain America’s competitive education advantage. That also means fighting attempts to yank resources away from public schools through vouchers, for-profit charter schools, and privatization. Voluntary, publicly-funded preschool should be available to every family who wants it.
Rural, low-performing, and underserved schools need help in attracting, supporting, and retaining effective teachers, principals, support professionals, and specialized staff. We need to improve and expand training for the folks like principals and superintendents who lead our schools. To free our educators and preserve a broad curriculum, we should cut down on the over-testing that eats into instruction time and crowds out the subjects that make for a well-rounded, quality education.
Pell Grants open the door to higher education, and we should increase eligibility to serve more families. Students should have access to free tuition for community college, and once all students are in the workforce, they shouldn’t have to pay income taxes on student loan repayment benefits from their employers. By getting student loans out from under the management of for-profit corporations, we can lower interest rates and make it easier to refinance when interest rates go down. Public service student loan repayment is essential for helping folks afford to serve their communities, but the system isn’t working the way it promised to–we need to improve and expand it so young people can afford to go to college and give back to their communities. Tribal colleges play a vital role for Native American students throughout our state, and we should boost our investments in these bedrock institutions.
By providing financial support to students who obtain employer-recognized certificates and offering tax credits to employers who bring on apprentices or offer other work-based learning, we can secure the jobs that sustain families without spending years in school.
During Steve’s time as Governor, Montana has made record investments in our public education system. Steve fought for Montana’s first-ever investment in publicly-funded preschool. He froze in-state tuition for Montana colleges six out of eight years, making our state one of the most affordable in the nation. Under his tenure, enrollment in high school-college dual enrollment courses doubled, saving families millions of dollars in tuition. He created an apprenticeship tax credit that doubled for businesses that hired veterans, and created the country’s first tribal college apprenticeship program. And Steve oversaw an expansion of broadband internet to public schools, providing the infrastructure necessary for a 21st century education.