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Transforming Education for a Brighter Future

ARE YOU READY FOR A TRANSFORMATION IN EDUCATION?

In this campaign, we dare to dream big for education, the cornerstone of a prosperous and advancing society. For far too long, politicians have made grand promises without making the necessary investments in education. While politicians talk, educators get the job done.

It is time we put an end to our tax dollars being a blank check for corporations and instead redirect those funds towards investing in our future.

Our mission is to empower individuals to drive innovation, catalyze economic growth, and cultivate social progress. Education is not simply a personal asset, it is the bedrock upon which communities flourish. It shapes the future by preparing today's learners to tackle tomorrow's challenges head-on.

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Improving access to childcare and early education is the start of any education plan. The field of childhood brain science reveals that crucial cognitive, health, and socio-emotional development takes place long before the age of 5-- kids are learning all the time. Active participation in nurturing and developmentally-appropriate early care programs yields substantial short-term and long-term benefits.

From an economic standpoint, the current lack of affordable, high-quality early care and education options pose a significant challenge for families. This gap leaves parents with limited choices, forcing them to make difficult decisions such as sacrificing further education or job training, or even causing one parent to exit the workforce entirely.

In Congress, I will champion extensive investments in child care and early education.

  • The Child Care Stabilization Act: The nation is currently facing a dire child care crisis, which I hear about firsthand from parents on a daily basis. The expiration of critical COVID-era funding has thrown the sector back into turmoil. Without further financial support, more than 70,000 child care programs are at risk of closing their doors, affecting the lives of 3.2 million children and 232,000 workers. To address this pressing issue, I would support the proposed Child Care Stabilization Act to allocate $16 billion annually for five years to sustain the Grant Program. This funding will ensure the continuity of high-quality child care services for working families, providing them with the support they need.

  • Pass Universal Pre-K: Universal pre-kindergarten is big investment with an even bigger return. A strong basis for lifelong learning-- we must offer early education to all children. I am committed to championing a comprehensive and inclusive plan--no lotteries, no first-come-first-serve, no convoluted processes to access this vital opportunity.

"I proudly support Atif Qarni, my friend and colleague. We must prioritize developing a childcare system that supports working families. As Secretary of Education, Atif worked with leaders to make these crucial investments, recognizing their long-term impact."

- Dr. Myra Sawyers

FEEDING KIDS

Providing free school meals to all children is a vital initiative with incredible benefits. Unfortunately, I have personally witnessed and experienced the detrimental effects of learning while hungry. Alleviating hunger enhances academic performance and improves school attendance. It ensures children's well-being by providing necessary nutrition for physical and cognitive development. Moreover, it aids concentration, academic achievement, and promotes social equality by eliminating stigma and providing economic relief to parents.

School meals educate children about healthy eating habits, fostering a healthier lifestyle. During times of instability, like economic downturns or natural disasters, these meals become even more crucial. Sharing diverse meal options brings students of different backgrounds together, creating unity and understanding.

In Congress, I will champion a national school lunch programs.

  • The Universal School Meals Program Act of 2023: is a vital legislation aimed at permanently eradicating child hunger in schools. It proposes the provision of free meals to all students, regardless of their income, and the elimination of school meal debt. The bill focuses on strengthening local economies by promoting local food procurement, thereby supporting small businesses across Northern Virginia. By passing this act, we can eliminate the stigma associated with free meal programs. This Act represents a comprehensive and concerted effort to address food insecurity among children and promote their overall health and academic success.

"Secretary Qarni established a task force to address school nutrition and partnerships with local businesses to provide better-quality meals. Students can't learn on an empty stomach."

Harris Mahedavi, School Board member, Loudoun County Public Schools

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Special education is vital in our comprehensive education system, advocating for children with disabilities or learning challenges. It nurtures their growth and ensures equal access to a supportive learning environment. By investing in special education we can breaks barriers, celebrate individual learning styles, and create an inclusive educational landscape. By addressing unique needs, special education empowers students and our communities to reach their full potential. Let's embrace its power and unlock endless possibilities.

In Congress, I will champion FULL funding of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The federal government promised to cover 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education-- that promise has been broken over and over again. The current funding stands at less than 13 percent. The Congressional Research Service reports a nationwide IDEA shortfall of $23.92 billion for the 2021-2022 school year. The IDEA Full Funding Act aims to address this by requiring regular and mandatory increases in IDEA spending, fulfilling our obligation to America's children and schools.

"There is no doubt that he will lead the charge in championing for full funding of IDEA, ensuring that every child receives the quality education they deserve.”

Justin Wilk, School Board member and parent, Prince William County Public Schools

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MENTAL HEALTH

As we gain awareness of mental health challenges and solutions, it's crucial for schools to provide holistic mental health services and support. These services are vital for students' overall well-being and development. By offering early identification and support for mental health issues, school-based services play a critical role in addressing the increasing prevalence of stress and anxiety among children and adolescents.

School-based mental health programs create a safe environment for students to seek help, reducing stigma. Ultimately, integrating mental health services in schools builds a healthier and more resilient future generation.

In Congress, I will champion a consistent investment in and study of improving mental health in our nation.

  • The Mental Health Services for Students Act: This act allocates $300 million to improve mental health services in public schools nationwide. By partnering with local mental health professionals, like the experts in Northern Virginia, the bill aims to establish on-site services for students, expanding the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s Project AWARE. This legislation highlights the urgent need for accessible mental health care and recognizes the high number of untreated cases. It also addresses the rising incidence of adolescent suicide and declining youth mental health. However, the Act is just the beginning, as it provides funding to explore interventions that can enhance and deliver higher quality services.

"The pandemic affected everyone's mental health, particularly adolescents. Atif in Congress will champion a comprehensive mental health excellence package, including grants to strengthen mental health services at schools."

-Rachel Kirkland, Former School Board Member and Parent, Manassas Park City

POST K-12 AFFORDABILITY

Resolving education debt is crucial for improving our economy. Student loans, personal debt, and soaring education costs often hinder graduates from pursuing careers, buying homes, or investing in their futures, creating long-term economic burdens. By addressing this issue, we can alleviate financial stress and pave the way for alternative paths like trade schools or apprenticeships, bridging skill gaps in the workforce. Promoting these less burdensome options diversifies and strengthens the labor market, contributing to a balanced and skilled economy. Addressing education debt enhances workforce diversity and boosts the nation's economic health.

In Congress, I will champion reducing and eliminating the costs to pursuing post K-12 education.

  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris: The Biden-Harris Administration has made significant progress in workforce development through the American Rescue Plan. Notable initiatives include the infrastructure Talent Pipeline Challenge, which cultivates a diverse and skilled workforce for rebuilding our infrastructure. Investment was made in pre-apprenticeship programs, diversifying the talent pool and ensuring individuals from all backgrounds receive proper training, support, and high-paying union jobs. These historic investments have reduced the financial burden of career advancement and skills-based education, yielding tremendous returns. Sustaining and building upon this model is the future of getting work done.

  • The College Affordability Act: aims to enhance higher education quality and affordability for students and families. Through reinvestment, it seeks to lower costs, expand opportunities, and provide tailored support to diverse students. The Act holds schools accountable for student success and is a significant $400 billion investment over 10 years in the future of education.

  • Cancel Student Loan Debt: To cancel student loan debt, a comprehensive legislative approach is needed, alongside policies that address the root causes of high college costs and accessibility. This would involve congressional approval for large-scale debt forgiveness, ensuring the process is legally sound and equitable. Additionally, it's crucial to implement systemic educational reforms, including increasing funding for public colleges and promoting alternatives like trade schools and apprenticeships, to prevent future unsustainable debt accumulation.

"We need a teacher in Congress with a proven track record to advocate for increased education spending and fair salaries for our teachers."

Babur Lateef, School Board chair, Prince William County Public Schools.

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“Educators need Atif Qarni in Washington to advocate on our behalf. Investing in teacher training through Title 2 funds can help schools improve the overall quality of education as well as creating a highly trained workforce better equipped to meet the diverse needs of our students.”

Lisa Zargarpur

School Board member, Prince William County

Teacher, fairfax county

BUILDING TEACHERS UP

Educators play a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation, necessitating continuous professional development to stay updated on evolving pedagogical techniques and technologies. By investing in their growth, we ensure that teachers are equipped to meet the diverse needs of students and adapt to changing educational landscapes. Elevating the status of the teaching profession attracts talented individuals, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation in education.

We must take a holistic approach to education professionals, encompassing not only teachers but also counselors, administrators, support staff, para-educators, and more. Running a school requires collective effort.

Ultimately, we must invest in higher pay and address shortages.

In Congress, I will bring the voice of an educator to Congress and work to advance the craft.

  • Increasing Title II funding: is crucial as it serves as the primary federal resource for supporting the Effective Instruction State Grant Program. This program plays a vital role in providing professional learning opportunities for educators and leaders across schools, districts, and states. Authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title II aims to ensure that all students have equitable access to effective educators.

  • The American Teacher Act: addresses the critical teacher shortage by proposing minimum teacher salaries of $60,000 and additional cost of living adjustments. This bill recognizes the urgent need to enhance teacher compensation as a means to value and retain educators, ensuring quality education access. By establishing a nationwide standard for teacher pay, the American Teacher Act would be a starting point to solidify the teaching profession and tackle the alarming turnover rates and shortages in the education sector. This legislation marks a significant step towards acknowledging and resolving the long-standing undervaluation of educators in the United States.

  • Advocating for Educators in Government: Let's be honest about the ongoing challenges faced by teachers and public education in the face of unwarranted attacks from certain right-wing politicians. Their approach revolves around cutting funds, assigning blame, and prioritizing corporate interests. Unfortunately, their lack of understanding about the importance of public education has negative consequences. Even "moderate" and "swing district" politicians tend to dismiss investments in public education as unattainable or waste time with ineffective measures, like implementing snitch lines. Instead, we should acknowledge that it is teachers, students and parents who truly make a difference and improve education.

    As a teacher, student, and parent myself, I am committed to bringing a real-world perspective and voice to the table. It is vital that our concerns are heard and that we prevent politicians from undermining the important work we do.

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"Mr. Qarni, my daughter's favorite teacher, was awarded Dale City Teacher of the Year. His students and colleagues nominated him for this prestigious honor. Known for his kindness and dedication, Mr. Qarni made a significant impact as Secretary of Education.

He successfully secured the largest increase in state-based financial aid for college students."

Monique Raulston

parent of a former student

Prince William County

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“Mr. Qarni was one of my favorite teachers because he inspired me to excel in school and be the best version of myself. He really cares about his students.

Mr. Qarni has a vision and an education plan that demonstrates a deep understanding of the challenges students and educators face. Mr. Qarni is the education candidate– he knows these issues better than anyone in the state, and we need an educator's perspective in Congress badly.”

Micayla Laws

former student

Prince William County

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