I support the "Rebuild America's Schools Act" that's being championed by Congressman Bobby Scott. As an educator for 30 years, I recognize the importance of rebuilding the physical & digital infrastructure of our public schools. This is the type of legislation that I will vigorously fight for in Washington, D.C.
American children, no matter their zip code, deserve to learn in safe school buildings with air fit to breathe. How can we expect children to learn when their buildings are crumbling around them? What message are we sending our minority students and those living in high poverty areas when we allow their schools to become dilapidated and don't provide the digital infrastructure needed to support 21st century learning?
We are quick to label schools as failing and hold them accountable with sanctions, yet we don't provide adequate funding for them. Chesapeake Public Schools' Superintendent, Dr. James Roberts, has been an outspoken advocate for funding for capital projects for public schools for many years and recently stated in his guest column in The Virginian Pilot, "I have spoken and written many times about the importance of providing adequate public school funding for our school divisions’ needs. The state doesn’t provide any money for capital needs to school divisions. That funding falls completely on each locality." If the localities don't have the revenue to maintain and repair the buildings, what happens? A Department of Education study from 2014 states it will cost an estimated $197 billion to bring all public schools into good condition. Too many school buildings need roofing repairs, HVAC systems, and updated infrastructure to meet the ever increasing demands of technology.
I've taught for 30 years in old buildings and new. I've taught in buildings with black mold, portables with holes in the floor, and spotty internet with connectivity issues because of broadband width. I've taught in schools from affluent neighborhoods to those struggling economically and understand and can speak with first-hand knowledge to the struggles of trying to meet the needs of children from all areas. As your Representative in Congress, I'll fight alongside Congressman Bobby Scott to provide legislation that ensures all American children attend schools that have the internet connectivity necessary for digital learning and are free from health and safety threats.