Colleges and Universities

Complete Overhaul of Higher Education

I worked as an adjunct English professor lat the University of North Florida for over 5 years. Colleges now more than ever rely on “adjunct” professors to teach classes because they are so easily exploitable. I was paid less than half what a brand new full-time non-tenure professor with the same qualifications earned, with full positions being rare still extremely underpaid. I also had no benefits, no union representation, no path to full-time employment, and no job security between semesters. After I because politically active, my now-former boss told me to "go teach political science" and hired a different adjunct to abuse. I now have no desire to go back there.

Students, however, pay the same tuition regardless of whether their professor is an adjunct. Therefore, why do colleges keep raising the cost of tuition? That's simple. Administrators have inflated their own salaries and hired more overpaid bureaucrats. In essence, both public and private colleges are acting far like large corporations. Much of the budget also goes to luxury amenities on campus like opulent dorms and sports programs with highly paid coaches.

Federal and state governments, meanwhile, cutting public college/university budgets to give tax breaks to billionaires. However, large corporate interests like the Koch brothers contribute much to universities; this is why administrations will prioritize funding for business schools that teaching the lie of trick-down economics.

It may sound like I have a personal vendetta. Well, I do, but I also wholeheartedly want what's best for students.

I plan to introduce legislation to audit how public colleges and universities are spending their money, with public funds going to professors, programs, and materials, not inflated salaries and amenitites. Students need professors with time and energy to pass on their expertise, not adjuncts who need multiple jobs to just to pay off their own student loans.

Student Debt

The crisis of student loan debt is no secret. America also has a student debt crisis. Student loans are the only debt that cannot be discharged when declaring bankruptcy. The government even garnishes Social Security income to pay off student loans since they take so long to pay off, in part because the interest rates are much higher than what banks pay when borrowing money from the government, for some reason. In fact, the government makes a big profit on student loans.

I will support Democratic efforts to make colleges and universities free or low cost for all qualifying students. Funding will come from ending ridiculous tax-breaks for billionaires and adding a miniscule tax for Wall Street speculation and stock transfers above a certain amount, which are currently untaxed sources exclusive to the wealthy.

As for existing student loans, I plan to work with Democrats to find a way to lower interest rates, and, if possible, discharge a high percentage of that debt. I'm sure that ending billionaire tax breaks would help with this.

More Public Trade School Programs

As much as I support vast improvements to colleges and universities, one fact remains: Not every student needs to go to college.

So-called "blue collar" professions like welding, construction, maintenance, warehousing, shipping, firefighting, are sanitation are extremely important to a functioning society. They simply don't deserve the bad reputation that too many people give them.

That's why I will work to increase funding for public trade school programs, either through existing colleges and school districts or new institutions.

Stop De-Funding the Arts

Art is an essential part of the human experience. To an extent, it's what makes humans into humans. Furthermore, artistic skills are useful and huge variety of professions, especially in today's online economy. Art and music help with learning and remembering other subjects, like language arts, social studies, and even math and science.

Republicans may consider STEM and business as the only profitable fields for their donors, but that is far from true. It's also ironic considering that so many Republicans don't even believe in science like the truth of climate change.

Therefore, I oppose all further cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and arts education programs. In fact, I will work for an increase in funding.

I also support preserving America’s national parks and museums to allow students to experience what they are studying firsthand. These are valuable learning tools and records of American history.

Holding For-Profit Colleges Accountable

So many for-profit colleges, like Trump University, are scams that cheat students out of their money with the promise of better employment. However, the educations from these schools are too often subpar compared to public and other non-profit colleges. The degrees often amount to little more than the paper they are printed on. This should be against the law, but it's not. I plan to address it.