The United States must do a better job investing in education to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of where they grow up or what background they come from. From child care and early childhood education to K-12 public schools and the higher education system, we need to increase our investments and reorient our priorities to ensure equitable opportunities for all children.

Child Care and Early Childhood Education: Investing in child care is investing in our children’s future. Access to quality child care is critical to the intellectual and social development of our children and better prepares them to be successful in school. These opportunities should not be reserved for those who can afford it. I support enacting federal policies to make universal child care possible such as the Child Care for Working Families Act led by Senator Patty Murray. I have pushed for legislation to cap child care costs for low- and middle-income families and invest in child care facilities and workers. Universal child care would also lift a huge burden placed on families and parents by reducing household costs and enabling them to continue working.

K-12 Public Schools: I believe we must drastically increase our investment in public schools. Bills such as the Rebuild America’s Schools Act would make a $100 billion investment in upgrading America’s schools. Because federal resources can only be used for school repair costs in cases of disaster, investments in public school construction and maintenance has dwindled, leaving many students without safe and healthy school facilities. I am also an advocate of programs that help prepare students for their next steps after high school such as the TRIO program, which helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds to prepare for and excel in college.

Career and Technical Education and Workforce Training: The current education system focuses too much on pushing students into four-year higher education institutions instead of exploring all available options that would best fit an individual’s circumstances. The education and skills necessary for current and future in-demand, good paying jobs – whether in technology, clean energy, or infrastructure – can often be attained at community and technical colleges and through apprenticeship programs. We need to reduce the barriers to and increase funding for these programs. Addressing these gaps in our current education and workforce system are a priority of mine.

Higher Education: Postsecondary education should be affordable for everyone. Congress must work together to reform our postsecondary education system and make investments that will lower the cost of colleges and universities throughout the U.S. so that students are not burdened by such significant debt. I support making public colleges and universities tuition-free for low-income individuals, increasing the value of the Pell Grant program, expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and implementing more generous student loan repayment plans for those who do borrow money for tuition.

I have introduced several pieces of legislation to strengthen our education system:

I introduced the Community and Technical College Investment Act to eliminate the cost of community and technical colleges for students across the country. The bill would also make investments directly in community and technical colleges to expand their capacity to meet growing workforce needs and enable these schools to establish and expand wraparound support services to help reduce financial barriers that prevent some students from enrolling in and completing their degrees and credentials.

I introduced the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act to provide a dedicated stream of funding to cover costs such as housing, child care, and transportation for people participating in workforce training and apprenticeship programs – reducing financial barriers that would prevent individuals from pursuing and completing these vital career pathways.

For more information on this issue, sign up to receive Congressman Smith’s email updates.

More on Education