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Strengthen Education for our Children and Prepare Them for the Jobs of Tomorrow

Public education is my passion, and it is also the key to rebuilding our communities and our economy. While I was raising my family, I was an active community volunteer in education and the arts. I saw firsthand the impact that budget cuts have on our children, and I know the value of small class sizes and well-funded schools. I remain dedicated to fostering a strong public education system from pre-kindergarten through college. As a state legislator, I passed important education legislation, including:

  • A mandate relief bill that removed unnecessary mandates on schools to free up more time for teachers to teach, and less time on paperwork.
  • Legislation to encourage more educators to work in low-income schools by allowing qualified middle school educators to receive a greater amount of loan forgiveness through an existing federal program.
  • Legislation to reduce the number of times that students need to retake standardized tests.

Action: Strengthen K-12 Education

To ensure a strong public education system, we must significantly reform federal education policy under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Assessments need to be meaningful for teachers and students, and the results should be used to help, rather than punish, teachers and schools.

Fund education. Funding education must be our top priority. Our children’s educational future is quite simply their economic future and ours. Education is not a budget item that can be cut when times are tough: now is the time when improving our schools, community colleges and universities is critical to economic recovery.

End high-stakes testing and punitive labeling. Educators, more than anyone else, know that students learn in different ways. Overemphasis on standardized testing has led to an increased focus on teaching students to pass tests and too little time for creative, critical thinking.

Assure meaningful assessments and evaluations. We need high standards and meaningful assessments so that educators can identify where and how students need to improve. We must support our teachers with mentoring and constructive evaluations centered on advancing professional development. These assessments and evaluations should be developed with input from educators.

Action: Prepare the Workforce of Tomorrow

Link universities and community colleges to business. We must work with our universities, community colleges, and businesses to create systems that can link job-seekers with the education they need to qualify for high-demand jobs. As a state legislator, I worked on legislation that connects job seekers to training and certification they need to qualify for jobs in sectors such as healthcare and welding, as well as in new sectors like wind power and other clean-technologies.

Going forward, our education system needs to evolve along with the economy so that our students are always prepared for the opportunities in the job market.