Buttigieg education plan would triple Title I funding, spend $700 billion on child care, pre-K

Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Saturday released plan to improve K-12 and early childhood education that calls for a tripling of federal Title I funding and for spending $700 billion on universal full-day child care and pre-K for all children.

The Democratic presidential candidate’s plan also calls for ensuring that the teaching profession reflects the nation’s diversity and that teachers are paid more.

“Too often, access to education is predicted by income or zip code,” said Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who wrapped up his 14th campaign visit to New Hampshire on Friday.

“And success can be determined before a child even sets foot in a classroom. Every child in America should have access to high-quality education, and we need to support our nation’s teachers for the work they do within and outside the classroom. If we honored our teachers a little more like soldiers and paid them a little more like doctors, this country would be a better place.”

The Buttigieg campaign cited statistics compiled by the nonprofit New Hampshire Association for the Education of Young Children that show child care for a Granite State infant costs about $12,000 a year and that about 40 percent of the state’s working families do not have access to licensed child care.

His plan would ensure that families do not pay for than 7 percent of their incomes for early learning and that families earning below-median income pay no more than 3 percent of their incomes. Families below the poverty line would receive free, fully subsidized care.

Citing data from the U.S. Department of Education, Buttigieg’s plan says that 156 New Hampshire school districts receive Title I funding. Tripling funding nationally for Title I, the largest federal education assistance program, will result in a “truly equitable public education system, no matter a child’s zip code, race, or background,” the Buttigieg campaign says.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Title I funding totaled $15.7 billion in 2018.

Buttigieg would also expand mental health services in schools to address teen and young adult suicides. In New Hampshire, there were reportedly 38 such suicides in New Hampshire in 2017, which is about 50 percent higher than the national average.

Buttigieg would establish a federal “Education Access Corps” to better prepare future teachers, ban for-profit charger schools while requiring increased accountability for public charter schools, support teachers’ unions and expand outside-of-the-classroom K-12 and summer learning opportunities, including in art, sports and STEM.

He noted that raising teachers’ pay and “empowering” teachers is personal for him because his husband, Chasten, is a junior high school teacher.

“When we get this right, our kids will start kindergarten ready to succeed,” Buttigieg says in his plan. “They will have greater access to educational opportunities, including those outside a traditional classroom.

“We will trust teachers and their expertise, and our system will nurture students’ curiosity, creativity, and ingenuity. By the time they graduate, our students will be prepared to go to college if they choose and will be equipped with the skills to start careers in well-paying jobs that fit our changing economy.”