As a proud product of public schools, Celeste believes that world-class public education must be available to all regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity or family income. Studies show investment in education leads to higher employment, reduced dependence on public assistance programs, and greater tax revenue as well as reduction of crime, improved public health, and greater political and civic engagement.
Arkansas currently ranks 47th in the nation and is failing many of our children by not offering equal opportunity for a world-class public education. Teachers within our state have one of the lowest starting salaries in the nation. The racial and income disparity in our schools is evident: there are no A-rated Arkansas schools with majority black or low-income students.
Celeste also knows it’s best practice to offer universal pre-K and afterschool programs so kids are getting the support they need to succeed academically, socially, physically and emotionally. These programs also create jobs in local communities for childcare workers, teachers, coaches.
Celeste supports federal education reforms, including:
Federal protection for teachers to guarantee fair pay, reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs for classroom and teaching supplies, and federally-mandated maximum class sizes to ensure appropriate teacher-to-student ratios
Federal-state-local partnerships to create funding mechanisms for public education that don’t rely exclusively on property taxes - every child is entitled to quality public education no matter the zip code in which they live
Universal public pre-K and afterschool care through 6th grade
Full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, because every child learns differently and deserves an equal opportunity for educational success
Elimination of punitive standardized tests that don’t actually measure academic achievement and punish schools and teachers unfairly
Ending the school-to-prison pipeline by ensuring all kids have access to quality education that meets their needs; ban corporal punishment; limit law enforcement intervention in school-based discipline; and give schools more counselors, social workers, and nurses - prioritizing whole child mental, social, and emotional wellbeing
Ensuring a well-rounded curriculum valuing science, technology, engineering, art, math (STEAM), civics, and community service, rooted in the principle of cultural representation and respect
Providing federal funding for robust ESL programs for students and immediate family members
Prioritizing the needs of public schools and ensuring accountability and standards for charter and magnet schools that utilize taxpayer dollars
Making 2-year community college and vocational school free of charge so everyone can get the education and training they need to succeed
Making 4-year college more affordable by: requiring states to properly fund public colleges and universities; limiting annual tuition increases; requiring transparency about the debt burden, job placement, and starting salaries of graduates by school and degree program; federal loan forgiveness for graduates who go into jobs that benefit the public good and traditionally underserved communities; and, allowing college graduates to refinance and consolidate their student loans as their financial circumstances and interest rates change