Mary Gay Scanlon has been fighting for children’s access to quality public education for decades. As President of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board, a public education advocate, the parent of public school students, and the founder of a career development program for students in the Philadelphia public schools, Mary Gay has firsthand knowledge of the issues and has worked on solutions to the problems in our public education system. We need to support innovation and excellence in public education, while protecting it from attempts by Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration to undermine or dismantle it.
Mary Gay is an expert in education law and policy. As an attorney at the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, Mary Gay led class action lawsuits on the behalf of students with disabilities and was appointed to two statewide commissions to improve the delivery of special ed services. She represented children and testified before the Pennsylvania legislature about the harms and risks of zero tolerance policies in public schools. In Congress, Mary Gay will introduce and support policies including, but not limited to:
Only half of 4-year olds are currently enrolled in pre-school, and less than one fourth have access to publicly-funded pre-K programs. Research clearly shows that early childhood education is vital to a child’s development. As a congresswoman, Mary Gay will sponsor legislation to support universal preschool programs.
Student Loan Reform and Debt Relief
Student loan debt is undermining our economy and shortchanging graduates. More than 43 million Americans are saddled with $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. We must lower student loan interest rates, reinstate measures to crack down on predatory lending and debt collection that the Trump administration has undermined, and provide relief to graduates with crippling debt. Some student loans should be forgiven, and others refinanced at the lowest interest rate possible. The government and banks should not make enormous profits from student debt.
Removing Barriers to Higher Education
Upward mobility almost always requires post-high school education. We must invest in technical and university education to strengthen the American workforce. In addition to student loan reform, Mary Gay supports tuition free community college for all students and legislation providing tuition free public university education for students living in households with annual income below $150,000.
Leveling the Playing Field
It is too easy for vulnerable students to slip through the cracks. We must expand IDEA and Title I funding and enforcement to help level the playing field and allow all students to succeed. The special education mandates created by the IDEA 40 years ago cannot be implemented without full funding by the federal government.
Stronger federal funding is particularly important in Pennsylvania, where chronic underfunding of public schools by the state, and reliance on property taxes, has created gross inequality between rich and poor public school districts, depriving our classroom teachers and most vulnerable students of vital resources they need to succeed. Mary Gay will oppose attempts to divert public funds to private schools and will introduce legislation to improve federal education funding and enforcement.