Randy Bryce’s Education Plan
Expand Access to Early Childhood Education. The cost of childcare is overwhelming for even solidly middle class families, and more and more studies show the extraordinary social and educational benefits of placing children in educational settings before Kindergarten. As a Congressman, Randy would support the expansion of Head Start, Early Head Start, and quality pre-k programs to help more middle class families who want to place their children in these settings do so. Paul Ryan has proposed budgets that would significantly risk funding for Head Start.
Protect Federal Funding for Low-Income Students and Students with Disabilities. Randy supports all education grants that flow directly from federal agencies to school districts and other qualifying education services. Among the largest are Title I grants, targeted for schools with high numbers of low-income students. Paul Ryan proposed cutting $2.7 billion from these grants, which between 2015 and 2016 helped 68,614 public schools offer more academic support and develop better teaching methods. IDEA grants are another type of flow-through resource to help schools teach students with disabilities. Last year, $185 million in IDEA funds benefitted Wisconsin’s schools and other education providers. Paul Ryan has also proposed cutting special education funding by $2.2 billion.
Restore Federal Impact Aid for Wisconsin Schools. Schools that serve children living on federal land — such as Native American reservations or U.S. military bases — are at a disadvantage when it comes to raising funds through local property taxes. In order to help these districts pay teacher salaries and improve classrooms without burdening local taxpayers, Randy champions the restoration of funding for Impact Aid, a federal program that hasn’t been fully funded to meet Wisconsin’s needs since 1969. To ensure that all Wisconsin students, including children of servicemembers and students of Native American heritage, are given the resources to excel in the classroom, Randy will fight to restore full funding of the Impact Aid program.
Oppose Policies that Take Money from Public Schools to Fund For-Profit Schools. Randy believes that every child deserves a quality education. That means no student should see money taken from their classroom in order to serve another, and all schools should be held to the same standards. Randy believes charter, private and traditional public schools can all thrive in our country. The federal government just needs to take a leading role in ensuring that we are adequately funding what is currently a desperately underfunded system. Unfortunately, both President Trump and Speaker Ryan have repeatedly proposed cuts to education – Speaker Ryan by as much as $145 billion over 10 years. As a Congressman, Randy will fight to increase funding so that all our students can succeed. To hear more from Randy on this topic, watch HERE.
Fight for Funding to Keep Class Sizes Small and Students on Grade Level. Small class sizes allow for one-on-one interaction between students and educators. As a Congressman, Randy would support efforts to increase funding and teacher training and recruitment in order to reduce class sizes, particularly in the younger grades, which is essential to ensuring our students can read at grade level by fourth grade. Studies show if we miss that critical milestone, our students are much more likely to drop out down the line.
Protect School Lunch & Breakfast Programs and Expand the Community School Model. It’s long been recognized that a child cannot succeed in school if they are too hungry to focus. However, recently, programs for school lunches have been threatened. In 2016, Paul Ryan proposed replacing funding for the federal lunch program with a capped block grant program controlled by states. As a Congressman, Randy would not only oppose measures to limit funding for the federal lunch and breakfast program, but he would also look for other ways to help students who face tremendous challenges outside the classroom. Just as a hungry child can not be expected to do their academic best, neither can a child who does not have clean clothes, stable housing, or who has been traumatized by violence. The community school model has proved invaluable in addressing these challenges and, as a Congressman, Randy would work to spread this model in the First District by recruiting community partners, businesses and government to join with their neighborhood public schools and provide new services for students and their families on school grounds. These could include access to job training programs, more after school programs, mental and general health practitioners, psychologists, and social workers.
Protect Funding for Arts and Music in School. President Trump and Paul Ryan have put forward numerous proposals that would devastate funding for nonprofits that provide our students with arts and music enrichment. As a Congressman, Randy would oppose these funding cuts to the National Endowment for The Arts, and seek to increase federal funding for art and music in school across the board, so that schools aren’t as reliant on external partnerships for this essential part of a child’s education, in the first place.
Establish Federal Guidelines for Children’s Health and Safety in School. Currently, children have no statutory right to a safe and healthy school environment, and there also are no national standards for selecting new school building sites. Consequently, schools have been built on old Superfund sites and brownfields, and many students are educated in substandard environment, where they have to contend with contaminated lead water and other safety issues. Our students and teachers deserve to feel safe and welcome, so, as a Congressman, Randy would support establishing federal guidelines for children’s health and safety in school and providing additional funding to School Districts to make these infrastructure changes.
Make School Facilities More Accessible. According to the 2010 census, there are 2.8 million students in the U.S. who have a disability. The American Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all public schools and playgrounds be accessible to handicapped individuals. But some communities struggle to afford these necessary renovations. The latest census reports that students who had difficulty getting around were least likely to be enrolled in school, compared to children with impaired sight, vision and cognition. Randy would work hard to change this — proposing additional funding to help towns remove physical barriers to all students from their public schools.
Return Nurses, Counselors and Other Mental Health Supports to Schools. Randy believes that our children deserve a healthy, safe learning environment at school. Without adequate resources, students overwhelmed with academic or emotional stress pose a risk to their lives and their peers. We need to increase federal funding to fix the serious shortage of mental health professionals in Wisconsin schools, and to encourage cooperation with mental health agencies. This could support services like mental health trainings for our teachers, mental health information programs for our students, and hiring counselors and nurses for our schools. Randy backs the highest funding possible for Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants under the Every Student Succeed Acts (ESSA). He will work to ensure that students with severe mental illnesses are not neglected by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and receive special education services.
Fight Against So-Called Right to Work Policies. Randy got his start in politics fighting against Act 10, which attacked public sector unions, including teachers, in Wisconsin. Now, billionaires and special interest groups are trying to spread what happened to teachers in Wisconsin across the country. As a Congressman, Randy would fight to protect teachers’ rights – because you can’t have strong schools without strong teachers. One key example of how weakening teachers hurts their students is the issue of dedicated prep time. To do their best for students, educators need dedicated duty-free preparation time during the work day, but this time is often the first victim of a “right to work” push. As a Congressman, Randy would be a strong advocate for this dedicated time and he would seek out federal solutions to protect teachers and students from losing other rights that teachers’ unions have fought so hard to win. Randy would also be an advocate for charter school staff who may want to unionize, but face intimidation from management.
Fix Healthcare Loophole for Retired Teachers and Ensure Living Wage and Benefits for all Paraprofessional School Staff. Retired teachers who return to schools on a part-time basis should not lose their health benefits, but a provision in the Affordable Care Act has created uncertainty around whether that could occur. Given staff shortages in Wisconsin’s schools, it is crucial that retirees not be deterred from returning and it is also important that paraprofessional school staff receive health benefits and a living wage. Paraprofessionals are essential to the strength of our schools, serving as library aides, teachers’ aides, and aides for students with special needs, but many are paid as little as $10.95/hour. As a Congressman, Randy will ensure the ACA clarifies its position regarding retired teachers, and he will fight for benefits and good wages for paraprofessionals, so our schools can reach the staffing levels they need to be successful, and the people who care for our children can care for their own, as well.
Tuition-Free Public Colleges and Universities. Our K-12 education system was founded on the common sense belief that in order to have an economically productive society the government should provide the level of education necessary for students to sustain themselves and their future families. Today, almost all family sustaining jobs require some college education or secondary training. The College for All Act would eliminate tuition at 4-year public colleges and universities for 80 percent of the population and increase federal and state aid to compensate.
Fight for Student Loan Debt Relief. Instead of incentivizing students to advance their education, and their earning power, our federal government currently places an excessively high interest rate on federal student loans. The government should not make a profit off of these students and their families. We should cap the federal student loan interest rate and ultimately look to lower it. Current borrowers should also be able to refinance their student loans the same as they can with mortgages. Additionally, Loan forgiveness and scholarships should be developed for teachers and education support professionals in high-needs disciplines and hard-to-staff schools. Paul Ryan has proposed a very different set of ideas regarding college loans, including opposing a measure to prevent student loan interest from doubling; a $90 million cut to Pell Grants; and charging interest on loans while students are still in school.
Protecting Victims of Sexual Assault on Campus. Last Year, Betsy Devos rolled back protections for victims of sexual assault, discouraging victims from reporting and creating confusion among college campuses about how to handle these reports. As a Congressman, Randy would lobby to restore these protections, which finally provided victims a fair shot at justice and sent a strong message to all students to treat their partners with respect and to clearly obtain their consent at all times.
Protect Students from Predatory For-Profit Colleges. For-profit colleges have come under scrutiny and criticism for high costs; aggressive, questionable recruitment practices; poor financial management; and an inadequate track record of preparing students to finish college and find gainful employment. Regrettably, Paul Ryan has often been on the side of these for-profit institutions, voting against the “gainful employment rule,” which would have denied federal aid to vocational schools whose graduates consistently can’t find work. As a Congressman, Randy would support restoring Obama-era regulations that the Trump administration has reversed, so that we can hold these for-profit institutions accountable and protect students from scams.
Increase Vocational Training. As a Congressman, Randy would fight to increase funding for vocational training for traditional and non-traditional students. One model would be the 21st Century Strengthening Hands On Programs that Cultivate Learning Approaches for Successful Students Act, which would increase funding for high-tech manufacturing training n traditional school settings. Another model would be The Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, which would ease the financial burden for adults seeking new training by allowing them to use Pell Grants to get industry-based credential while enrolled in short-term job training programs. Two other options that Randy would support in order to expand apprenticeship opportunities would be The Promoting Apprenticeships through Regional Training Networks for Employers’ Required Skills (PARTNERS) Act and The Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act.
Listen to our Educators. Randy believes our schools thrive when educators have a voice. These are, after all, the people working closest with our children. So, before taking any votes on education policy issues, Randy will meet with educators from all sides of the education debate to get meaningful input from educators who will ultimately implement policies.