Education, Workforce Training, and Apprenticeships

There is nothing more essential for our future success – as individuals, as families, as a state, and as a nation – than investing in quality education for every child, no matter their zip code. Senator Van Hollen believes that we must do everything we can to keep the doors to opportunity open for all of our children, and that charge is more urgent now than ever before. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated foundational gaps ingrained in our education system at all levels – from sky-high child care and early education costs to chronic underfunding of K-12 schools to a widening digital divide and more. Those gaps must be tackled head-on. 

Senator Van Hollen successfully fought to include essential resources within the American Rescue Plan to combat the digital divide and open our schools back up as quickly and as safely as possible. But it isn’t enough for us to return to the pre-pandemic status quo: we must redouble our efforts to build a better and stronger education system – one in which the doors to opportunity are opened wide for all.

That effort starts by ensuring our children benefit from a stable and sturdy educational foundation. Senator Van Hollen is proud to support early childhood education programs, Head Start, universal pre-K, and resources to help families afford child care. He is also fighting in Congress to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order to support low-income students and students with disabilities. By fully funding both programs, federal support to Maryland for Title I and IDEA would double, closing the more than $700 million yearly funding gap for our state’s schools. He has also introduced legislation to strengthen community schools that provide a well-rounded curriculum and wrap-around services from health care to nutrition for children and families.

Senator Van Hollen also believes that every high school graduate should have a range of affordable options to pursue their ambitions and careers. He supports debt-free college, affordable student loans, an expansion of the Pell Grant, and more flexible educational opportunities like community college. Senator Van Hollen knows that a college degree isn’t the only pathway to success, and he remains committed to increasing our nation’s focus on industry certifications, apprenticeships, and lifelong retraining in order to create more opportunities for good-paying jobs for Marylanders. The Senator has also worked to provide Americans who are struggling to find jobs with robust support and training – so they can get back on their feet and into the workforce. 

Taken together, these priorities – from expanding early childhood education to building out job training programs – establish a roadmap that has guided Senator Van Hollen since he first entered public service. Recently, the Senator has pushed this fight forward through additional efforts to pass expanded resources for universal early childhood education, free preschool, and Head Start. That initiative has accompanied Senator Van Hollen’s work to secure funding that will cut the cost of child care for working families and boost pay for child care workers. He is also partnering with colleagues to provide major investments to Maryland’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and peer institutions across the country – including funding to sharpen research capacity so faculty, staff, and students at our HBCUs have the tools they need to lead innovation and discovery. That pursuit is one piece of Senator Van Hollen’s broader commitment to strengthening education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and broadening participation in these fields.

What’s more, the infrastructure modernization law that Senator Van Hollen helped pass through Congress will generate millions of good-paying jobs and open up new pathways to employment for Marylanders of all backgrounds who have taken on an apprenticeship, received certification to work in a particular industry or trade, or graduated with a higher degree. And by building out our nation’s high-speed internet system, the infrastructure modernization law will help close the digital divide so more students can get online to access and complete their coursework – and do so in an affordable way.

Through these efforts and others, Senator Van Hollen continues to tackle the challenges facing our schools and our students, and he will continue fighting to achieve the goal of equal opportunity for every Marylander and every American.