closing the opportunity gap with a more equitable education system

Educating our children has become more complex as a result of this global pandemic. But our educators and parents know that these issues existed before this global pandemic. We must eliminate the racial inequalities in our educational systems. 
 
For New Mexico, I have been on the frontlines of fighting for our students, our educators, and our communities. As a top aide for the Senate Democratic Caucus, I helped push back against Republican Governor Susana Martinez’s efforts to gut necessary and vital funding for our public schools.
 
As the legislative director for Governor Lujan Grisham, I helped make bold investments in our educational programs, such as increased funding for K-5+ and extended learning time. I fiercely advocated  to raise our educators’ salaries  and helped pass legislation to support the expansion of our community schools—providing wrap-around support for students in communities across New Mexico, including Native and Tribal communities, Black and Hispanic communities, and economically disadvantaged communities
 
Following the creation of the New Mexico Early Childhood Education & Care Department, I led the effort within the governor’s office to secure $320 million for the Early Childhood Education Trust Fund—a new and long-term funding source to invest in New Mexico’s children. 
 
I have personally experienced the challenges that many New Mexicans confront with student-loan debt inhibiting financial security. I know that America is crippling generations of Americans by keeping them from owning homes, starting businesses, and being active members in our economy.
 
After Governor Lujan Grisham announced her vision to create the Opportunity Scholarship and provide tuition-free education at New Mexico public colleges and universities for our state’s students, I ensured the foundation for this reality was included within the state’s budget. My efforts resulted in an investment of $17 million to provide tuition and fee assistance for recent high school graduates and returning adult learners who are enrolled as full-time students in two-year higher education and degree programs. 
 
Even before COVID-19, our education crisis was crippling working families across America and right here at home in New Mexico. Too many of us have struggled to put ourselves and our families through school, and too many of us have had to sacrifice our financial security and our time in order to desperately try to provide schooling. 
 
As we look to rebuild in the wake of COVID-19, we must finally wholeheartedly support our schools and educators, and we must ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background, zip code, or their family's financial situation. 
 
I know that we also have a responsibility to make investments in our schools’ crippling and outdated infrastructure. We must ensure that every student has access to high-speed broadband and the technology necessary to receive a world-class education. This also includes delivering resources that schools need to install and maintain proper ventilation and filtration systems — not just during the pandemic but beyond.
 
In Congress, I will work to expand access to education to increase the resources available to students, including: 
 
Higher Education:

  • Making community colleges, public colleges, and public universities free. Every student should be able to attend college without financial barriers, and burdens after graduation.

  • Expanding existing programs, like Pell Grants, to make it easier to afford higher education

  • Support efforts to eliminate existing student loan debt.

  • Cover the full costs of attendance for low-income students. 

  • Wipe away all student debt for our public educators. 

  • Expand the public service loan forgiveness program forgiving at least 20% of debt for each year of service.

 
Early Childhood Education to 12th Grade  

  • Supporting investments in our public education system because every child, no matter where they live, deserves a world-class education

  • End the School to Prison pipeline by abolishing corporal punishment and increasing the number of counsellors, social workers, and nurses per school

  • Support investments to aggressively expand community schools that provide wraparound services and support for students and their families inside as well as outside of the school

  • Push to increase funding for Grow Your Own Teacher programs that provide opportunities for educational assistants to become licensed teachers.

  • Supporting federal investments to promote culturally competent education. 

  • Supporting investments to allow schools to reduce class sizes and reduce high student-to-teacher ratios

  • Supporting investments in job training and apprenticeship programs to attract high caliber educators to low performing schools 

  • Supporting universal “pre-K” – because every child deserves the same basic protection and chance to pursue their dreams

  • Childcare should be free for the majority of Americans. Ensuring universal access to child-care, which is critical to ensuring that families and children can focus attention and resources on education

  • Protect LGBTQ+ students by passing the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act 

  • Opposing efforts to take funding away from public schools, such as vouchers. 

  • Support investments into repairing and revamping public school facilities so that every student has a state-of-the-art classroom 

  • Support investments to ensure the highest level of public health standards within our classrooms including proper ventilation 

Victor Reyes for Congress

P.O. Box 7301

Albuquerque, NM 87194

info@victorreyes.org