As many first-generation Americans, my parents recognized the incredible power of education to provide a better life for their children. Once my sisters and I were born, my parents tirelessly dedicated themselves to our education – always in search of the best enrichment and magnet programs they could find and offer us. And through this process, my mom unearthed a passion for education, dedicating almost 20 years of her life to working in education administration.
For these reasons, I know how important it is to continuously invest in our education system. In 2018, I had the honor of serving on the Florida Influencers Education Working Group, which allowed me to gain invaluable insights into our education system and shed light on the disturbing and growing achievement gaps that exist – especially in communities of color – to create economic opportunity and mobility. It is no surprise that in the 2016 election, eight in ten Latinos cited education as “very important to their vote,” alongside other important issues such as the economy and healthcare. Just as it was a top issue in the 2016 election, it absolutely will be a determining factor in the upcoming 2020.
A recent study by Georgetown University found that “88 percent of Latinos believe a college degree is important for obtaining financial security compared to 74 percent of all Americans.” Latinos understand how critical a college degree is in achieving the American dream. Moreover, the Hispanic community is aware that education is the ladder to upward mobility; and that every grade, every certificate, and every degree is a step in that ladder. Times have changed, and a high school diploma simply isn’t enough. We need a president who understands the importance of investing in our children, educators and schools.
Joe Biden understands the struggles our educators face and how important it is to ensure they are prepared to get ahead. As Biden has said: “don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.” It is unacceptable that teachers are forced to get a second job or spend their own money on school supplies. And, it is unacceptable that high schools and middle schools lack the resources to make sure that our students are physically and emotionally healthy so that they can concentrate on learning; and that our teachers are able to teach.
If Joe Biden is elected president, he will make sure that our teachers are supported by giving them the pay and dignity they deserve. Biden is calling for tripling funding for schools with a high proportion of students from low-income families and requiring those funds be used for offering teachers competitive wages and benefits, universal pre-k for three and four-year olds, and rigorous course offerings. The reality is that today, too many school districts across the country, schools in low-income communities or communities of color don’t have the resources to offer rigorous classes that pave the way for college or high-paying jobs. This is unacceptable. As Biden says, no one’s future should be determined by their zip code, race, parents’ income or disability.
In the race for college credentials, Biden understands that early childhood development support is critical, especially for lower-income families where having access to quality pre-k is a financial, logistical and emotional ordeal. In order to truly commit to closing the achievement gap, early childhood education is a key piece of the puzzle. President Biden’s education plan would include access to high-quality universal pre-kindergarten, expand home visiting, and provide funding to ensure that there are early childhood development experts in every community health center and pediatricians’ offices with a high percentage of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program patients. Biden’s plan is designed to provide support for children and their families at every stage.
Education is the foundation for our future and our children, and educators deserve our support every step of the way.
L. Felice Gorordo is a member of the Biden for President’s National Finance Committee.