On the Issues: Education

I am a product of Nevada public schools and served Nevada’s colleges and universities as a member of the Board of Regents. I’ve heard from students as a member of the Board of Regents on a number of issues — from drainage system issues at colleges and universities to concerns about healthcare access for students.

A robust, well-funded, and innovative education system is the fabric of a healthy economy and thriving community. I’m dedicated to addressing the most pressing education challenges facing the fourth district.

Rural Education

Just after I launched my campaign, I sat down with the Community Youth Advisory Council in Tonopah to talk about the challenges they face every single day. They talked endlessly about what their own creative projects to address these challenges in their schools — from hosting special events that address drunk driving to establishing programs to minimize the gap in mental health services for students.

Students in the fourth district are bright, innovative, and full of ideas. They deserve the necessary resources to seize every opportunity that an education offers.

One in six Nevada schools are in rural areas, and rural school districts face unique challenges. The Rural School and Community Trust lists Nevada as one of the top 10 national “priority” states with the greatest needs for rural schools, and more than 47 percent of students in rural Nevada school districts qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Transporting students from far-reaching rural areas can be cumbersome for schools facing funding shortages.

We have to make sure that rural schools have the funding and resources necessary so that students can flourish. When I’m in Congress, I pledge to:

  • Make sure that rural schools have the funds that they need to provide up up-to-date learning materials and essential classroom supplies
  • Pay special attention to the unique challenges faced by rural school districts — including transportation and lunch programs
  • Address college acceptance rates in rural areas and build more robust job training programs in high schools

Supporting Our Teachers

Teachers are responsible for shaping the minds of the future generation of leaders — a job that no one takes lightly. They should have the resources to do their job and to do it well.

When our teachers are taken care of — paid a competitive salary and given the supplies they need to provide a nourishing classroom environment — our students thrive.

Providing a quality education to our country’s future, the change-makers, and bright minds who sit and learn in our classrooms today is in the hands of hundreds of thousands of dedicated teachers across the country. Every teacher, including the ones who serve and care for the students in Nevada’s fourth district, deserve all the support we can give them. And the truth is we haven’t been giving them enough to do their jobs.

Washington has turned their back on our nation’s students by to ignoring the needs of teachers for too long. When I’m in Congress, I pledge to:

  • Fight for competitive teacher salaries
  • Secure more funding for our public education system

Resources for Our Kids

I remember struggling to find affordable childcare for my two kids while working and raising them by myself. It was already hard enough to put food on the table for two growing kids without struggling to find a place for them to go so that I could work my 9 to 5 job. There are significant financial barriers for parents — especially single parents — who need a safe place to send their kids during the work day. Raising kids is a job in and of itself, not to mention the added stress of working any job to support your family.

The bottom line is childcare costs twice as much as college tuition in Nevada. That is completely unacceptable — plain and simple.

Availability of early childhood education programs is not only a financial concern for parents. Only about 3 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded pre-k programs — despite research that lifetime educational attainment improves when students receive early education. Our students need every possible tool to succeed. That means we have to invest in them — and invest early.

Nevada has to make sure that our students not only get a head start on their education, but they are supported throughout their time in our public schools. As the mother of a child with a disability, I have seen time and again that our schools are unable or unwilling to accommodate the needs of students with special needs.

Our schools have to be welcoming to all students, no matter their unique needs — no if, ands, or buts about it.

Our elected leaders should provide every resource to parents so that they and their kids can start doing better. When I’m in Congress, I pledge to:

  • Fight for universal pre-kindergarten
  • Make sure that childcare services are affordable
  • Protect students with disabilities and make sure that their needs are met

College Affordability

I’m a proud alumna of the University of Nevada — Las Vegas and am thankful for the opportunities that our higher education system gave me to pursue my goals.

I relied on pell grants to get an education, and I still wound up with thousands of dollars in student debt. The skyrocketing cost of tuition and crushing student debt are issues I’m all too familiar with. These issues are very real to me now as I pursue my PhD in Biomedical Informatics.

I have been able to give back to my alma mater and the rest of Nevada’s colleges and universities as a member of the Board of Regents. We worked on issues ranging from improving campus facilities and curriculum to lowering the cost of higher education.

Skyrocketing levels of student debt and tuition costs are clear and present challenges to those who have or are pursuing a college degree, but they are only one piece of a much larger problem. While we absolutely must address the out-of-control cost of pursuing college degree in Nevada, we must also set our sights on other financial issues facing students.

The cost of living on college campuses is out of control and makes day-to-day life even more expensive for students. There are plenty of students who are skipping meals to make ends meet and pay for their education. We have to do better for our students.

We need to think critically about how to address the cost of higher education in Nevada so that our students can thrive. When I’m in Congress, I pledge to:

  • Lower student loan interest rates
  • Make college tuition more affordable
  • Find creative solutions to lower the cost of living for students across Nevada

Expanding Jobs Training

Our economy is very different than it was ten years ago, and some Nevadans are still struggling to find jobs after the 2008 financial crisis and recession. It’s time that our education system do something about it.

Only about half of those 20 to 24 with a high school diploma are employed. While 9 out of 10 people with a bachelor’s degree are working, only about 23% of Nevadans have a college degree according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a stark, unsustainable gap between those with a college degree and those without that we must address. Nevadans should be able to find a good paying job and put food on the table if they work hard — bottom line.

That’s why we have to expand job training programs in our high schools and community colleges — so that we can address our economy’s evolving needs and make sure Nevadans have access to good-paying jobs.

As a Regent, I convened the first meeting between the Board of Regents and the State Board of Education in over a decade. We discussed career and technical training and how we can expand those programs into our high schools and community colleges.

We need to make sure these programs pay special attention to groups especially in need of help — such as veterans returning from active duty. Servicemembers often need assistance re-adjusting to civilian life when they return home, and helping them learn to use their skills as part of the workforce here in Nevada is an important part of reintegrating veterans into our communities.

We need an economy that works for all Nevadans, and that starts with our education system. When I’m in Congress, I pledge to:

  • Bring more federal grants for career and technical training programs to Nevada
  • Expand career and technical training programs to high schools and community colleges
  • Develop programs to help veterans integrate into the workforce.

In Congress, I’ll work to make sure that we have an education system that gives all Nevadans the tools that they need to succeed. Let’s get to work.