As a graduate of Ashburton Elementary, Tilden Intermediate, and Walter Johnson High School (1994), I understand the value of our first-class education system. As a current parent at Wood Acres Elementary, I also understand the challenges facing our schools today.
Ariana's Education Priorities:
Funding for School Construction
Our school system is one of the top in the nation, but our school infrastructure is strained by the increasing enrollment. If we want to maintain our top spot in education, we must invest more money in school construction and expansion. I proudly worked with the Montgomery County delegation to try to secure funding for school construction and will continue to fight to bring more of tax dollars back to Montgomery County.
Maryland law required insurance companies to cover the costs of physical, speech, and occupational therapies, but many of those who qualified were not being covered. In 2012, I passed legislation to increase access to insurance coverage for these necessary therapies and co-chaired on the Workgroup on Access to Habilitative Services. During the 2014 legislative session, I passed legislation from the recommendations of this workgroup to provide parents with Parents’ Guide to Habilitative Services. For my work on behalf of special needs kids, I am proud to have received the Pat on the Back award from Pathfinders for Autism.
Expand Access to Preschool & Childcare
Parents know that high quality early learning programs are critical for school readiness. We must move towards universal pre-K. The upfront cost of expanding voluntary Pre-K in accordance with Maryland's Pre-K for All Business Plan would be saved many times over in other educational and social costs. I also support expanding access to quality, affordable childcare and afterschool programs for working families, and was proud to lead the effort to eliminate Maryland's waitlist for subsidized child care program.
Protect Education Funding
As our state faces tough budget choices, it is essential that we do everything in our power to protect education funding from the ups and downs of the business cycle. Stability is critical to ensuring that all Marylanders have access to the opportunities they deserve, no matter when they happen to start kindergarten, graduate from high school, or go to college. Indeed, it is in this post-recession period that the needs are highest. Household finances are strained, and laid off workers need retraining for the economy of the future.
Maintaining education funding is not just the best social policy, but also the best fiscal policy. If our tax revenues are to keep up with our needs, we must continue to attract and retain high-income professionals and keep property values stable or rising. Deep cuts to education will tip us into a vicious cycle in which deteriorating schools lead to declining property values and out-migration of high-income taxpayers, which leads to further declines in revenue and more cuts. This is what happened to California after Proposition 13 led to devastating declines in relative school funding levels. Would California be in its current crisis if it still had the best schools in the country?
Advocate for Parents and Teachers
As a current MCPS parent and District 16 Delegate, I advocate for parents, students, and teachers and work to keep our schools the best in the nation, and getting even better.