Pete Buttigieg on Education
Democratic Presidential Challenger; IN Mayor
I have seen how teachers are expected to dip into their own pockets to furnish their classrooms. Teachers are being expected to handle the mental health challenges that their students are facing because we don't have an adequate mental health system to support kids.
And now some politicians, because they aren't willing to face the need for commonsense gun law, are expecting teachers to somehow transform themselves into highly trained armed guards when there's a threat to a classroom.
We have to show not only with compensation, but with support for the profession overall our regard for those who are educating our kids. And, yes, that means a secretary of education who will support teachers. It also means investing.
BUTTIGIEG: I'm thinking about terms like dispersion of targets and the difference between cover and concealment that are things that I learned as part of military training. To see what we are accepting in terms of the expectation that this is just normal, that kids are going to have active shooter drills, sometimes before they're old enough to learn how to read, shows you that this country has its priorities wrong.
You look at something like universal background checks. This is something that 80 or 90% support in America and we still can't get it through Washington. It shows you what has to change in our political system. This should not be your problem, and it certainly shouldn't be the problem of the children that you serve.
BUTTIGIEG: If we could honor our teachers a little more like we do our soldiers and pay our teachers a little more like we do our doctors, this entire country would be a better place. So what we've got to do is make sure, yes, first of all, that more resources are going into public education. It means making sure that we massively expand the funding for Title I because, in particular, I'm concerned about those districts and schools where the students are most in need. And a lot of that needs to go to the compensation of teachers. The time has come for us to stand up and support public education in this country. And, yes, that begins with having a secretary of education who believes in public education and supports the profession.
BUTTIGIEG: That would be great for us. The next day, people would be out taking student loans wondering why they weren't lucky enough to get theirs wiped away completely, too. We can have debt-free college for low and middle-income students by expanding Pell Grants and compelling states to pick up more of the burden. For those who have a lot of debt, we can expand a public service loan forgiveness program, which is an excellent program that is almost impossible to actually get access to right now.
We've also got to work on student loan debt. If, when interest rates change, I can refinance the debt on our house, then it stands to reason that you should be able to do with student debt, too.
I think those two steps, coupled with a significant increase in Pell Grants, would make a big difference for college accessibility. And when we're increasing Pell Grants, let's peg it automatically to inflation.
A: I still want to do some math around it. I find it pretty appealing. I'm not as certain that I'm comfortable with people of that high an income participating until we have completed the transition to a more progressive tax code, because if you're north of $200,000, maybe you're at the point where we could ask you to take care of that on yourself. But the theory of it makes a lot of sense.
Buttigieg's campaign told NewsHour that the South Bend, Indiana mayor believes charter schools have a place in the school ecosystem, but that they shouldn't replace investment in traditional public schools.
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