Jesse believes that every child should have access to and receive a high-quality, well-rounded education. That means each child is afforded equitable opportunities regardless of socioeconomic status, zip code, or race.
Public Education is vital to our democracy and key to addressing our country’s social, economic and racial inequities. Ensuring a well-funded, equitable system of public education across the nation—from early education through graduate school—is necessary to overcoming our racist past and present. Educational justice is the product of empowered and amplified voices working with educators, local officials, parents, community members, and policymakers.
Jesse knows what we need to reinvest in and invigorate our public schools. We need more secure funding from the state to reverse the disparities from relying so heavily on property taxes. We need investments in our educators that reflect how much we count on them to build a strong future for our state and for our country. We need equity so that every child has access to opportunity.
Jesse isn’t new to this fight. She has spent years fighting to ensure that it is a reality for children in Massachusetts as the Executive Director of FairTest, a non-profit dedicated to ending the flaws and misuses of high-stakes standardized testing in public schools, and as a board member of Citizens for Public Schools, a grassroots advocacy group of parents, teachers, students and community members working to promote, protect and preserve public education. As an elected Town Meeting Member and Member of the Brookline Select Board, Jesse ensured that vulnerable communities received the resources they needed.
Jesse was proud to lead the progressive business community in fighting for the Fair Share Amendment to equitably raise significant new revenue to invest in education and transportation, including filing a brief with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that took apart the arguments of special interest groups that fought to kill the proposal.
Throughout her career, Jesse has made building an equitable public education system a priority. She will continue that fight in Washington to defend our public schools and provide the support our children, educators, and communities deserve.
Jesse’s vision to ensure that every child has equal access to a high quality public education includes:
- Investing in a Quality, Public School Education for all students. Jesse believes it is the federal government’s moral responsibility to deliver consistent and appropriate federal dollars to preserve and expand the provisions of laws that support schools with high concentrations of low-income students, English Learners, and students with disabilities, as well as other programs that continue to protect education for historically marginalized groups. Jesse will work on behalf of the Fourth Congressional District to ensure federal laws better reflect the input of community members, especially educators. The need for funding will only be further heightened in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. We must work to prevent education budget cuts due to COVID-19 that will have a deep and lasting impact on our most vulnerable students, especially students of color and students experiencing poverty. In Massachusetts, the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) is historic law that will increase the money the state invests in education and will begin to provide our neediest schools with equity. Due to revenue deficiencies as a result of COVID-19, this funding is now in jeopardy and districts are already handing out pink slips. The federal CARES Act had restrictive strings that did not allow communities to backfill the revenue loss and resulted in enormous tax breaks for top income corporations. We need to address these restrictions and ensure districts are able to keep the promises they made with the SOA and have the support and resources they need to serve their students and address learning loss caused by this public health crisis.
- Ensuring every student can succeed. We must address the segregation and discrimination that still exist in our schools by having a workforce reflective of our classrooms. For too long, communities of color have been institutionally pushed away from careers in education. We must put an end to institutionalized racism in America, starting in our public schools and the federal government must support district efforts to diversify staff. We must also provide the wrap-around services that the most vulnerable students need to succeed, including access to mental health services, programs for students experiencing food insecurity, support for English as a Second Language (ESL) students, and adequate resources for students with disabilities.
- Substantially increasing the educator workforce. As a member of Congress, Jesse will partner with States and local districts to support re-directing federal resources currently used for the militarization of our police force to reinvest in budget needs for supporting education and wrap-around services.
- Supporting our educators. We must ensure our educators are paid fair, living wages and that our schools and colleges are fully funded so that no educator has to pay out of their own pocket for basic classroom supplies or face layoffs and budget cuts at the expense of our students’ education. Quite often, a new teacher’s salary is not enough for them to pay their bills and their student loans and many teachers have to take on second jobs. This is especially true in our Gateway cities where salaries tend to be lower. These cities also see higher teacher turnover, which has a negative impact on student learning. Beyond that, fostering an environment and culture of educator professionalism starts by rejecting the failed policies of the Trump-DeVos Department of Education, including attempting to abolish the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, weakening protections against campus sexual assault, and enacting discriminatory policies against our LGBTQ students.
- Expanding Access to Early Childhood Education. Jesse believes we must ensure universal pre-Kindergarten, and full-day Kindergarten, is available and accessible to all families, regardless of their income, their zip code or the child’s abilities. Universal pre-K builds the foundation for future success in the classroom and beyond.
- Providing for the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of our students. We must prioritize the wellbeing of our students, educators and staff when we return to a “new normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic. Jesse believes that every school should have a full-time nurse and mental health professional on staff, as well as a sufficient number of paraprofessionals to aid in the classroom so that teachers and students can succeed emotionally as well as academically. Additional factors — poverty, housing or food insecurity, trauma, violence, polluted air, land, or water, and discrimination, among others — also impact the social and emotional wellbeing of our students, and must be addressed in order to ensure student success. The federal government has a crucial role to play in providing resources to enable all public school districts in the nation to educate all of their students.
- Eliminating High-Stakes Testing. Jesse feels passionately about moving our federal education system away from the harmful emphasis on high stakes standardized testing like the MCAS system in Massachusetts. This system forces educators to teach only to the test, leading to a narrowing of the curriculum and elimination of many electives that help ensure a well rounded education, such as art, music, debate, robotics and more. The cost of the MCAS is $32 million per year in Massachusetts and, as we anticipate budget shortfalls due to COVID-19, the federal government can encourage states to pause testing and reallocate those funds to address budget concerns. In addition, we need to address the over-reliance on high-stakes testing in the college admittance process including the ACT and SAT as we know it deepens inequities and puts low-income students at a disadvantage.
- Making Higher Education Affordable and Accessible for All. Jesse knows the value of higher education, and she knows that its cost is out of reach for far too many students. She supports the idea of a wealth tax to fund free tuition at two- and four-year public colleges, community colleges, and technical schools, ensuring that those who want to go on to college or trade certificate programs can do so. Jesse also supports dramatically reducing student debt, and will work in Congress to make that happen through measures such as loan forgiveness and caps on interest rates. She will also see that financial aid applications, including the FAFSA system, are made more accessible to all students and families.
- Providing Immediate Debt Relief to Students. We must give students debt relief immediately. For those who are currently strapped with debt, Jesse will work in Congress to provide relief with all the possible tools available, including loan forgiveness, providing critical oversight on interest rates, and streamlining the loan refinancing process. It is essential to take these steps to provide debt relief immediately, especially during and after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. She will also fight Betsy DeVos’ efforts to block students from getting the debt relief they deserve and fight the growth of predatory, for-profit colleges that take advantage of vulnerable students and leave them drowning in debt. Jesse will work to ensure that financial aid applications, including the FAFSA system, are made more accessible to all students and families.
- Fighting privatization. Our public schools are not for sale. We need to oppose the expansion of charter schools at the federal level to ensure resources are not being allocated to publicly-funded, privately-run schools that lack local oversight. Many charters do not serve a student body reflective of their location, and by diverting funding from traditional public schools they serve to increase the likelihood that those public school students are left behind.
- Expanding Vocational Opportunities. Jesse supports expanding and supporting vocational opportunities for students who choose to pursue a trade. Vocational schools are an incredible asset to make sure students interested in pursuing a trade build the skills and experience to develop meaningful careers.
- Passing common sense gun safety reforms so that every classroom is safe from gun violence. We must take on the NRA and end gun violence to make sure no teacher or student is worrying about the threat of another school shooting or taking more time out of critical learning hours for active shooter drills. Jesse will work tirelessly on behalf of the students, parents and communities of the Fourth District and all of Massachusetts to protect our children from the threat of gun violence. You can read Jesse’s full plan here.