QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION AS A RIGHT
Education is a right.
We believe that it is time to transform our educational system all the way from early child care through college and beyond. The time for Quality Public Education as a RIGHT is LONG OVERDUE.
TUITION-FREE PUBLIC COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY
OUR campaign is calling for Tuition-Free Public College & Education regardless of how much one's family makes. We believe Universal Public Higher Education through College should be a RIGHT, just as we believe Universal Healthcare should be a RIGHT.
Nowadays, a college degree is required for most jobs in the private sector. In addition, a college education is key to success and survival in the competitive national and global economy because as many other nations (who do provide tuition free public college) know: Knowledge is Power.
How would we pay for it? A Wall Street Speculation Tax. Put a financial transaction tax per total trade dollar amount:
0.5% on Stocks,
0.1% on Bonds,
0.005% on Derivatives, and
0.001% on all other Financial Securities traded.
For example, in the LAST SEVEN business days of December, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) had $213,954,582,805 worth of Stock Trades. If there were a financial transaction tax of 0.5% on those stocks, that would equate to $1,069,772,914 worth of revenue generated to go towards education. That could cover 66,092 undergraduate students going to Cal State University of Los Angeles (CSULA), and only 27,000 are enrolled per year! That could also cover 47,791 undergraduate students going to UCLA for a year. AND that's only SEVEN DAYS worth of trading from ONE stock exchange.
Wall Street investment firms, hedge funds, etc. are MORE than capable of picking up this small progressive tax, it just depends on who's going to push for it. We know the bought Democrats and Republicans won't because Wall Street are their biggest campaign supporters. Wall Street & the Big Banks received $16 trillion in federal assistance from the Fed with close to zero percent interest to bailout the greed and recklessness of Wall Street that contributed to the Great Recession where 9 million people lost their jobs, 4 million homes were foreclosed, 2.5 million businesses were shut down, and millions of hardworking Americans saw their retirement disappear. Wall Street & the Big Banks have recovered, but the American people HAVEN'T. It's time for them to pay their fair share!
It should be noted that this will pay for itself, every taxpayer dollar that goes into education generates $7 in return in revenue and public benefits, this is what gave way to the GI Bill after WW2. In addition, the University of California (UC) Schools used to be free at least for California Residents before 1970.
CANCELLATION OF STUDENT DEBT
As of 2016, there is currently $1.3 trillion of student debt outstanding with about 44 million Americans paying off their student loans. Students leave around with an average of $35,000 in student debt with a 5-7% interest rate when they graduate, and 11% of students are likely to default on their payments.
For that 4.8 million who are likely to default, they are burdened with the socioeconomic effects of insecurity, damaged credit scores, wage garnishments, and can lose public employment or even a driver's license.
In Los Angeles, what we are seeing in areas with higher median income households are students with higher average loan balances especially with more expensive private colleges/universities but lower rates of delinquency meaning that those with money are able to take care of the costs. However, in areas with lower median income households, students have lower loan balances attending more public colleges/universities, but are more likely to default on loan payments. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, before the Great Recession, total outstanding student debt ranked well below mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and home equity lines of credit as sources of household debt. Now it trails only mortgage debt... Student loans are the new mortgages.
Student debt is polarizing our students as it becomes clear that a degree is now a requirement into the job market that doesn't exist. 50 years ago, one could not get hired a job without a high school degree; today, many employers won't even consider hiring someone without a college degree. We believe it's time we bailout our students and forgive their student debt. We call on the Federal Reserve to buy back the $1.3 trillion outstanding in student loans and declare it uncollectable - null and void (write-off the debt). The Fed was able to prop up more than $16 trillion in loans with close to zero percent interest to bailout the greed and recklessness of Wall Street that contributed to the Great Recession where 8.8 million people lost their jobs, 6 million homes were lost, and millions of hardworking Americans saw their retirement savings disappear ($3.4 trillion).
Bailing out our hardworking students and their parents will increase their cash flow, increase spending, increase the possibilities of idea creation and entrepreneurship, and give more quality time in finding that career path that they studied for so that they employ their full potential. We will push for the student loan bailout through the Fed because like Bernie Sanders said, "The Federal Reserve must be reformed to serve the needs of working families, not just CEOs on Wall Street."
IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION AND PROTECT IT FROM PRIVATIZATION
We will work to ensure that no public schools are privatized or taken over by corporate charters that end up running schools like a business. We oppose charter schools that don't agree to their districts' collective bargaining agreements with classified workers and teachers. Charters shouldn't be used to bust unions.
We also share concerns about some charter schools that have served as vehicles for the enrichment of real estate speculators. From speaking with teachers, a lot of these charter systems make it seem that the opportunity is equal for everyone, but some still screen students or give admission to those who have a special interest into the school's particular educational focus or sometimes make students write 5 page essays without grammatical errors, etc. One of the reasons is because the schools need to have "numbers" (standardized test scores at a certain level). Our strategy is to improve all public schools by providing them with the resources they need, rather than hiring teachers and classified workers with lower pay and benefits. We will also oppose any voucher system that would re-direct public education funding to private schools, including through tax credits. We believe that public schools should be a place for ALL students to have a quality education and should not be burdened by any financial desires from those "managing" the schools just to make profit.
Educators should have the freedom to be more innovative in their classes without restrictions by mandates, and teachers should have resources and technology incorporated as it is crucial in the learning environment, something that is currently being underutilized and underfunded. Right now, through this pandemic, we are seeing the impact that such a lack is having on the education of our children.
We also believe that educators should not be graded or measured based on standardized tests by students. We believe that there should be adequate measures that will empower educators, such as a well-rounded curriculum that not only let's students learn the subject matters but also helps them become better members of their community. The No Child Left Behind Act focuses heavily on math and literacy which takes away other opportunities for growth such as working in teams and creative/critical thinking which is crucial after graduating from school. Also, many schools receive funding based on how well the schools perform in terms of standardized testing and that has a major drawback on educators and students especially with low-income families and communities of color who lack fewer resources to begin with.
We also believe that teachers should have additional resources when it comes to full inclusion teaching where teachers teach both special education and general education. This can put lots of pressure on the teachers as the teachers sometimes do not specialize in special education. We will work to ensure critical consciousness among educators, making sure that teachers who are going into urban schools, have a critical education or theoretical background, and have an understanding of the systemic issues students are facing, especially students of color. You cannot have a top down approach from people who have never set foot in the community that students come from. There needs to be community involvement, even from the students, when it comes to decision-and-policy-making in education.
We will work to make educational institutions more welcoming especially to students' parents whose first language is not English so that there is no intimidation and that there is a clear understanding between parents and educators.
END SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE
We will work to end the school to prison pipeline, where schools have zero tolerance policies which we will work to remove. According to the ACLU, "Zero-tolerance” policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while cops in schools lead to students being criminalized for behavior that should be handled inside the school. Students of color and even undocumented students are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of disciplines. This is why it's critical that the teachers and administrators come from a critical background because those who don't have their idea of what "defiance" is which is deemed as "unacceptable" behavior in their eyes. Zero tolerance policies do not consider what is going on in the communities these students are coming from.
TAKING CARE OF OUR EDUCATORS
We will work hard to ensure that our teachers get paid more. Currently, educators with a college degree are making around $31,000 starting pay. Close to 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession with in the first 5 years due to low pay, while many teachers work multiple jobs because they cannot afford to qualify for mortgage loans, rent an apartment, or even have the money to pay off their student loans. No one should have to go to school or work and worry about whether their rent will be paid or there will be food on the table. Teachers give a lot of what they’re asked for which can be stressful and exhausting which might force them out of the profession to more lucrative positions if they are not being valued. We will also work to give teachers more self-care days so that they have time to take care of themselves.
UNIVERSAL PRE-K & HEADSTART
We will work to ensure Universal Pre-K high quality programs for 4 year-olds regardless of their parents' or families income, race, etc. Research has shown that the earlier a child starts learning, the better he or she does in his or her future. Currently, our country is not doing enough to give ALL kids that chance to learn and succeed in their early ages. Three in ten 4-year-olds are currently enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Just like kindergarten is available to 5 and 6 year-old children, we believe that pre-k should be available as well to ALL children 4 years of age. According to the National Association for the Education of Young children, the term universal pre-K means that these programs are available for any child in any state, regardless of the child’s abilities and family income. Universal pre-K would also allow thousands of mothers to enter into the workforce and help families spend less on education and add additional income for a family. Brain development during the years leading up to kindergarten lays out the foundation for child's future as well as it promotes creative learning, age appropriate educational exercises, the development of language, and early literacy, cognitive, and social skills. This goes beyond the child's years; it lasts a lifetime.
We will also work to protect Head Start programs that prepare young children from low-income families, especially families of color. Head Start provides children with early childhood development such as developing reading and math skills from birth to age 5 and they also provide nutritional services. This takes off a heavy financial burden from low-income families and families of color as they can focus on being able to make an income and also not worry that their child is not getting the quality care they need. From the Office of Head Start, Head Start has served over 30 million children and their families in urban and rural areas in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories.