March 16, 2022

Congressman Joe Neguse Unveils “Opportunity for All” Education Agenda to Support a Fair Shot for All Colorado Students Pre-K through College

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse unveiled his “Opportunity for All” Education Agenda to support a fair shot for all students pre-k through college and advance upward mobility for Coloradans. The “Opportunity for All” Agenda was developed from countless conversations with students, teachers, parents, child care workers, schools board members and universities across the 2nd Congressional District to address the challenges faced by Coloradans and ensure every student is offered equal opportunity to succeed. The plan would lower child care costs and enact universal preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds, ensuring every child has access to high-quality early education; address teacher attrition and underfunded special education programs at K-12 schools, and help every college student obtain a college degree that best prepares them for the future. As the father of a three-year-old, Congressman Neguse has seen firsthand the impacts of high-quality early childhood in his own daughter’s life and as a former CU Regent, the Congressman brings years of experience working to make college more affordable and accessible to his work in Congress and to the development of this agenda. 

“As a father and a former CU regent, our work to ensure every student has the opportunity to thrive has always been personal,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I grew up attending Colorado public schools, and now as my wife and I send our daughter to the same, I want to ensure that every student in our district is set up with the tools necessary to succeed. Investing in the education of our young people must begin at an early age, by lowering child care costs and supporting high-quality affordable preschool opportunities, and it must run through college as we work to ensure that every student can obtain the degree that makes sense for their future without being burdened by crushing debt.”

Neguse continued, “During my first year in Congress, I had the opportunity to hold a town hall with a gym full of 7th graders at Cache La Poudre Middle School in Larimer County, where student after student asked me about my plans to equip our special education programs, support students and teachers and cultivate a brighter future. Their passion and their attention is what drives me as we unveil the “Opportunity for All” Agenda and as we work to ensure that every American family can access a high-quality education for their children.”

“These proposals are carefully designed to close opportunity gaps that would otherwise hold back students at different points along their educational journey,” said Kevin Welner, Director of the National Education Policy Center. 

“In the time of an unprecedented educator shortage, Rep. Neguse recognizes the need for us to do everything we can to attract and retain high quality educators,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association. “He understands that the foundation of our democracy lies in our public schools and that educators and students, no matter where they live, what their abilities are or how much their parents make deserve to have all the resources they need to set them up for future success in life.”

“Families in our community are currently spending up to 40% of their annual income on child care costs, and as a result, thousands of families are unable to afford quality care,” said Christina Taylor, CEO at Early Childhood Council of Larimer County. “Given what we know about the importance of the first five years of life for a child's health and well-being, I am so grateful to Congressman Neguse for continuing to be a champion in this space. It is long past time that we fund early education in this country as a public good.”

“As a new mom, finding adequate and affordable childcare for my infant has been nearly impossible. I'm spending half my paycheck on childcare rather than saving for college or future educational expenses,” said Nicole Hensel, a Colorado parent. “Our children are our future: Childcare costs impact how or if people decide to expand their families and it shouldn't be an economic burden. We should be investing in our future.”

“Front Range Community College is excited and encouraged to see Congressman Neguse’s education plan,” said Front Range Community College President Andrew Dorsey. “We have seen firsthand how innovations like reverse transfer and open educational resources can make a huge difference for students. We look forward to working with the Congressman to continue to improve access to higher education.”

“Education should be accessible to everyone,” said Medora Huseby, Professor at Colorado State University. “College is expensive. Student debt is increasing. A straightforward solution is to use open educational resources (OER). CSU has saved over $100,000.00 since 2017-simply by using high quality free of charge materials-and that is with just one instructor in a few classes.”

“Congressman Neguse believes in improving our education system.  Even as a candidate, he formed an educational advisory committee and his tireless efforts in the house reflect these values,” said Frank Reeves, Superintendent, East Grand School District. “His 3-pronged approach will make a positive impact on ALL children, pre-school through college.  Making Pre-School more affordable and accessible is not only good for our youngest students, it is imperative for our economy.  When adults can’t work because they have to stay home with their children, our economy is impacted.  Increasing the number of prospective teachers will help to fill the numerous unfilled positions that many districts have right now.  Making college more accessible and affordable for all will also have a positive impact on our school system and our economy. I believe this plan will also begin to bring back the respect for education that has been lost in recent years which will lead to more adults seeing education as a viable profession.”

Learn more about the plan here. 

Neguse’s “Opportunity for All” Agenda includes three-prongs: 

  • Lowering Child Care Costs: 
    • Neguse has championed proposals in Congress to cut child care costs to ensure no family pays more than 7% of their income for care and to enact universal preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds. Both proposals recently passed the House through the Build Back Better Act and would ensure every parent has an opportunity to provide high-quality early childhood education for their children. 
  • Investing in Teachers and Students: 
    • Neguse recently unveiled the Teachers Are Leaders Act to expand leadership opportunities for K-12 teachers and address high teacher attrition rates, promoting educational opportunity in the classroom;  
    • Neguse has long championed a proposal to provide full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to succeed, and schools and teachers are provided adequate special education funding to equip every student. He recently secured a funding increase for the program and is continuing to work to see the program fully funded. 
  • Making it Easier to Get a College Degree for Less: 
    • Neguse’s Affordable College Textbooks Act would expand access to open education resources and increase funding for the innovative pilot program that allows college students to access class material for free online. 
    • Neguse’s Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act works to make the transfer process easier for community college students, allowing more young people to earn an associate degree for credit already completed. 
    • Neguse’s Advancing Competency Based Education Act will help college students earn a degree in less time for a lower cost, expanding higher education opportunities to students with non-traditional college paths. 

Before being elected to Congress, Congressman Neguse served a six-year term on the CU Board of Regents, including two-years as Chair of the Audit Committee. As a Regent, Congressman Neguse fought to make higher education more affordable and accessible and to build consensus on tough issues, sponsoring several resolutions that received bipartisan and unanimous support, including efforts to lower student health insurance costs and make voter registration more accessible to students, as well as working to increase wages for the University’s lowest-paid workers.