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Strengthening education and making college more affordable

I’m a strong proponent of public education. My husband and I attended public schools, and so did our two children. Our kids started school a few years after the passage of Measure 5, and as a parent volunteer I saw the devastating consequences of the resulting budget cuts. This experience strengthened my commitment to great public schools for all children, public schools where students thrive and educators have the resources and support they need.

As a parent volunteer, I advocated for school funding at the Capitol in Salem, and my passion for public education ultimately led me to serve as a State Representative, a State Senator, and now a Member of Congress. In Congress, I have the honor of serving on the Education and Workforce Committee, where I am the top Democrat leading the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee.

During my time as the Chair of the Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, I led hearings on and passed legislation through the House to address pay equity, federal child nutrition programs, child abuse prevention and treatment, LGBTQI+ equality, runaway and homeless youth, and employment discrimination. In 2022, we had a significant victory when President Biden signed the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into law.

One of my most significant accomplishments in Congress was the replacement of No Child Left Behind. I served in a lead role in the work and helped write the final version of The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I also created the bipartisan Congressional STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Caucus to advocate for the integration of art and design, broadly defined, into STEM education to prepare all students to be creative, critical thinkers who will have the skills they need to solve the problems of today and tomorrow.

At the beginning of the 118th Congress, Republican leaders released their so-called “Parents Bill of Rights,” which would do nothing to meaningfully support parental engagement but instead would further division between educators and parents. As someone who spent years as an active public school parent and volunteer, I was not just disappointed; I was appalled. I got to work right away to counter their proposal with my Students and Parents Bill of Rights. This resolution is an aspirational vision for public education that is inclusive of all students and parents. I relied heavily on the experience and perspective of educators when drafting this bill, and I am incredibly grateful for their input.

With public education under constant attack by the extremist Republican majority in the House, we must stand up against hate and discrimination. I have consistently spoken out against attacks on the First Amendment, including proposals that would allow book banning and censorship. Importantly, we must stand up for the LGBTQI+ community, especially youth who deserve to feel safe and be safe in school.

There is more to do to provide all students with access to an excellent, well-rounded education. I’m focused on:

Expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities so every child, regardless of background, family income level, or ability, can start kindergarten prepared to learn.

Addressing resource inequities in K-12 education so states and school districts can provide safe facilities, counseling services, advanced courses, technology, extended learning opportunities, world language learning, rigorous career and technical education programs, and a well-rounded curriculum that includes the arts.

Making college more affordable by protecting and expanding existing federal student aid programs like Pell Grants and Federal Work Study and striving for debt-free college. In the short term, we must follow through on the promise of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by forgiving loan balances after ten years of public service. We should keep student loan interest rates low and help borrowers better manage student loan debt through easier access to income driven repayment plans. I worked my way through community college, college, and law school, and understand the importance of access and affordability. I’m also working on an overdue update of the Higher Education Act that will make meaningful and positive changes for students, families, and borrowers.

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Meet Suzanne

Suzanne knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. She worked her way through community college, university, and law school. She started her career at Legal Aid and worked as a consumer rights attorney. Throughout her career she’s been a leading advocate for public education, protecting the environment, and civil rights. She’s fighting for a better future for all Oregonians.

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