The Trump Department of Education under Betsy Devos wants to spend $250 million dollars on school vouchers. Two new studies cited by Time magazine in June say voucher programs do not improve student performance on standardized tests. Leslie supports strong public education and will fight any initiative that strips funding from public schools. She does not support diverting funds for vouchers. In some Charlottesville charter schools, the teacher turnover is 1.4 years and there is little oversight.
Too many 5th district schools are so strapped for funds that they have closed programs for gifted students. They are nervous about losing Medicaid for special needs children. (A cut to Medicaid would mean massive costs to local government.) Their teachers are so underpaid that one educator in Charlottesville recently cited a case of a colleague who has quit to work as a baby sitter because it was more lucrative. Leslie has met with teachers in Bedford County and Franklin who are barely getting by. Teacher pay must be addressed if schools are to improve. Also, the tyranny of testing since the Bush years is killing innovation in the classroom. These policies should be reviewed at the Congressional level. Otherwise, great programs like the Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration in Rocky Mount, where students are exposed to fields like aviation, forensics, architecture and engineering will wither and die.
Leslie supports strong pre-K programs and wants to expand pre-K education. Every $1 spent on pre-K saves $7-8 dollars in future intervention.
She is a strong supporter of free community college for all Virginians. She will work hard to change the rules on student loans that are turning students, parents and grandparents, into debt slaves. Leslie will fight to reverse the bankruptcy laws inserted into legislation by bank lobbyists, forcing people, in many cases, to takes these debts to the grave. She will fight to reduce interest rates for all student loans.