U.S. Representative Colin Allred Discusses COVID-19, Lowering College Costs
This is part of an ongoing discussion with the candidates running for Texas-32. We published our discussion with Genevieve Collins last week.
U.S. Representative Colin Allred is running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is representing the Democratic Party in the general election on November 3.
Allred was elected to the U.S. House on November 6, 2018, and his term ends on January 3, 2021.
Allred said that increasing COVID-19 testing is the key to beating the pandemic. He believes that testing people once a week in busy areas is the first step to making the virus disappear.
“We can’t just wait and hope for a vaccine to save us,” Allred said. “We can catch cases quickly enough to dramatically expand our contact tracing ability to do what other countries like South Korea have done. When they do have an outbreak, they immediately know or very quickly thereafter know everyone who is exposed.”
Allred said that Americans have not had enough leaders who tell the truth about how harmful the virus is. He mentioned that the country needs to be more aggressive when it comes to beating the virus.
“We have to be much more serious about this virus,” Allred said. “If there is a positive case that’s identified, we need really aggressive contact tracing to ensure that we prevent a breakout from being a serious issue before it becomes one.”
Increasing Access to Technology
Allred noted that technology is critical to education. He cited that over one-third of Dallas families don’t have a reliable Internet connection. But having a working device matters too.
“We need to make sure this is not a lost year,” Allred said. “The devices are incredibly important, and having a device that can allow you to learn, and one that’s not falling apart.”
Allred talked about how the pandemic is forcing schools to account for new costs that students and families are incurring because of online schooling. Child care, having a quality device, and having a strong Internet connection are all new problems that must be addressed.
“We have to ensure that our students who are the most economically vulnerable, that we provide them with the resources they need, so that they’re still going to have the same or as close to the same experience as the rest of the student body,” Allred said. “I’m very concerned that we don’t increase the attainment gap because of things that are beyond the control of our students while they’re trying to better themselves and investing in education.”
Allred believes that the government needs to address some of these gaps to make sure that students get their tuition money’s worth.
Making College More Affordable
Allred’s plan for making college more affordable includes making technical school or community college as debt-free as possible.
“For folks who think a four-year degree is maybe not the right path for them, we need to make the technical schools and community colleges available to them as debt-free as possible,” Allred said.
Another component of his plan includes increasing the Pell Grant Program. He said that he wants to assist low-income students by increasing their chances to receive grants that they do not have to pay back.
“It’s a much better investment for us, as a community and as a society, to invest in those young people,” Allred said. “The cost of higher education is out of control. We have got to address the cost of it, and also address the fact that so many folks who are already in school, or recently graduated, are crippled by an enormous amount of student loan debt.”
Allred said that Americans should consider supporting presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan of making public universities and colleges tuition-free for families with an income below $125,000.
“Joe Biden has a very interesting plan for students and families that have less than $125,000 in income to be able to attend public universities debt-free,” Allred said. “I think that’s something we should consider. The cost of higher education is out of control.”
Allred is running against Genevieve Collins (Republican), Christy Mowrey (Libertarian), and Jason Sigmon (Independent) to represent Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.
This story was co-written by Connor Pittman and Kate McLeod.