My platform is centered on three key pillars: investing in public education, expanding access to higher education, and supporting teachers and school staff.
Investing in Public Education: We must invest in public education to ensure that all students have access to high-quality education regardless of their ZIP code. To achieve this, I propose the following policies:
Increase funding for public schools: Virginia's public schools are currently underfunded, which puts a strain on teachers, students, and their families. I will work to increase funding for public schools to ensure that students have access to adequate resources and support. I want for public education to actually receive the gambling revenue from both the state lottery and the new casinos. We also need to use some of the proceeds from marijuana sales on funding education.
Reduce class sizes: Smaller class sizes have been shown to improve student achievement and academic performance. I will work to reduce class sizes in Virginia's public schools, particularly in schools with high poverty rates and in historically marginalized communities.
Expand early childhood education: Early childhood education is critical for laying the foundation for academic success. We have had great success here in our district and I will work to expand access to high-quality early childhood education programs for all families in Virginia.
Expanding Access to Higher Education: My personal story is proof that higher education is a key pathway to upward mobility and economic opportunity. However, college has become increasingly unaffordable for many families in Virginia. To address this issue, I propose the following policies:
Expand financial aid: Many students need financial aid to pay for college, but Virginia's financial aid programs are currently underfunded. I will work to expand financial aid programs to ensure that all students have access to the support they need to pursue higher education.
Support apprenticeship programs: Apprenticeship programs are a great way for students to gain hands-on experience and job training while earning a wage. I will work to support and expand apprenticeship programs in Virginia to provide more pathways to good-paying jobs.
Supporting Teachers and School Staff: Teachers and school staff play a critical role in shaping the future of our children and our commonwealth. We must ensure that they have the resources, support, and respect they need to do their jobs effectively. To achieve this, I propose the following policies:
Craft a clear framework for collective bargaining across Virginia. We are proud of the work that we have done empowering teachers by beginning the collective bargaining process here in Charlottesville and Albemarle, but this would have been much faster and smoother with state guidance. We need to make this process easier for other districts so that we are empowering teachers across Virginia.
Invest in teacher retention and recruitment with an eye towards equity. (New York data?) Students are more successful when they have at least one teacher that looks like them. We must make sure that our educators are reflective of our students.
Increase teacher pay: Virginia's teachers are some of the lowest-paid in the nation. I will work to increase teacher pay to attract and retain high-quality educators.
Expand professional development opportunities: Continuing education and professional development are critical for ensuring that teachers have the skills and knowledge they need to effectively teach our students. I will work to expand professional development opportunities for teachers and school staff.
Support mental health services: Teachers and school staff are often the first line of defense for identifying and addressing mental health issues in students. I will work to expand access to mental health services in Virginia's public schools to ensure that all students receive the support they need to thrive.