Michael Bennet promises free preschool, community college in education plan

Michael Bennet promises free preschool, community college in education plan
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White House hopeful Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBiden, Buttigieg condemn rocket attacks on Israel Press: Another billionaire need not apply Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (D-Colo.) on Thursday unveiled a sweeping education plan that would offer “every child” an opportunity to "flourish” by 2028 and promises free preschool and community college. 

Bennet, a former superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, said he’s introducing the plan to rectify historic racial and wealth disparities in the public education system.

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“The Bennet Administration will make a commitment that by 2028, every child born in this country, regardless of circumstance, will be at the center of a community that offers them a real chance to flourish personally and prosper financially,” said Bennet. “Is 2028 ambitious? Yes. Is it doable? Yes. Must we do it? Yes. It is a moral and economic imperative. Equal must really be equal.” 

To help expand access to public education for children, his presidency would work to establish free, universal preschool for all four-year-olds by 2024 and for all three-year-olds by 2027, saying the federal government will chip in $1 for every $3 spent by local and state governments to fund preschool.

Bennet would also “immediately” make community college free and make four-year public colleges debt-free for low- and middle-income families up to 300 percent of the federal poverty threshold through Pell grants and other aid. Public colleges will eventually become debt-free for every student “over time.”

To better prepare students for the workforce, Bennet said his administration would create 500 Regional Opportunity Compacts to help bridge the divide between what is taught in schools and the needs of local employers. 

Other aspects of his plan include boosting teacher pay, investing in career and technical training for students who don’t complete a traditional four-year college degree and cap student loan payments at 8 percent of income, among other things.

A Bennet campaign spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the plan would be financed by repealing parts of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE's 2017 tax cuts, raising the corporate and top tax rates, taxing intergenerational transfers of wealth and combating tax evasion by wealthy Americans.

Education has emerged as one of several key issues in the crowded Democratic presidential primary, with candidates debating how to make higher education more affordable and whether public institutions should be free or debt-free. 

Bennet has stagnated near the bottom of most national and statewide polls and fallen behind several higher-profile candidates in fundraising. He failed to qualify for next week’s primary debate.