Heidi’s PlatformHeidi is running in the Democratic primary for US Representative of Texas District 25. Her support comes from the grassroots, not big donors, so when she is elected she will answer to people and stand up to big business.
Join us to keep building our movement
Medicare for All
Healthcare is a human right and right now too many people go without it. Texans feel deeply the failure of our current healthcare system: we lead the country in people without health insurance, and have seen the most rural hospital closings of any state in the last 10 years. District 25 saw the 2014 closure of a rural hospital in Whitney, thirty-five miles north of Waco. Working-class Texans are putting off necessary surgeries and doctor visits because we simply can’t afford them. Others are forced to use sites like GoFundMe to raise money for expensive hospital visits or life-saving medications like insulin. Meanwhile, health insurance companies and private hospitals are making record profits.
Heidi Sloan has fought for health justice: with the Austin Democratic Socialists of America, she fought for the right of workers in Austin to have paid sick days, and urged Congressman Doggett of TX-10 to become a cosigner of the Medicare for All Act of 2019.
Pass the Medicare for All Act of 2019
By stabilizing the way that hospitals would receive payment for services, it would ensure that rural Americans aren’t threatened by more closures, and it would make doctors and nurses happier too: allowing them to spend more time caring for their patients, and less time in front of a computer screen as they fill out complicated claims for different insurance companies. Medicare for All would give people the freedom to see the doctor that they want without worrying about in-network or out-of-network, and the freedom to search for a new job without the fear of losing their family’s access to healthcare.
We know that our current health system doesn’t work, and yet we’re paying more per person than any other developed nation. A universal system – like almost every other developed country has – will bring down costs and ensure that everyone has the mental and physical healthcare that they need.
Affirm the rights of the disabled
I support the Medicare for All of 2019 bill and the Disability Integration Act of 2019 for their commitment to funding community-based care solutions and ensuring affordable, accessible, and integrated housing for people with disabilities who might otherwise be placed in institutions.
I believe in a society that does not judge the value of a person based on how much profit they can produce for the rich, but values their existence as human beings and ensures that everyone’s needs are met.
The right to abortion
Health is more than healthcare
Housing for All
Decent housing is a basic human need, but we have let greed and profit deprive thousands of Texans of safe, stable, affordable homes. Long-time residents are pushed out of their neighborhoods by explosive rents and gentrification. We see working class families, communities of color, artists, musicians, students, and retirees displaced for luxury condos and corporate chains.
The market builds houses for investors, not homes for people. Wall Street sees our homes not as places for humans to live but as assets they can use to make profits. Every year, housing in central Texas gets more expensive, more people have to move further away from where they work, and more people end up homeless.
Housing is a human right. We will fight against predatory foreclosures and evictions to keep people in their homes. We will use public money to build beautiful, eco-friendly housing available to everyone.
Build millions of affordable homes
Central Texas has a rich history of public housing. From the Rosewood Courts, Santa Rita Courts and Chalmers Courts built in the 30s in Austin, to LBJ’s Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965, Central Texas has been at the forefront of the fight for housing as a human right. The right wing has fought to eliminate public housing, but we are fighting back. In 2018, I helped rally for Austin to pass the largest affordable housing bond is Texas history.
We will continue this fight until housing is a human right for all Texans.
An end to homelessness
National Rent Control
Rents in Central Texas are increasing at an out of control pace. This is a major cause of gentrification, eviction and homelessness. Texas and many other states prevent cities from passing their own rent control laws.
We must pass a national rent cap that prevents landlords from increasing rent by more than 3% a year. If they make significant improvements to a home, they can apply for an exception, but no one should have to face steep rent increases.
This 3% law will act as the minimum and we will open up legal avenues for states and cities to pass even stronger rent control laws.
Strengthen tenants' rights
Keeping Wall Street out of your home
The 2008 financial crisis was caused by criminals who used predatory lending to make money off of hard-working people who lost their homes as a result. These criminals especially targeted Black communities. I will use my power to go after predatory lenders, and give people facing foreclosure more options to work out their loan situation. Wall Street makes money by foreclosing our homes, and we will fight to stop them.
A Homes Guarantee
A Green New Deal
Climate change is real and it is destroying our planet. Scientists say we have 10 to 12 years to transform our society before we face disaster. We see this as an opportunity. In the 1940s Americans transformed our economy to produce the materials we needed to win World War II. If we approach climate change in the same way we can transform our society, prevent the worst of climate change and create a society that works for people and not for profit.
Telling the truth
I endorse the AOC-Markey Green New Deal Resolution and the Sanders-AOC Climate Emergency Resolution. These mark a new movement to respond to climate emergency with transformative action.
Roger Williams, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has blocked every attempt to address climate change while he’s been in office. The oil and gas industry is so sure that their profits are safe with him in office that they have given him nearly one million dollars in campaign contributions since he first ran in 2012. We must stand up to those making a fortune by betting on our future and take action on climate change now to ensure that our planet is healthy and habitable for our children and grandchildren.
Jobs for all
Invest in public transit and public homes
An end to fossil fuels
I will fight to phase out the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. and replace it with a publicly-owned renewable energy system by 2030. This means banning fracking and oil and gas production on federal lands, banning U.S. export of coal, gas and crude oil, ending U.S. fossil fuel subsidies and transferring them to renewable energy infrastructure. I will enact a moratorium on fossil fuel infrastructure and production, halting projects such as the Permian Highway Pipeline through the Texas Hill Country.
A just transition for workers
Childcare and abortion
Raising children should not be a for-profit industry. That’s why our platform focuses on healthcare, abortion, childcare, and education – so that families can have the resources we need to raise happy, healthy families, when and how and if they choose, regardless of how much money we make. We believe the decision of whether and when to start a family is deeply personal. If the answer is no, we support people in that choice, and if the answer is yes, we support them too.
No compromise on abortion
Medicare for All and the Hyde Amendment
Paid family leave
Parents deserve paid time off to care for children. Time off must be provided to all parents, both those recovering from childbirth and those who are not, because welcoming new adopted children and supporting partners recovering from childbirth are both crucially important jobs. I fought for Paid Sick Days here in Austin and we won. Now it’s time to fight for paid parental leave for all.
Support for new families
Workplace Democracy and unions for all
We spend most of our waking hours at work. If we don’t have democracy in the workplace, then we are not living in a democratic society. The only way we can win our country back from the 1% is standing shoulder to shoulder with our co-workers and fighting back together in the workplace. To fully empower workers in our fight, we must expand workplace democracy while reducing the power bosses and big corporations have over us – at our jobs and in our lives.
“Card Check” recognition for new unions
We must make it easier for workers to win recognition for new unions by doing away with the current overly complicated system of union elections and reinstating a simple majority signup process. This makes it harder for bosses to undermine unions and easier for workers to win.
Ban mandatory anti-union meetings
Current labor law allows for companies to hire high dollar union busting firms to mount extensive anti-union campaigns when workers attempt to organize. One frequently used tactic is the “captive audience meeting” in which management forces workers, on threat of being fired, to listen to threats and anti-union propaganda, sometimes for hours at a time. We must guarantee the federally protected right to organize and ban bosses’ interference in union organizing.
Mandatory first contract
Even when workers overcome all the obstacles and win recognition for their union, many are still unable to secure a contract. Loopholes in our current labor laws allow companies to drag their feet and avoid bargaining in good faith with their workers. We must close these loopholes and make sure bosses come to the table, negotiate, and agree to a contract in a timely fashion.
Pass the PRO act
The “Protecting the Right to Organize Act”, introduced to the 116th Congress, currently has over 200 cosponsors in the House and 40 in the Senate. The PRO Act will restore many of the labor rights taken away by the passage of Taft-Hartley in 1947 and set the stage for a new resurgence in union size and strength.
Collective bargaining rights for all public sector workers
Many states including Texas currently prevent public sector workers from bargaining collectively for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. We must pass the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2019 and ensure that government workers are guaranteed the same right to democracy at work.
Right to Strike for federal workers
From December 2018 to January 2019, the Federal government was “shut down” because of President Trump’s attempts to allocate $5.7 billion to build a border wall between the US and Mexico. During this shut down, 380,000 federal workers were furloughed and 420,000 workers were required to work without any payment. Their right to a union and a dignified life has been under attack for decades, most recently with the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, and we know more shutdowns will put more families through this ordeal over and over again. Our federal workers provide critical public services and deserve the ability to seek recourse when their homes and families are suffering. We must guarantee their right to strike.
End “Right to Work” for less
“Right to work” laws have been passed in many states, including Texas, as part of a decades-long attack on unions. These laws weaken the power of our unions by making union membership and dues optional for workers who benefit from union contracts. Their function is to erode the collective power of workers on the job and deprive unions of resources. We must end “Right to Work” at the federal level to ensure that bosses can’t roll back union victories by dividing us up at work.
Sectoral collective bargaining
A sectoral bargaining system with wage boards will allow us to set wages, hours, and benefits across entire industries rather than just shop by shop, raising the floor for all workers even when they are not yet represented by a union. To win such a system, we must first help massively increase union strength by reinstating a “card check” system, banning “Right to Work”, and other pro-union legislation.
Transfer control to workers
Require that half of the governing board for large corporations (over $100 million in annual revenue) be elected worker-representatives,
Establish Worker Ownership Centers to facilitate the transfer of small and medium sized businesses into worker owned cooperatives,
Guarantee a Right of First Refusal for workers at any company that goes up for sale, is closing, or being moved overseas to buy the company and provide financial assistance for them to do so,
Create Democratic Employee Ownership Funds or a publicly owned Social Wealth Fund in order to redistribute the massive profits made by corporations back to the workers.
Universal “Just Cause” employment law
In most states, including Texas, bosses can fire us at any time for any reason unless we are protected by our union. “At Will” employment laws exist to prevent workers from organizing to improve working conditions and to ensure no one stands up to a bad boss. Everyone deserves the security of knowing our livelihoods and our ability to meet our basic needs is not subject to the whims of bosses. We must ban “at will” employment and institute a new law ensuring that no one can be fired without “just cause”.
For too long, employers have gotten away with misclassifying workers as “independent contractors” to shift risks and operating costs onto workers while maintaining company control over the price, pace, and style of labor, while misclassifying other workers as “supervisors” to deny overtime pay and the right to join a union. Many workers spend years as “temporary” employees, and even if they do become permanent it is often so late in their lives that they are unable to earn retirement after decades with the same company.
This kind of misclassification is exemplified in the so-called “gig economy” where employers such as Uber make massive profits by skirting US labor laws and hiring their entire workforce as independent contractors in order to avoid the cost of wages and benefits.
In Congress, I will fight to end the ability of employers to misclassify workers so all workers can receive the pay and benefits we deserve.
National Solidarity Fund
Bosses have too much power, and workers have almost none. Workers’ biggest source of power is the ability to withdraw our labor together — to go on strike. But on top of all the laws stacked against us, for workers going on strike also means the risk of going broke.
That’s why we must create a National Solidarity Fund to pay weekly stipends to workers who are on strike or locked out. Together, we will tip the scale back in favor of workers, instead of the rich and powerful. A National Solidarity Fund would mean workers will no longer risk losing our homes or becoming unable to feed our children when we fight against bosses who create intolerable conditions at work. The fund will come from a one-cent-per-worker-hour payroll tax on employers and be administered by a board of elected union leaders.
Close the arbitration loophole in the NLRA
Workers used to have the right under the National Labor Relations Act to come together and sue our bosses when employers broke labor laws. It was a powerful tool to fight back against abuse. But in the last few years, major corporations and conservative judges have stripped away these rights when workers have tried to act collectively in court. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that companies can take away workers’ rights to sue their bosses together when their bosses break the law and violate their rights if they can hide individual arbitration agreements in the fine print of employment contracts. This Fine Print Loophole directly contradicts the worker protections in the NLRA. In Congress, I will write legislation to close this loophole and protect workers’ right to fight alongside each other to make our jobs and lives better.
Banning permanent replacement of strikers
The strongest weapon the working class has to protect ourselves and to fight for a better world is the ability to go on strike. It’s no surprise, then, that the hard-won right to strike has been under attack by corporate powers-that-be for decades. Conservative judges have allowed bosses numerous loopholes to permanently replace workers who use our right to strike. In Congress, I will fight to stop bosses from permanently replacing striking workers and give workers the fullest protections possible when we exercise our right to strike.
Permit secondary boycotts and strikes
The right to free speech, free from government punishment, is a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution. And yet, under federal law, it is against the law for unions to call for a boycott or a strike against a company, activities that are otherwise protected by the First Amendment, if the reason they are calling for it is because the company refuses to honor a picket line. I will work to do away with this double standard by pushing to repeal this law, ensuring that workers and our unions enjoy the same freedom of speech as everyone else.
Rights for domestic workers and farm workers
We must ensure that domestic workers and farm workers, who have been historically excluded from labor protections, are afforded the same rights as all workers, including the right to collectively bargain. We must pass legislation to this end such as a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and a nationwide Farm Labor Fair Labor Practices Act.
Protect immigrant workers from retaliation
Bosses will routinely threaten to use workers’ immigration status against them, up to and including calling ICE in retaliation for workers acting collectively. Employers cannot be allowed to use our cruel immigration system against workers. I will support legislation that prevents immigration officials from opening deportation proceedings or any other immigration proceedings against a worker engaged in a labor dispute. Employers who use the immigration system to retaliate against workers should face civil and potentially criminal penalties.
Strengthen penalties for bosses who break the law
The sad truth is, even where existing law is meant to protect workers, the penalty for breaking those laws is rarely more than a slap on the wrist. Bosses regularly decide that it’s worth it to break the law now and do little more than post a notice in the break room several years later. Workers need to be able to hold their bosses to account, and the repercussions for violating workers’ rights must be severe enough to meaningfully deter rich bosses. In Congress, I will push for harsher penalties for employers who violate workers’ rights, and for workers to have the right to directly sue bosses for violating our rights.
Add value to contracts in Medicare for All transition
We must make sure that workers who have fought and won good health insurance for themselves and their families hold on to the value of their victories in any transition to Medicare for All. I support Bernie Sanders’ proposal to require employers to reopen any collective bargaining agreement affected by the implementation of Medicare for All to ensure that all savings that result from single payer healthcare will be kept by the workers in the form of increased wages or other benefits. I also agree with Bernie that existing union-sponsored clinics will be integrated with a Medicare for All system, allowing continuity of service.
Good jobs, wages, benefits, and free time
We live in the wealthiest society in the history of the world, but too many of us are working multiple jobs and struggling to get by. It is time we force corporations to pay out fewer profits and use that money to pay us what we deserve. I want the good life for all of us, and we can have it if we stand together and demand it.
Labor organizers in the past won the 40 hour workweek, an end to child labor, weekends and OSHA. It’s time to fight for the next generation
Raise the wage
$7.25 an hour is not enough to get by, and every year workers fall further behind. We must raise the minimum wage to $20 by 2025 so all workers can have a decent standard of living. We must guarantee minimum-wage workers a raise every year, tied to inflation, the rate of productivity growth, or the raise Congress votes for itself — whichever is highest.
Full employment/Federal Jobs Guarantee
Everyone who is willing and able to work has the right to a decent job. I support a federal jobs guarantee as part of the Green New Deal with a wage of at least $20 per hour, a pension, health insurance, and the right to form a union. Currently, many government projects are completed by hiring a third party contractor, who then profits from the taxpayers’ dime while paying their workers poverty wages. We must cut out these middlemen and hire workers directly at a living wage. We must also increase our monetary support for those unable to work due to disability. A universal jobs guarantee will boost wages across the board by ensuring that employers are not able to use job scarcity during times of high unemployment as a race to the bottom for workers’ wages, benefits, and working conditions.
I support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Keep Our Pension Promises Act, which will prohibit reductions in pension benefits to participants in multiemployer pension plans after they were cutback in the dead of night by Congress through the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. A pension is a sacred promise that should never be broken.
Paid sick leave
No one should be forced to choose between coming to work sick and giving up a paycheck, or giving up their job. Incentivizing people to come to work sick is both cruel and a threat to public health. We must guarantee every worker three weeks of paid sick time to ensure we all have the time and dignity to heal from illness.
Paid family leave
Far too many people are forced to choose between working for a paycheck and caring for a new child or sick loved one. Spending time with family during critical moments is more important than putting profits in an employer’s pocket. The early days of life are a joyous and crucial time, and both parents should be able to spend that time caring for their new child or healing from delivering a baby. At the same time, family members should always have the right to take time off to care for each other in times of illness or death. We must guarantee paid leave as a right for every family.
More free time
Humans shouldn’t have to exist on Earth for the sole purpose of working to put profits in someone else’s pocket. We should all have more free time to spend with loved ones, develop hobbies and skills, decompress from our busy lives, and spend more time engaging with the world’s wonders. In Congress, I will work to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to shorten standard full-time employment to 32 hours a week, with the option to work a shorter 4-day workweek, guaranteeing overtime pay beyond that.
In addition, I will lead the fight to guarantee five weeks of paid vacation a year and begin working toward a demand for all workers to receive a year-long sabbatical after seven years of working under the same employer.
One job should be enough for everyone to make plenty for a decent life. In Congress, I’ll fight for workers to have the right to predictable, healthy, and fair schedules. The right to a fair workweek, combined with a higher minimum wage and stronger universal social programs like Medicare for All and a jobs guarantee, will ensure workers are always able to work good, stable jobs that can provide security and comfort for their families.
Remove the Social Security wage cap and lower the retirement age
Currently, the rich pay Social Security tax on only a fraction of their income, while working-class people pay it on their entire income. We must remove the artificial cap on the Social Security tax and apply it to all forms of income. Make the rich pay their fair share and ensure Social Security benefits remain strong for generations of seniors. Lower the age for full benefits to 62 so that workers can enjoy a longer retirement.
Support federal workers through greater job protections
I will work to establish a no-questions-asked hardship leave policy that would allow for federal employees to take paid leave in the event of future shutdowns. Federal employees are workers, not slaves—no more forcing them to work for free or under untenable conditions because of reckless politicians!
I will vote to reform the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS) to mandate the executive branch fully staff all regulatory agencies, especially the FLRA (Federal Labor Relations Authority) and the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). We must also amend the FSLMRS to allow for national grievances to be contested in federal district courts rather than through the arbitration process which puts workers at a disadvantage.
A system of justice
Too many of us feel scared and not safe when a police car passes. Over the past 30 years America has arrested and put more people in jail, even as crime rates have dropped. These arrests target people of color, specifically our black neighbors. Justice isn’t about punishment, it’s about safety and healing. It’s time we had a justice system that understands that.
It’s not a crime to be poor
No one should be jailed for being poor. No one should be forced to “pay” their fines by spending time in jail. For many of us, waiting in jail for our trial to start can mean we lose our jobs, our homes and our children all while we haven’t even been convicted of a crime. Cash bail should be abolished.
End the War on Drugs
We will legalize marijuana and make sure the people who went to jail for it are freed, have their records scrubbed, and are provided good jobs. Communities suffering from opioid addiction need support, not police to come in and arrest people. Non-violent drug offenders need rehab, not jail.
Drug addiction is a public health issue. The people who can solve the opioid crisis are social workers, clinicians, doctors and recovery specialists. We will invest in programs that truly address the problem, beginning with access to naloxone, clean needle exchange programs, and not-for-profit recovery programs.
Abolish the death penalty
Capital punishment propels a system of violence. We will abolish the federal death penalty and support organizers across the country in their state-wide abolition work. We will end solitary confinement, which is inhumane and something no human should ever have to suffer.
Demilitarize the police
The police should not be at war with the people. We will end the Department of Defense 1033 program, which allows police departments free access to military grade weapons and technology. Weapons previously received from the department of defense will be returned there.
We will end Department of Homeland Security grants to local police to purchase military weaponry, which acts as billions of dollars of direct subsidy to police and defense contractors. We can spend that money on mental health care, rehabilitation, safe housing and other projects that make our communities safer.
Remove the profit motive
Corporations should not profit from our pain. For-profit prisons give prisoners the worst care possible in order to maximize their profits and cut corners, and are not accountable to voters. No one should make money from imprisoning people and that includes pay phone operators, food suppliers, halfway houses and other companies that profit from the prison system. Just outside of our district, the T Don Hutto RC is a for-profit detention center where guards have sexually abused female asylum seekers. For-profit prisons focus on making money, not healing, and we will get rid of them.
Fund public defenders
Justice means we are all equal under the law. While some can afford expensive lawyers, most of us have to settle for public defenders, who usually are underpaid and forced to work too many cases. We all deserve a lawyer who can stand up for us.
In office, I will use every tool in my toolbox to fund more public defenders, make sure public defenders are fairly paid and have their student debt wiped out, and force cities and states to hire enough public defenders.
Restore voting rights
Police target people of color and charge them with felonies, which causes them to lose their voting rights. This has the effect of taking away the voting rights Black people fought for in the Civil Rights Movement. This is especially true in Texas and the south where Republicans do all they can to discount the votes of people of color. All felons and prisoners must have their voting rights restored. Democracy means that all people have a vote.
End Three Strikes
No one should spend their life in jail for committing small-time crimes. We will end the practice nationwide of automatically giving people life in prison for their third offense. This is a cruel law that targets people of color and it must be abolished.
Support sex workers
Laws that are meant to target sex trafficking have been abused to punish sex workers. Criminalizing sex work reduces the freedom of workers and increases their vulnerability to violence, extortion, and health risks. Sex workers are workers. We must decriminalize sex work so that workers in this industry can have fair labor practices and a life without stigma or social exclusion.
Justice for immigrants
Too often, our immigrant neighbors are scapegoats for right-wing politicians to blame for the economic struggles faced by our working class. The racist lies told by politicians like Roger Williams stoke the fire of violence against our immigrant community, leading to the mass shooting in El Paso, to separating and caging children, to deporting families back to certain death. All working people, documented or undocumented, are hurt when we are unable to come together and organize for our common interests. We refuse to be divided any longer. Our struggle is one struggle.
Decriminalize border crossings
Our immigration system is not meant to create a just pathway to citizenship for immigrants – in its current form, our immigration system delays, detains, and dehumanizes our immigrant siblings as they seek a brighter future for themselves and their families. We have created a system that is purposefully impossible to navigate. Unauthorized immigration is the inevitable consequence, and we cannot stand by as people fleeing poverty, violence, and climate change are criminalized for choosing the only option our country gave them. That’s why I support the full repeal of federal statutes that criminalize illegal entry and reentry – Section 1325 & 1326 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Title 8 of the US Code). These are the laws being relied upon by the Trump administration as legal justification for detaining and incarcerating immigrants, including families seeking asylum and presenting at the border without asylum claims.
We must fight for immigrants living in the US to be able to lead dignified lives, and that means fighting back against policies and institutions that terrorize them. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal law enforcement agency with a shocking record of civil rights violations and abuses and with little to no transparency or accountability. They separate families every day by raiding workplaces, homes, and even public spaces that should be safe for everyone, often using deceptive, reactionary, and shameful tactics. We believe it is time to abolish ICE, and we will fight to completely defund this agency.
Until ICE is abolished, tens of thousands of immigrants are still locked in cages, often for merely crossing the border or as a result of minor traffic infractions. The constant fear of deportation is a terrible weight on immigrants, scarring innocent people with trauma and forcing millions to live in daily fear for themselves and their families. We seek to build a firewall between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement so immigrants can fully and freely participate in their communities, in their workplaces, and in our shared society.
We must close all for-profit detention centers including the T. Don Hutto Detention Center. We must end collaboration between ICE and local police departments through 287(g) contracts, and we can begin by demanding more transparency around these contracts. We will end all current Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGSAs) between ICE and local municipalities in District 25 so that local jails are not compelled to house ICE detainees or provide office space to ICE in their jails. We will end the Secure Communities Program because this program violates individual privacy rights. I also pledge to fight to abolish immigration detainers by repealing Title 8, Section 287.7 of the US Code. We propose to replace ICE detention with community-based alternatives such as community-based family case management programs or nonprofit shelters.
Justice & compassion in migration
Our current immigration system is rife with punishments and disincentives that make it harder for people to enter legally or to pursue legal status. We want to broaden the legal migration options for immigrants who are not asylum seekers, such as immigrants seeking reunification with their families, parents of DACA recipients, or individuals migrating for other reasons. Dreamers with and without DACA along with their parents and TPS beneficiaries all deserve immediate access to greencards and a path to citizenship. I support ending Trump’s “metering” policy which arbitrarily limits the number of asylum seekers who may present their claims to a few per day, when we have the resources to process many many more. I support ending the 3-year-ban and the 10-year-ban, which require undocumented Americans to needlessly leave the country for years before being eligible for citizenship. I will fight for a more robust and better-funded immigration court system, ensuring all immigrants including children have the right to legal counsel and representation in immigration court, and retaining more immigration judges to clear case backlog. Finally, I will fight to ensure that climate change refugees, people fleeing domestic violence, and people fleeing gang violence may all seek asylum at our borders by increasing the scope of asylum claims to include these groups.
Migration is a human right
There are two types of immigration policies. The first viciously inflicts suffering onto people to dissuade them from coming or to pressure them to leave. We have tried this tactic for far too long and we know it is both unimaginably evil and has proven not to be effective in stopping immigration. We propose a second approach.
We must stop terrorizing valuable members of our community, and we must recognize the role our country has played in spurring immigration, by engaging in endless war, by wreaking havoc on the environment, by destabilizing economies abroad with exploitative trade deals. We also recognize that we cannot solve immigration problems without immigrants – we need their perspective, their experience, their voices, and their collaboration to get at the heart of this issue. We respect the basic dignity of immigrants as our partners in solving global problems, as our neighbors and community members, and we respect migration as a human right.
In order to strengthen this partnership with our immigrant neighbors, I will fight to pass stronger protections for immigrant workers against workplace retaliation of any kind as they organize their workplaces. Our ultimate goal is to push harder than any Congress in history for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship so immigrants can integrate into our community without holding back. I will also do everything in my power to block interventionism, to respect the sovereignty of other nations, and to fight for trade deals that create equitable outcomes for all partners.
Gun violence and freedom from fear
We should be free from fear in our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our places of worship, and our communities. With the number of mass shootings on the rise both nationally and in our own state, fear of gun violence has become a barrier to this freedom. However, guns are deeply ingrained in American culture. They have a place in the lives of many Americans, who may enjoy deer hunting or need to protect cattle herds from predators. No matter how people may personally feel about guns, there is no practical way to remove all guns from our current society, and even the best attempt would not heal the many other harms that working-class people face. But we can address the root causes of gun violence, which are deeply connected to many other issues at the core of this campaign: poverty, trauma, and corporate greed.
Take on gun manufacturers
Corporate profits should not come before the safety of our community. For too long, gun manufacturers have fought for the right to flood our streets with military grade weapons marketed as consumer goods. Because of extensive lobbying by the NRA, gun manufacturers – unique from almost any other industry – have not had to face consequences when the products they create are used to harm people. I support the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to give victims’ families another avenue for seeking justice. I also support taxing firearm industry profits, just like alcohol and tobacco sales, to fund public safety and community programs.
Voluntary federal gun buyback program
With over 300 million guns in this country, there are many people who have guns who might no longer want them, without a safe and secure way of disposing them where they can ensure that these guns will be destroyed and not fall into someone else’s hands. Voluntary gun buyback programs already exist, but many are administered by police departments and do not destroy the weapons they remove. I support a federally funded buyback program, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, that will fairly compensate those who wish to voluntarily give up their guns, and ensure that all guns given to this program are made inoperable.
Take care of our veterans
Our veterans are stuck at the intersection of guns and complex trauma, and they are suffering because of it. People sign up for the military to serve their country, but are left behind when they return from service: Veterans commit suicide at a rate 150% higher than the rest of the population, and for women, the difference is even greater. Veterans also experience homelessness at higher rates than non-veterans, and are estimated to make up 10% of the unhoused population.
Our country spends more on the military than the next seven countries combined, but this money lines the pockets of arms contractors and serves the interests of oil companies; it does nothing to protect Americans. We need to end the forever wars that are harming those in the military and creating new victims of gun violence all across the globe – from our own soldiers experiencing PTSD to the civilians killed by drone strikes.
As part of our gun violence platform, I will decrease military spending to stop us from continuing the harm abroad, and instead I will redirect money at home to identifying at-risk populations and focusing efforts to make their needs are met with counseling services, Medicare for All, and community support.
Investing in our communities
We need to make sure that everyone has a safe, thriving community and the resources they need to live a good life, free from fear. We must invest in strong social programs for violence prevention, including ceasefire mentorship programs, reentry assistance, job training programs, and violence prevention stipends. We know the community-started and community-run programs are the most effective, so we should invest in organizations that provide support to people exiting gangs, that connect marginalized communities with material support. Violence is not property damage – violence is blocking people from accessing the things we need to survive, and working class people encounter this type of violence constantly. Many children grow up in it. The trauma of unmet needs adds up and leads to gun violence, and to effectively stop gun violence we must disrupt the violence that is its source.
Because of the violence that we experience, it is hard – even scary – to turn away from reactions that are rooted in fear. As we take care of people’s needs, we also need to dismantle the fear and suspicion that has become part of our communities. For this reason, I support stopping the Department of Defense’s 1033 program and stopping police from using military weaponry in our neighborhoods. I support investing in our communities in ways that care for people’s needs, not criminalize people for being poor: having well-funded public schools, building more community centers with after-school programs and access to services, hiring more social workers, and making our streets, sidewalks and public spaces safer and more accessible.
Social workers as first responders
Two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides. One way to address these gun deaths is to ensure that our emergency services are staffed with social workers and mental health professionals who are trained in de-escalation. People need to feel safe reaching out for help when they are experiencing suicidal thoughts. Under our current system, people may fear calling 911 and being involuntarily committed, which can be a highly traumatic experience that prevents them from seeking help. People with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by police, providing additional evidence that mental health first responders are direly needed and will save lives. Further, undocumented immigrants who experience mental health crises can call 911 for help and find themselves funneled into deportation proceedings by police. We must ensure that vulnerable community members who need help with mental health issues are met with help, not incarceration or violence.
Having social workers and trained mental health professionals as first responders for domestic disputes will ensure that warning signs for escalating violence are not dismissed. Given rates of police violence are much higher when they are interacting with a person who is Black or disabled, we must consider the importance of these proposals as they relate to more marginalized communities. For these reasons, we must exchange a police response with one that brings healthcare professionals and social workers into situations where people need their help.
Disarm domestic abusers
The presence of a gun in the home can take a distressing and traumatic situation and make it lethal. People experiencing domestic abuse are five times more likely to be murdered if their abuser has access to a firearm. Preventing their partners from accessing guns will protect those trapped in abusive situations. I propose that when 911 calls are made relating to domestic violence, all firearms are temporarily removed from the home while the individuals involved are connected with counseling services.
Similar programs have shown remarkable success in lowering the rates of death by domestic violence. We need to believe survivors, and I support listening to advocacy groups when addressing this issue, because domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes and victims’ needs are often not taken seriously.
Finally, convicted domestic abusers should have their right to gun ownership permanently revoked. These measures will allow more victims of domestic abuse to live to see the day they call themselves survivors instead.
Federal subsidies for safe gun storage
We know that some people will never want to give up their guns, and many folks might have good reasons for having them. In any case, homes with guns that aren’t locked up face the constant threat of a gun falling into the wrong hands and being used fatally. We can keep families safe by making sure that gun owners can store their firearms safely, both to prevent tragic accidents and to place an obstacle in front of bad actors. I support subsidies to make sure that everyone can have a locked gun safe to keep their firearms, if they choose to have them.
Ban on sale of assault weapons & require universal background checks
Many people may own rifles for hunting, trap shooting, or to protect their livestock, but there’s no reasonable cause for automatic assault rifles to be available to the public. I support a ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to stop gun manufacturers from profiting from the sale of these guns to the general populace. Additionally, even non-automatic firearms may be used to harm people when they fall into the wrong hands. We must fight for universal background checks as a common sense gun reform to prevent people with histories of violent behavior from having legal access to guns.
An accessible society for all
Disability rights are human rights, and a community that respects individuals with disabilities is a stronger community. We collaborated with our friends who are leaders in the fight for access to society to draft a platform that identifies where disability intersects other issues and centers the right to access for all people. We are ready to bring this world into being, and that means we have to fight alongside our siblings – to demand we all have equal access to public space, to housing, to employment and fair wages, and to defend our communities against discrimination and unjust treatment in schools, workplaces, and everywhere else.
Disability Integration Act
The DIA is bi-partisan legislation introduced in the House & Senate that removes barriers to people living with disabilities so they can access their Constitutional rights. We pledge to sign on to become a sponsor of the DIA as one of our first acts in Congress.
Affordable, accessible, integrated housing
One of the greatest obstacles for people living with disabilities is the lack of housing that is affordable, built for access, and does not segregate people with disabilities into institutions but provides true integration into the community. We believe housing is a human right, and so we pledge to fight for income diverse social housing that removes the profit motive and is built to be accessible and integrated. This allows residents to age in place, rather than forcing seniors out of their long-term homes as their health needs change. This brings people of all abilities together as neighbors.
Abolish housing discrimination
Many people living with disabilities rely on Section 8 vouchers and Section 811 support to pay for their housing costs, but landlords have the legal right to discriminate against tenants based on their source of income. This is an enormous barrier to thousands of people living with disabilities in this district, and we pledge to fight to end this legal discrimination against the disabled community.
No exceptions to a living wage
People living with disabilities face legal discrimination under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers to obtain certificates allowing them to pay below minimum wage to workers with disabilities. The Department of Labor has not managed this program carefully enough to ensure that these workers received even the wages they were entitled to under the Act and to protect them from exploitative working conditions. We understand bosses will take advantage of every opportunity to pay workers less so they can rake in more profits, and so we commit to ending this legal discrimination by fighting to repeal Section 14(c).
In keeping with the Olmstead vs L.C. decision of the US Supreme Court, we uphold the right of people with disabilities to receive the care they need in the setting they choose. This means that rather than funneling people with disabilities into institutions, we will fight for more cost-effective home-based care that allows people freedom in their home. We will demand this care be fully included in Medicare for All, and we will also fight to ensure the community attendant workers providing these services have a living wage, benefits, and dignity on the job.
No more limits on special education
The state of Texas places a limit on the number of students who may receive special education services in public schools. By working with teachers unions, we will create a broad demand that no such limits may exist, so that every student can get the education they need provided by well-paid and well-resourced teachers.
We are proud of the progress our society has made in recognizing the rights of our LGBTQIA+ siblings, but we know we have a long way to go. Our neighbors in this community still face enormous obstacles––disporportionate rates of homelessness and suicide, completely legal discrimination in housing and employment, and violence that is actively promoted in many parts of our society.
But this community is also fiercely energized, and LGBTQIA+ organizers work tirelessly to build queer pride, to promote inclusion, and to demand a world in which all people can live our lives free from fear. This is a world we all have a stake in, and I am committed to standing in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people in the fight for liberation.
Real and just healthcare for all
Justice in healthcare means we all get the care we need, a right our LGBTQIA+ siblings are too often denied.
Medicare for All will guarantee healthcare to everyone living in the US through a single program, that’s free at the point of use, with comprehensive benefits that include HIV care and prevention through PrEP, hormone therapy, and gender affirmation surgery. Medicare for All require the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices for prescription drugs and will cap out of pocket cost on prescriptions to $200 per year, so that no one living with chronic illness like HIV must face financial hardship to get the drugs they need to stay healthy.
By abolishing the for-profit private insurance industry and their use of “networks,” Medicare for All will allow anyone to choose their doctor or hospital where they receive care, ensuring everyone has access to a caregiver they feel comfortable with.
I support Federal bans on “corrective” surgeries for intersex babies and conversion therapy which has been inflicted on LGBTQIA+ people in a baseless attempt to force them to be heterosexual, often as minors and without their freely given consent.
Right now, queer people are twice as likely to struggle with substance abuse and report considering suicide at twice the rate of heterosexual cisgender people; for transgender people, the incidence is over ten times as high––41 percent of transgender adults say they have attempted suicide. I will fight to ensure Medicare for All fully covers comprehensive mental healthcare to guarantee everyone the care they need.
The right to transition
Right now, trans folks who begin a gender transition face an incredible number of obstacles––paying for hormones, harassment & violence, possible firing from their jobs in retaliation for being who they are. In Texas it costs around $50 to change your last name on your driver’s license, but around $300 to change your first name. Gender expression is a fundamental right. I will fight for national legislation that creates parity between changing first and last names and allows for gender identifications beyond male and female on all official federal and state documentation, including birth certificates and driver’s licenses.
An end to discrimination
I support the Equality Act: to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes.”
Even after the Equality Act is passed, we know that bosses will unfortunately still attempt to find ways to discriminate against queer people for more vague reasons, like not “fitting in with the culture of the workplace.” That’s why I will go further to fight for universal “Just Cause” protections to ban all “at-will” employment and ensure no one can be fired for discriminatory reasons.
I will fight discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people by police, banks, healthcare professionals, and in housing. Our LGBTQIA+ siblings here in Texas can also be denied housing based on their identity, putting LGBTQIA+ tenants in a more vulnerable position relative to landlords. We will put an end to this discrimination with the Equality Act, fighting for ‘Just Cause’ eviction laws, and supporting tenant organizing. I will also fight for an end to the use of the “gay/trans panic defense” which has been used in courts to excuse the murder or assault of LGBTQIA+ people by virtue of the perpetrator’s discomfort with or around people of different sexual orientations or gender identities.
Keeping children safe
Every year, children wait in foster care waiting to be adopted while countless LGBTQIA+ people ready to welcome children into their homes are denied the opportunity to adopt. In Congress, I will work to pass the Every Child Deserves A Family Act to prohibit adoption facilities from legally discriminating against LGBTQIA+ people. We must also ensure that children of all identities grow up in communities that support and value them by ensuring all public schools implement positive fact-based LGBTQIA+ sex education curriculum. This curriculum establishes for young people that they deserve to be recognized no matter who they are, and research shows it also results in fewer teenage pregnancies, lower rates of STD transmission, and lower rates of suicide among youth.
For too long, the Washington foreign policy establishment—unelected “analysts,” “experts,” “elites,” and bureaucrats––have controlled how our country and our people relate to the rest of the world, to disastrous effects like neverending war, terrorism, international instability, mass inequality, pollution and environmental injustice.
We’re going to need a foreign policy based around international solidarity rather than competition, nationalism and endless war to solve some of humanity’s most pressing crises on a global scale––climate change, food and water security, public health, and poverty. The United States must be building power with the global working class, not power over.
Reduce the military budget, close the bases
Trump’s military budget of 2019 was an unprecedented $686.1 billion. Today, the United States currently operates an obscene number of military bases in dozens of countries around the world––totalling nearly 800. The Pentagon operates its own personal slush fund called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), costing taxpayers $1 trillion. Much of this money goes right into the pockets of the military industrial complex and war profiteers, rather than keeping us safe.
We can drastically reduce our wasteful military spending, close the vast majority of US bases abroad, and still keep Americans safe. The money we spend on war and aggression should be used for domestic programs––like guaranteeing every American housing, healthcare, and free education from childcare to college––and foreign aid that reinforces stability for working class families abroad.
End western imperialism
The United States must get out of the business of regime change and supporting coups abroad for economic and geopolitical gain. We must have a foriegn policy that seeks to avoid military conflict at all costs.
In Congress, I will fight to end the Saudi-led war in Yemen, to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement and normalize our relationship with Iran, and to negotiate a new treaty to replace the Paris Climate Accord which goes further in mandating the global cooperation necessary for defeating climate change.
Sanctions and economic blockades are a form of economic warfare on the international working class by the United States. Today, one third of the world’s population live under sanctions regimes that cause economic recessions, mass unemployment, food and medicine shortages, and international instability. We must stop the abuse of embargoes and sanctions to punish countries for refusing to prioritize US and capitalist interests.
A democratic foreign policy for all
We must end undemocratic foreign policy decisions made unilaterally by the executive branch, the CIA, the National Security Council, and Washington think tanks.
Congress must reassert its Constitutional authority over foreign policy and warmaking. Our elected representatives should make foreign policy decisions––no one person should have the power to plunge the world into war.
In Congress, I will encourage working class organizations like unions to create foreign policy and form international relationships that build the power of the global working class across borders. I will also propose Federally-funded cultural exchange programs to enable more people in the US and abroad to travel and create an understanding of our shared humanity.
We must give full political rights and representation to the four million people living in US territories, including Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. Congress must also extend full citizenship rights to the people of American Samoa.
US Foreign Policy affects people far beyond the US borders, and we need to factor considerations of what they need into our foreign policy process.
Israel & Palestine
Palestinians currently live under conditions analogous to Black Americans under Jim Crow––they deserve better. I support an end to all US aid to Israel until the occupation of Palestinian territory is ended. We call for the removal of illegal settlements in the West Bank, an end to the blockade of Gaza, freedom of movement for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, and that Palestinians living in Israel are guaranteed full rights under the law. I oppose any laws that attack our First Amendment rights to criticize Israel or participate in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The US must work together with the UN and the international community, not unilaterally, to negotiate a lasting peace in the region built on justice and self determination.
Since Texas ceased to be a Mexican territory, US/Mexico relations have been defined by US imperial control of Mexico. The United States has treated Mexico as a junior economic partner, fueling a drug war, creating a heavily militarized border, and undermining the Mexican working class for our own economic gain.
We must equalize the relationship between the United States and Mexico and ensure that it is built on true transnational solidarity among the Mexican and US working class, not trade deals that boost the profits of corporations and the rich at the expense of workers.
We must stop funding the drug war, demilitarize our southern border, and improve the process of sending remittances to Mexico and Latin America by ensuring they are tax-free and not for profit.
A Renewal of Higher Education
The purpose of higher education is to allow us as individuals to contribute our skills and abilities to society as effectively as possible. In this sense, college and vocational schools are crucial to the collective welfare of everyone in the United States and should be treated as a public good. We demand an end to college tuition and the abolition of student loan debt, and we commit to the establishment of public trade schools throughout the country that will create a school-to-union pipeline, building the workforce necessary to rebuild America’s infrastructure with a Green New Deal.
Beyond tuition, the American university system is rife with challenges. From pervasive sexual harassment and assault on campuses to rampant underpayment of student and adjunct university staff, the institutions of higher learning in this country are in dire need of structural change. We commit to not just making college and trade schools accessible to all, but to making them safe, inclusive, and run by workers who are respected and well-paid.
Free tuition, abolish student debt
We support the College for All Act which will eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs. We also support cancelling every dollar of student loan debt. We will pay for both of these proposals with a Wall Street speculation tax.
In addition, because many Historically Black Colleges & Universities will continue to have fees and tuition after the passage of the College for All Act, we will work to find alternative ways to lower costs at these schools with additional federal funding. We commit to ensuring that HBCUs continue to play the crucial role of carrying Black students to graduation day.
A school-to-union pipeline
College should not be the only path to a decent life. Many young people are made to feel inadequate for falling short of a university career, but in reality we need workers to do a variety of jobs for society to function, and all of those jobs should be dignified and respected. We want to invest in pathways outside the college context for people to find and prepare for work, both to strengthen the American workforce and to mobilize the workers that will be needed to repair our country’s crumbling infrastructure with a Green New Deal. To do this, we want to create stronger networks between unions with apprenticeship programs, vocational and trade schools, and high schools, establishing a pipeline sending students into union jobs with high pay and safe working conditions. This will increase union density and better prepare our nation’s youth for life after high school without leaving behind young people who do not want to go to college.
Demanding safety for students
Colleges and universities take great pride in bringing diverse groups of students together, but too often our institutions fail these students by bringing them into campus environments that are hostile to their identities. We demand all colleges establish an Office of Inclusion & Diversity which will seek to improve the experiences of students by building bridges between students of different communities. We demand all colleges provide free on-campus counseling in addition to other healthcare services as part of Medicare for All. We will fight against “free speech” policies that permit violent hate speech to be tacitly endorsed by and spread on college campuses, as free speech does not include speech that promotes violence.
Fighting sexual harassment on campus
Even after expansion under the Obama administration, Title IX has been ineffective in giving too many survivors of campus assaults the tools they need to seek and achieve justice. As we have seen in District 25, perpetrators of sexual harassment may be found guilty of misconduct and still retain teaching positions at universities as occurred at the University of Texas. We know too that colleges and universities are deliberately undercounting the number of campus rapes, as recently took place at Texas State University just outside our district.
We pledge to fight for federally-mandated processes that consistently handle campus rapes so that survivors are treated with dignity. We demand independent investigations conducted by experienced professionals, immediate access to a hospital advocate for survivors, and mandated counseling for those accused of misconduct. With Medicare for All we will win free access to healthcare including counseling and rape kits for survivors of assault. We will also create federal standards for who may be permitted to teach at public colleges barring anyone found guilty of sexual misconduct from teaching at the undergraduate or graduate level.
University divestment from extraction, exploitation, and war
University endowments are money donated to universities that is invested and used to finance university programming and scholarships – and unfortunately, much of that money is invested in unethical corporations that profit from climate change and human suffering. With a Green New Deal, we will end the fossil fuel industry, but in the meantime we believe colleges and universities must move to divest from fossil fuel industries as well as for-profit prisons, military contractors, and arms manufacturers. We support student-led movements that fight for divestment, and we pledge to fight this fight in Congress by organizing behind student divestment campaigns and advocating for federal legislation barring universities and colleges from investing in extractive, exploitative, or war-oriented industries.
Rights and wages for college workers
Right now, adjunct and student faculty at universities across the country are being underpaid or not paid at all. If you attended a college or university, you were almost certainly taught by students who received no wages for their work instructing courses or labs, grading papers, tutoring, or performing administrative duties.
In Congress, we will fight to reverse the Trump National Labor Relations Board ruling that graduate workers at private institutions are not workers and are thus ineligible for union membership. We support the creation of unions for all workers at every institution of higher learning to bargain for higher wages and better working conditions. Our colleges cannot run on unpaid labor.
Renewing Student Government
Student Governments exist at universities across the country. The current systems frequently fall short of the promise of institutions intended to prepare young leaders for civic engagement in democracy, instead often mirroring the dysfunctions of American democracy. We want to reinvigorate Student Government by demanding elected student leaders have a place on the boards of universities to give them real decision-making input. We want to give elected student leaders a framework and training to organize the student body, preparing them to think of politics in terms of organizing a base around demands. We also want to establish more mentorship programs within Student Government to address the lack of continuity arising from transient student bodies, programs which would be tasked with addressing discrepancies between the student body and the representation of that body in Student Government.
A Commitment to Public Education
Our education system is one of the most resilient public institutions the United States has ever created. Public schools provide a model for what our society can achieve – free access to a necessary resource built through everyone pooling together, establishing education as a public good which is not for profit and not for sale.
But public schools are under attack. The rich want to take this public good and turn it into something they can own and profit off of, destroying schools as centers of community and democracy for the benefit of the wealthy. We can reinvest in public schools to address these problems and stake out an even bolder vision for what public schools can become.
End the war on public schools
Public schools are being attacked by the rich, who are trying to remake our education system with charter schools and other privatized models. I support the NAACP’s moratorium on using public funds to open new charter schools, and I support a ban on all for-profit charter schools. The education of our children should not be an investment vehicle for the wealthy. We must address the inequities between charter schools and public schools with mandates that the same oversight requirements should apply to all schools. I will also fight to ensure that charter school boards are at least 50% composed of teachers and parents rather than rich investors.
We must invest more deeply in our public schools. I commit to tripling Title I funding so that struggling schools have the funding to improve and so that all students can access a quality education no matter their zipcode. I also support funding arts, language, and music education programs because the working class deserves creative exploration and the valuable skills these fields impart. I will fight to establish a per-pupil spending floor, and I will push Congress to explore other funding models less reliant on property taxes to address the inequities in our schools based on the income of the surrounding areas.
Follow the leadership of teachers
We have seen in the last several years an astonishing movement of teachers going on strike to make demands and win gains for their students and their communities. And we have seen that where the leadership of organized teachers is followed, public schools thrive. Teachers are closer than anyone else to the issues at the heart of public schools, and they know better than any Washington consultant or charter school CEO what must be done to fix these problems.
The greatest investment we can make into public schools is an investment directly into the wages of teachers. I will fight to establish an annual pay floor of $60,000 for every single teacher in the US. I will advocate to bring teachers and teachers’ unions into the curriculum design process so that teachers have a hand in creating the lessons they teach.
In particular, I will fight to end the ridiculous overreliance on standardized testing in public schools. The preparation for these tests consumes at least a month each school year and does not result in learning gains. There is a difference between calculator tricks that artificially inflate scores and real teaching work that prepares students to be problem solvers and to navigate the world as citizens in a democracy. Our schools are not “businesses in a competitive market” – they are centers of community where our children can learn and grow. I commit to advocating for a teacher-driven curriculum that ends the overreliance on standardized testing. I will also fight to end programs like “Teacher Excellence Initiative” which have proliferated in Dallas and tie teacher salaries to students’ performance on tests.
Public schools as community centers
I pledge to expand funding to $5 billion every year for summer and after-school programs, tutoring, and teen centers. This funding will create community schools that are sustainable and provide material support for the well-being of students and their families.
Schools free of discrimination & segregation
The US education system has an ugly legacy of racism and exclusion, and it is our responsibility to acknowledge and address that history. The Strength in Diversity Act should be expanded with additional federal funding for community-driven strategies for desegregation. I pledge to fight for additional funding for bussing & school transportation to facilitate integration, and to end the prohibitions against bussing currently in place. I commit to execution and enforcement of existing desegregation orders and to the appointment of federal judges who share that commitment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I will also fight to end funding penalties for schools that try to desegregate.
But other types of discrimination also plague our school system. I commit to expanding access to English as a Second Language instruction for children who grew up in households speaking other languages. I will also expand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) so that at least half of special education funding is provided by the federal government. I pledge to fight for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act which will protect LGBTQIA+ students’ rights. I am committed to the enforcement of Title IX to defend students against harassment, discrimination, and violence in all educational institutions. Finally, we must dismantle the school-to-prison and school-to-deportation pipelines – I will fight to get police and ICE agents out of our schools to keep our children safe from harassment and surveillance regardless of race or immigration status.
Democratic control of our schools
The single most important way we can bring democracy to our public schools is by strengthening the democractic voices of teachers in their workplaces. I will fight to ban “Right to Work” at the Federal level, to extend collective bargaining rights to all public sector workers at the Federal level, and to win universal “Just Cause” employment laws protecting workers against wrongful firings. I also support unionization efforts in charter schools so long as they exist, as all workers deserve fair wages and decent working conditions and charter schools should be brought to the negotiating table to ensure these demands are met.
We should also ensure that every state has a democratically elected Superintendent of Public Education, and I will work to effect this demand. In Texas, the Governor-appointed TEA commissioner is granted broad autonomy and can effectively replace an ISD’s school board with a hand-picked Board of Managers. In nearly all of these takeovers, the school district is majority-POC. I will work to end the ability of states to usurp democratically elected school boards through such mechanisms.
I also pledge to ban mandated partnerships with private operators at the Federal level. In Texas, SB1882 has mandated such partnerships for any school district having even a single campus that has been rated “improvement required” for 5 years. These partnerships undermine our governance of public schools, as school boards are required to.