Issue Position: Restoring our Educational and Career Training Systems
Education remains the clearest pathway to opportunity and dignity. We must ensure that every child is provided with a pathway to maximize knowledge and every young adult to identify a pathway into a career. This must begin with investments in early childhood development and pre-K programs, continue through strong K-12 public schools, and provide multiple pathways into careers. These pathways should include not just university and community college programs but also apprenticeships and technical training options.
Since 2009, Virginia's education budget has experienced massive cuts totaling $800 million. As a result, teachers have not received hard-earned raises and many families have not been able to access pre-K education for their young children. These cuts have also made it more difficult for children in some of our most underserved communities to receive the education they deserve. Meanwhile, university graduates in Virginia start their careers owing more than $26,000 in student debt, on average.
As a former teacher, I have some sense of the challenges of ensuring student-centered education. And I have a strong track record of fighting for Virginia's education priorities. As Congressman, I helped secure more than $137 million to support public schools, as well as more than $157 million to support colleges and universities in Virginia's 5th District.
As Governor, I will prioritize investments in education in the state budget, including raising teacher pay, focusing particularly on the most under-resourced schools in our Commonwealth. To get our children off to the best start possible, I will make implementing universal pre-K a priority. To make post-secondary education more affordable and improve the career prospects for all young Virginians, I will make vocational training, apprenticeships or community college available debt-free for a minimum of two years. I will work with our universities to ensure that we do not continue to pile up the burden of tuition on the backs of students and their families. Our public education system is among the finest in the nation -- but we must ensure that every Virginia student has access to it.