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Equitable and free education for all.

Education isn’t just about learning. It’s where we learn how to be people. Something so fundamental must not only be free, but accessible for all.

My family, like many other working-class families, wanted their children to have better lives than they did. But I was only able to attend college by taking out student loans. I still have graduate school debt today. When education comes with a price tag, those with the least amount of resources will have the toughest time affording it. 

In this day and age, it’s often not enough to simply have a high school diploma or GED. Most jobs that pay a living wage require at least a bachelor’s degree. But with tuition so high, and the prospect of taking on student debt all the more daunting, many do not have the ability to attend college. 

In Albany, I will fight so others can have what I did not: Equitable and free education.

New Deal for CUNY

I believe that education is a fundamental right, which is why I support universal free public education, including higher ed. We must return the City University of New York system to its roots: free tuition. 

In Albany I will strongly advocate for a New Deal for CUNY, which will bring in $1.47 billion in funding for CUNY schools. With low-income families all over New York stuck with student debt, it is time our legislature fights for the working class and low-income residents by making higher education free for all New Yorkers. By passing the New Deal for CUNY, we can cancel student debt for all current and former CUNY students

Fully Funding and Democratizing Public Schools

For decades, our public school system has been criminally underfunded. In a landmark 1995 ruling, the Court of Appeals found that it was unconstitutional for New York not to provide all students “the opportunity for a sound basic education.” And yet, virtually nothing has changed. 

We cannot continue to rely on property taxes to fund our public schools. This funding formula puts the burden disproportionately on the working class and communities of color. I will fight for legislation that not only repeals the funding formula, but replaces it with a formula based on progressive taxation

I support ending mayoral control of public schools. Local parents and school communities are uniquely dedicated to educational institutions in their neighborhoods, and have special insight into the educational needs of their students. They should be able to have meaningful influence on their schools and education policies.

I will propose legislation that bans schools from retaliating against students for opting out of standardized testing. We must have a robust outreach program for parents to be a part of this process. Parents, regardless of language, have a right to shape what policies their schools deploy. But when students are threatened with punishment for opting out of standardized testing, parents are going to be the last line of defense. 

No New Charter Schools 

I support legislation that not only halts creation of new charter schools, but begins the process of transitioning all existing charters into public schools. While New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the country, it is also among the most segregated. If we truly believe that all students deserve a proper education, then we cannot support a school system that separates the rich from the poor, and white people from people of color. 

Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

We must take a restorative justice approach to school conflict. When we take a punishment-centered approach, we’re merely teaching students how to avoid punishment, not do the right thing. 

Many students that receive excessive punishment have learning disabilities. When students with learning disabilities don’t understand why they’re being punished, they withdraw because they’re not being understood. We must give all students the compassionate education they deserve, regardless of whatever needs they have. 

Furthermore, punishment is the beginning of the school to prison pipeline. We must fight to end the shameful legacy of segregation, which continues even in schools that serve predominantly black and brown students. Black and brown students are more likely to get harsher punishments for the same actions than white students. I will fight for legislation that champions the initiatives put forth by local organizations such as the Urban Youth Collective, the NYC Alliance for School Integration & Desegregation, and the Alliance for Quality Education, bringing consensus around how best to change this kind of culture in schools.