I am a product of and a strong supporter of public education. The long-term economic impact of a well-educated and prepared society is immeasurable, but improving education is complex and nuanced.
All public school students, pre-K through grade 12, need the best in technology, including high-speed internet and safe environments in which to learn. Many school buildings in our district are in need of repair. Some have no internet service or even running water! That’s an outrage.
We need safe schools, resources for students from pre-K through 12th grade, and better-paid teachers. Smaller class sizes and improved opportunities for those with learning differences are also essential. If we are serious about having an educated workforce and electorate, then community colleges and trades schools should be taxpayer funded. This means not diverting taxpayer dollars to private institutions.
Preparing the next generations for leadership—be it in public or private life—should not be done on the cheap. This experiment of choking off our schools in order to make them better must end. I am convinced that if we fund these things like we mean it, our country will be on much stronger footing, both intellectually and economically.
A bit of patience will be required before these changes bear fruit, certainly beyond the next election cycle. We as politicians need to muster the political will to sacrifice the here and now for a better tomorrow. The Greeks, who founded our modern education system, had a proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Let us plant those trees now!
To support public education, we need to:
- Reduce class sizes and assure that ALL classrooms are equipped with the tools necessary to promote learning.
- Provide opportunities for those with different learning styles.
- Abandon voucher systems that direct public dollars to private schools.
- Fund low-cost/free technical colleges will have a long-term positive impact on our communities.
- Increase funding for public education at all levels.
- Address the funding and debt issues related to higher education.
- Explore effective ways to deliver effective ongoing training via online systems.
- Explore, with employers, alternative credentialing systems for continuing education.
- Crack down on for-profit schools that take millions in federal financial aid and saddle students with debt rather than educating them.