Joe understands the power of public education to transform a child’s life, help adults retool for the new economy and generate an equitable economy.

As the son of teachers, the husband of a community college instructor and former community college educator himself, Joe believes public schools are a core national value and the fact that the average college student graduates with over $35,000 of debt means higher education is out of financial reach for far too many students today. As a former Senior Budget Analyst for the Seattle Public Schools and ten year member of the Washington State Legislature’s education policy committees in both the House and Senate, Joe has consistently fought for and expanded equitable educational opportunities for our K-12, vocational and higher education systems and will continue this important work in Congress.


Joe has delivered

✔ Prime sponsored and passed legislation in 2004 allowing high school students the opportunity to pass alternative tests to meet state standardized testing.

✔ Prime sponsored and passed legislation expanding school breakfast programs across Washington state.

✔ Sponsored and passed King County’s Best Starts for Kids levy, which is the most comprehensive approach to early child development and community support in the nation supporting children and their families from prenatal support through their teenage years.


The plan for Congress

K-12 Education

✘ Fully fund Title 1 and IDEA, proven federal assistance programs that target our nation’s most vulnerable children and have historically been underfunded at 60% of the original federal promise and suffered a sustained cut since the sequestration budget passed in 2013.

  • The data tells us what we need to know – providing direct funding to schools and educators serving the poorest and most challenging communities has a tangible, trackable impact on improving education outcomes for those children.

✘ Double federal funding for Head Start.

    • Investing in early childhood education is one of the highest returns we can achieve. Doubling our current spending on Head Start to provide comprehensive and full day services to children of low income families will be integral and transformative for a generation of children ready to lead our country once given a chance from the very beginning of their lives.
Higher Education

“Higher education is out of reach for too many Americans, predominantly people of color and immigrants, and preventing these valuable members of our communities, young and old, from accessing our institutions of higher learning due simply to financial obstacles perpetuates the economic inequality that has come to define our economy. Higher education without debt will unleash the creative power of hard working Americans and build an economy that works for everyone.” – Joe McDermott, 2016

✘ Make Community Colleges free now by implementing President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal, and work towards debt free public colleges and universities.

✘ Allow students to refinance student loans when rates become more favorable just like a home mortgage.

✘ Allow for student loan forgiveness if a student chooses a career in public service.

✘ Fully fund and expand Pell Grants to be available year-round so students can work towards graduation at a pace that works for them.