Buttigieg unveils plan to expand access to public education

Buttigieg unveils plan to expand access to public education
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White House hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE on Saturday unveiled a new plan to expand access to public education by investing billions of dollars in federal funds into a litany of services. 

The plan would work to inject billions to improve early education, bolster support for teachers and expand opportunities for students outside the classroom. 

"Too often, access to education is predicted by income or zip code. And success can be determined before a child even sets foot in a classroom," the South Bend, Ind., mayor said.

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"Every child in America should have access to high quality education, and we need to support our nation’s teachers for the work they do within and outside the classroom," he continued. "If we honored our teachers a little more like soldiers and paid them a little more like doctors, this country would be a better place."

Buttigieg’s proposal calls for investing $700 billion to ensure universal early child care and pre-K for children from infancy to 5 years old and would ensure that no family pays more than 7 percent of income in early learning costs. The South Bend mayor would also invest $10 billion to study ways to combat racial and socioeconomic bias in early education and provide $2 billion annually for workforce development. 

To support schools and teachers, Buttigieg would invest more than $300 billion in new federal funding for Title I schools, increase salaries for educators, and increase federal support for apprenticeships, community schools and arts education. 

The plan would also work to prioritize mental health services, expand summer learning opportunities and help bridge the gap in school counselors at Title I and rural schools. 

Buttigieg scattered throughout his plan endorsements from educators who touted the need for his proposal.

"I adore teaching and I love all of my kids. I work at a Title 1 School where 75% of my students qualify for free lunch and 60% live below the poverty line. The most important thing to me is access to equitable education," said Carly from Ohio. "My school building is falling apart, and we do not have the funds to build a new one."

“I wake up every day to try and do the best I can for the kids I adore," she continued. "But I do not feel valued by a government that is funneling money away from schools like mine that desperately need it.” 

Several other 2020 candidates have launched their own plans to expand school resources and increase teacher salaries as access to public education, including higher education, emerges as a focal point of the Democratic primary. 

The plan comes as Buttigieg enjoys a surge of support in early state polls, with surveys showing him at or near the top in Iowa and New Hampshire, though he still trails a number of his competitors in Nevada and South Carolina.