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A World-Class Education for Every Child

All People Have the Right to Live a Prosperous Life

In America today, a child’s zip code and the color of their skin predict the quality of education they will receive. But the lottery of birth should never determine a child’s fate. With education playing a vital role in our economy and democracy, it’s time we reinvigorate a system suffering from decades of racism, underfunding, unequal distribution of public resources, and underpaid, overworked teachers.

Every dollar invested in our educational system drives future economic growth and helps to restore the promise of the American dream — that all people have the chance to live a prosperous life here. That means attracting and retaining excellent educators, closing the school readiness gap, raising high school graduation rates, revitalizing civic education and engagement, and addressing the growing mental health crisis among students so the youth of today can be prepared for tomorrow.

“I believe every American has a right to quality public education.”
─ Tom Steyer

As president, Tom will double federal investment in pre-K-12 education to equalize educational resources and learning opportunities so every child in America has access to a world-class education.

Compensate teachers for their influential work

Tom’s mother Marnie taught public school in Brooklyn, so his deep respect for our nation’s teachers stems from an early age. Educators have one of the most important jobs in America — inspiring, supporting, and preparing an entire generation for the future — and a Steyer administration will ensure teachers are taken care of. Tom will compensate educators as skilled professionals, and match every additional dollar states and districts spend to raise teacher pay at a two-to-one ratio until the compensation gap with similarly skilled professions is closed. To make sure educators are not drowning in debt, he will immediately forgive student loans for teachers after 10 years of service, as part of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Close the school readiness gap

Tom understands that investing in the early years can transform a child’s life, close the achievement gap, and benefit society overall. A Steyer administration will offer free, universal pre-K, ensuring all families can enroll their three and four-year-olds in a high-quality preschool staffed by teachers with similar qualifications and compensation to their K-12 counterparts. Tom will also expand the Early Head Start program that provides vital services to low-income pregnant women and families with kids under three.

Guarantee every child a world-class education

Every American has the right to quality public education — no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or their family’s income. But today there are major disparities in access and quality of learning opportunities. To tackle the resourcing gap, Tom will triple Title 1 funding to low-income students, and will better target those funds to make sure they reach the students who need them most. Tom’s administration will also invest $100 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade school facilities across the country, including expanding broadband access for rural schools.

Raise high school graduation rates

15% of our students — and significantly higher rates among students of color — are not graduating from high school, on time or ever. Raising the graduation rate to 90% would add $5.7 billion to the economy and unlock new opportunities for millions of students at risk of dropping out. Tom is committed to cutting the dropout rate in half by the end of his first term and achieving near-universal high school completion by the end of his second term.

Proficiency in reading is a key building block to learning and raising high school graduation rates. Nearly 90 percent of high school dropouts cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade. As president, Tom will launch the Every Child Reads Initiative, which commits new resources to the goal of helping every student read proficiently by the end of third grade. His administration will also pair every student performing below grade level with a tutor participating in his National Service Program.

Improve college and career readiness

A high school diploma should be a stepping stone to a brighter future, regardless of whether a student decides to pursue a college degree or vocational training. Tom’s administration will provide low- and middle-income students with access to free or low-cost SAT and ACT prep courses, assistance filling out financial aid forms, and career counselors who can advise on school selection and the application process. Tom will also work to expand apprenticeship and workforce credentialing programs to provide many roads to success.

Revitalize civic education and engagement

Only a quarter of Americans can identify all three branches of government, and the majority of Americans have difficulty distinguishing fact from opinion. The health of our democracy depends on an engaged, informed citizenry holding its leaders accountable. Tom’s administration will put renewed focus on civic education, and change the way the subject is taught to make it more relevant and action-oriented. Tom’s plan also will invest in developing a media literacy curriculum for educators to help students distinguish fact from opinion and identify fake news.

Address the student mental health crisis

Teenage anxiety and suicide rates are on the rise. Tom will fight to protect our students from toxic stress and ensure everyone has access to mental health services. He will provide funding to states to double the number of mental health professionals on campus, and adopt school-based mental health programs that have been proven to foster student well-being and academic success. A Steyer administration also will fund pilot programs to teach students to safely interact with digital technologies — one of the culprits behind rising teenage anxiety.

Learn more about Tom’s education policy »