Congresswoman Speier believes that every student deserves the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, from early childhood to higher education, regardless of income or zip code. She is committed to expanding access to early childhood education, strengthening our public schools, and solving our college affordability crisis.
A long-time advocate for Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Congresswoman Speier recognizes that access to early learning opportunities helps children succeed later in life. Unfortunately, child care is increasingly out-of-reach for many families in California’s 14th District. In California, the average annual cost for full-time center-based infant care is $16,542, and child care workers are paid poverty-level wages, earning an average income of just $28,630. Congresswoman Speier is a proud cosponsor of H.R. 1364, the Child Care for Working Families Act to double the number of children eligible for child care assistance and significantly increase Head Start and pre-school funding. Speier also supports H.R. 1560, the American Family Act, to expand the Child Tax Credit, create a new Young Child Tax Credit for children under six, and make both credits fully refundable.
Congresswoman Speier also knows that a successful public education system is fundamental to a strong nation. She vigorously opposes attempts to divert resources from our public schools, including school vouchers, which would allow taxpayer dollars to support institutions that are not subject to state or federal education or nondiscrimination standards.
As a mother, Congresswoman Speier understands that college affordability is a critical issue for families across the nation. She believes that one of Congress’ primary duties is to ensure that our education system allows all Americans to succeed in the 21st century labor market. She is horrified that students and graduates are forced to give up their dreams as they struggle against a system that leaves them with crippling debt or insurmountable barriers to education. As such, she supports increasing funding for Pell Grants, student loan reforms to reduce the crushing debt on American families, and strict regulations on for-profit colleges to protect students, veterans, and taxpayers from predatory practices that provide inferior educational opportunities at sky-high costs. She authored the Military and Veterans Protection Act, which would protect servicemembers and veteran students from being exploited by for-profit colleges.
One of Congresswoman Speier’s key legislative priorities is ensuring that students can learn and grow in an environment free from sexual violence and discrimination. One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted on college campuses. Approximately 56 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys in grades 7-12 are sexually harassed in any given year. Any progress is increasingly threatened by the Trump Administration’s Education Department which is more preoccupied with protecting perpetrators than their victims. Secretary DeVos has released a proposed rule that will make it harder to hold perpetrators responsible and will make schools and college campuses more dangerous. For example, under the proposed changes schools can avoid addressing a sexual assault that occurred off-campus and victims can be cross-examined in proceedings by the perpetrator’s advisor of choice. To protect against Secretary DeVos’ Title IX rollbacks, Congresswoman Speier introduced the Title IX Protection Act, which codifies Obama-era policies that helped keep students safe.
To proactively prevent sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable, Congresswoman Speier authored H.R. 3381, the HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act, which increases penalties for violating the Clery Act, allows the Department of Education to issue penalties for noncompliance with Title IX, and creates a private right of action for students harmed by schools that fail to meet safety requirements. Congresswoman Speier also introduced H.R. 5328, the Federal Funding Accountability for Sexual Harassers Act, groundbreaking legislation to increase transparency and accountability around the use of taxpayer funds to support research professors with a history of sexual violence and sex discrimination. She will continue to work in Congress to ensure that no student will be forced to put up with subpar education opportunities, crushing loans, discrimination or sexual misconduct in order to realize their dreams.