Priorities

Education is Worth the Fight

Teachers

My sister worked in the NYC public school system for many years. I myself am a product of that system. Through my experiences, I learned how important teachers are to a child’s life. Anyone with a teacher who positively impacts their life when they are young is still benefiting from that experience to this day. Through my sister’s experiences, I learned how difficult it can be to be an impactful teacher without the support you need. 

We need to commit fully to supporting our teachers.

COVID-19

Now more than ever, we cannot afford to compromise the quality of education. We have to consider that not all students have access to computers, the internet, or even homes. For some, the school is a safe-haven and a place where tangible and intangible needs are met. There are some students who do not have a place that is comfortable to study in.

We need to start finding creative solutions to the dilemmas that COVID-19 has presented.

More on COVID-19

Educational Opportunities for All

While studying education law and policy both in law school and in graduate school, I was afforded the opportunity to work in public school systems around the country. I saw first hand that the words ‘education’ and ‘opportunity’ do not mean the same thing for all students. There are widespread achievement gaps among minority and economically disadvantaged students, many of whom attend under-resourced schools.

Congress needs to continue to address these inequalities and provide both resources and support to help students in need.

WE NEED NEW TEXTBOOKS: Racial History of America

When I was in elementary school, I learned about slavery for one week. In high school, I learned about it for a day. This should not be the case for children today in the public school system, but for many students, it is. There is a rich, strong African-American history in this country, one that was forged in spite of a painful and ever-present past of oppression and enslavement. Both need to be learned so that realities of the present do not become the realities of the future.

We need to update our textbooks to reflect the true racial history of America. We NEED our curricula to reflect the importance of this topic.

Higher Education

College should be affordable, but it often isn’t. Many students are faced with the choice of taking out loans that can last a lifetime. On October 15, 2019, the College Affordability Act was introduced to Congress, a, “comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that would lower the cost of college for students and families, increase the quality of higher education, and expand opportunity for students of all backgrounds to succeed in college.”

This is a start, but these initiatives must be coupled with efforts to broaden the scope of loan forgiveness programs, create a more fluid FAFSA process, and make more colleges and universities tuition free for lower-income individuals.

Systemic Racism and Inequality

Congress needs to fight racism and inequality by acting instead of reacting.

Systemic inequality and racism are sewn into the very fabric of America’s foundation and touch every aspect of our society, from education to criminal justice. Recent events in our country have prompted us to take a closer look at a long-established institution: the police force. Congress recently introduced the Justice in Policing Act as a reaction to police brutality and racial bias to, “…establish a bold, transformative vision of policing in America.” This “bold” step by Congress is a reaction to a terrible tragedy, but preemptive action is necessary if we are going to win this battle. Now is the time to take a closer look at how to help black children who are suspended and expelled three times more often than white students for committing similar infractions, children in poverty who are more likely to be uninsured, “essential” workers struggling to get by on minimum wage, immigrants who feel they have no rights, and many more. We need legislation geared towards eradicating the effects of institutional racism and inequality, we need community programs geared towards not just reconciliation, but educating the public as well, and we absolutely need a representative who will push Congress to act before tragedy strikes, not after. Now is the time to forget politics, and focus on people.

As the NY-11 congressional representative, my priority will be winning the battles that have continually been lost because no one thought to fight them.

Healthcare

Healthcare Should Protect the Interest of the People

I come from a family dedicated to serving our community in healthcare. In 2008, my parents founded a Staten Island-based nonprofit organization committed to providing support and rehabilitation services to people with developmental disabilities and drug and alcohol addiction. I have seen firsthand the importance of access to healthcare, as well as the positive impact that community support can have. On Staten Island, there are so many families struggling due to the Opioid Crisis. Many families in our district are faced with uncertainty regarding access to healthcare as well as rehabilitative solutions. I am committed to supporting community-based prevention and treatment programs, and making sure healthcare is accessible for all. We need a healthcare system that serves the people and treats healthcare as a human right.

The Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction, but we need to continue to protect the interests of the people.

Criminal Justice Reform

The low-income population & people of color are disproportionately affected by our current system.

I believe that justice should be served for wrongdoing, but until we fix the injustice in our system, the true aim of justice will not be realized. America incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world, and the poor and people of color are disproportionately affected by this. In many ways, wealth, not fault, shape outcomes. There are also biases that persist in the system driven by the idea that Black & Brown people are inherently dangerous and culpable. There is a dire need for reform at every level of the criminal justice system, from adjudication and sentencing to policing and prosecution.

The First Step Act, an act aimed at reducing the size of the federal prison population while maintaining mechanisms for public safety, was signed into law in 2018. It was a critical step towards reform, but more work needs to be done.

The realization of justice means confronting biases, supporting rehabilitative programs, and working to eliminate the school to prison pipeline.

Protecting the Environment

Our world is dying, and we need drastic changes in big and small ways.

Our world is dying, and we need drastic changes in big and small ways. The risks of not taking action are numerous, with rising sea levels, species’ extinction, and water shortages at our doorstep. Climate change can also be connected to health, food security, and economic growth, with impoverished communities and populations at the highest risk.  There are solid programs in place for overcoming barriers to renewable energy use and collecting and waste, but we as a district need to band together as a community to make sure we are doing our part individually. That means biking or walking, shopping virtually, keeping track of trash, donating excess food to your local food bank, even eating leftovers. In Congress, I will support legislation that is geared towards reducing our current coal consumption by one-third, and economic programs for farms to meet climate goals. For the past two years, I lived in a country that ranks #3 in the world in recycling, while America does not even appear on that list. When I get to DC, I will work towards making America a country with a clean energy standard.

Let’s clean up now, so our children won’t have to.

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