Education is the number one indicator of individual success and is vital to our national and economic security. Education is a valuable resource that we need to invest in now to bolster our economic future. We need to invest in our public schools to make them better and more competitive. The U.S. ranks in the middle to the lower portion of industrialized nations in terms of educational performance. As the leading nation in the world on so many other issues, this is unacceptable.
We must continue to invest in early childhood education to build the foundation for our children and their education. Early childhood education offers the best opportunity to close achievement gaps and is a major differentiator between advantaged and disadvantaged students. I support programs like Head Start and The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – as long as they are funded and supported appropriately.
Additionally, our schools’ infrastructures are crumbling. Older communities have buildings that can’t meet today’s needs and, in some cases, have deferred maintenance for decades. Meanwhile, our newer communities are struggling to meet the demand for classroom space. We can create jobs and improve our educational institutions by investing in the budget-neutral FAST (Fix America’s Schools Today) program to repair and modernize our public schools.
I strongly support the expansion of Pell Grants. My family and I could not afford the full cost of college tuition and Pell Grants were the reason I was able to go to college. As the cost of higher education continues to rise, financial aid will become increasingly important to ensuring we do not create a disparity of opportunity between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
Our school system needs to reflect the diversity of our nation. Vouchers, opportunity scholarships, and tax credits focusing on private schools ultimately undermine long-term public school improvement by diverting resources for short-term benefit. They also leave behind many students who do not have access to the vouchers.
The federal government can and must provide resources and support to the public education system in this country. I support accountability in the classroom and the federal government’s role in establishing guidelines, but believe control needs to remain at the local level.