Building a 21st Century Education System
Education holds the key to America’s future success. For our country to continue to succeed economically, it is imperative that we continue to out-innovate our global competitors. But we can only out-innovate the rest of the world tomorrow, if we out-educate them today. In this 21st century global economy, our education system must prepare American workers to compete not only at home, but also across the globe. Achieving these substantive reforms will require a comprehensive, bi-partisan approach that invests in our children and provides them the tools they need to succeed.
Early Childhood Education:
Although studies show that nearly 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5, very little of our education dollars go towards their development during that age. The data clearly shows that early childhood education is the key to success for students. If students do not start school “kindergarten ready,” the chances of them reading on grade level, graduating high school, and attending college drops significantly.
Expand Early Childhood Education in our Community: As the Founding Chair of Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, I have seen the powerful impact that early childhood education has on our community. We need to expand funding so that every child has the opportunity to take advantage of quality early childhood education.
No Cuts to Head Start: Head Start provides educational, health, and nutrition to low income children across our community. I will never support cuts in funding to this critical program that helps feed and educate our most vulnerable children.
Once the top country in the world in K-12 education, America has lost significant ground in recent years. According to the Organization for Economic and Co-operative development, the U.S. now ranks 14th in the world in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math. Furthermore, we rank 26th in high school graduation rates. This is a national disgrace, and a trend that must be reversed.
Increase Teacher Pay: If we expect our teachers to produce the brightest, most creative students in the world, then we need to pay them a fair salary. The recession and budget cuts have hit teachers hard. In Virginia teachers are paid $7,083 below the national average which ranks Virginia 31st in the nation in teacher pay. We trust our children’s future to these individuals and they deserve better.
Stop Defunding our Schools: Virginia ranks 35th in the nation in state per-pupil funding, despite the fact that Virginia ranks 7th in per-capita income. I’ll fight to make sure that Virginia gets its fair share, and I’ll advocate to our state lawmakers to stop shortchanging our schools.
Protect Title I Funding: Title I funding is used in some of our country’s most disadvantaged populations to help those children achieve academic standards. I will fight to ensure that we are not cutting funding from this critical program.
No Child Left Behind: While the intention of NCLB was laudable, there were many unintended consequences. We need to end this top down, one size fits all program, so that our teachers no longer have to teach to a test and can use their creative skills to find better ways to teach our children to compete globally. We also need to make sure that our schools are teaching critical thinking, communications, and financial literacy.
Race to the Top: The Race to the Top program is a way for states to gain additional federal funding to raise student achievement standards. Virginia should not have opted out of this funding solely for political reasons. Race to the Top isn’t about politics, it’s about our children. I’ll fight to make sure we stop playing politics and start doing everything we can to increase funding that improves our school systems.
Higher Education & Workforce Training:
For America to develop the workforce it will need to continue to compete globally, we must find a way to make college more accessible and affordable for those students who choose to attend a two- or four-year college. We must also provide comprehensive vocational and workforce training programs in our high schools and beyond.
Expand Workforce Training in our High Schools and Beyond:
I’ll work with local communities to expand vocational and workforce training programs in our high schools and beyond so that students who choose not to attend college still have access to exciting and rewarding career paths.
Making College More Affordable:
Over the last decade, we have seen state support for colleges and universities plummet. As a result, we have seen tuition prices skyrocket by 259% at our public universities. On top of that, in the last year, college loan debt has surpassed consumer credit card debt. We need additional state funding for our colleges, and we need to ensure that programs like Pell Grants and Stafford Student Loans are fully funded.
Improving Graduation Rates:
The United States ranks 13th in the world in college graduation rates. Graduating more students at a quicker pace is good for our economy and good for our students. Working hand in hand with educators, we must find a way to increase our overall and on time college graduation rates, thereby providing more open seats and more financial aid money for additional students.
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Building a 21st Century Education System Education holds the key to America’s future success. For our country to continue to succeed economically, it is imperative that we continue to out-innovate our global competitors. But we can only out-in… Read more
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