Advocating for Education
Education is necessary for young people to thrive in our global community. In Hawai’i, many families face unique challenges in gaining access to a high-quality, affordable education. Tulsi has fought to protect funding for education programs, accountability standards, and for disadvantaged and underserved children. She believes that as a nation we must continue to provide to ensure that every child can attain the education they need to be successful.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Brings Needed Reform
In the 114th Congress, Tulsi supported and voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which gives states more flexibility to determine the best way to measure success in their schools, and provides support for innovation, teacher quality, STEM education, and more. The ESSA, signed into law in December 2015, also included language Tulsi introduced to reauthorize the Native Hawaiian Education Act, which provides grants for innovative Native Hawaiian educational programs across the State of Hawaiʻi.
Improving STEAM Opportunities for Our Keiki
Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) based knowledge and skills are critical to today's competitive, globalized economy. Advancements in technology continue to drive an increase in demand for STEAM-based labor domestically and globally. It is imperative that our keiki have the opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills that will meet the demands of the 21st century economy. Federal STEAM education programs administered by the National Science Foundation, the Departments of Education, Energy, and others benefit our students by equipping them with the skills necessary to usher in new technology and innovation that improve national prosperity and strengthen our national security. Tulsi is working to improve STEAM education standards, teacher quality, and accountability, and is a member of the Congressional Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Caucus. She also hosts an annual Congressional Art Competition to encourage and recognize student’s artistic talent in Hawai‘i's 2nd Congressional district.
Making Higher Education Affordable
Whether it’s vocational training or a college degree, education should not be cost-prohibitive for anyone. Tulsi supports keeping interest loan rates affordable for students, and has cosponsored bipartisan legislation like the HELP for Students and Parents Act, to provide incentives for employers to make tax-free contributions to an employee's student loan repayment plan. She has also introduced legislation like the Chris Kotch VA Education Access Act, to help ensure our veterans returning home receive the education benefits they're entitled to.
Tulsi has also supported legislation like the College for All Act, which would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families that make up to $125,000 a year, and it would make community college tuition fee-free for everyone-- something that’s already practice in countries like Germany, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It would also help us to dramatically reduce crushing student loan debt for both our students and their parents by cutting all student loan interest rates for new borrowers in half; enabling existing borrowers to refinance their loans based on the interest rates available to new borrowers – less than 2 percent for federal loans made to undergraduates; and preventing the federal government from profiting off of the student loan program. She has also helped introduce legislation that was recently signed into law that would extend and expand higher education benefits for our veteran in the Forever GI Bill and supported legislation to assist refugees and people who are seeking asylum to help them get in state tuition rates, and open the door for new opportunities to them.
Investing in Early Education
Research shows the many short- and long-term benefits of early childhood education, including increased academic development, lower rates of child abuse, neglect, income inequality and crime. Tulsi has visited preschools and Head Start classrooms across Hawai‘i, and seen how early childhood education programs have had a great impact on our keiki and our communities. Tulsi understands that investing in our children is an investment in our future, and is continuing to work to increase funding for Head Start and early education programs in Hawai‘i and across the country.