Where a child is born should have no bearing on the quality of education and opportunities that child will have. Our children are our future, but too often we are failing them. Here’s what I believe:
Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
But today a child’s zip code, family’s income, and race predict too much about the future. Our education system is stuck in the past. Too often our classrooms emphasize skills more important to the industrial economy of the 20th century than to the skills they will need to succeed. Educators are deeply undervalued–a holdover from when teaching was considered “women’s work”–when we know they are some of our most hard working and important public servants. Meanwhile, higher education is either out of reach or saddling young people with mountains of debt while we’ve all but given up on skills-based programs, such as technical college and apprenticeships.
We need leaders who will say ‘yes’ to kids and fight for our children’s future. This means:
Investing in young children via affordable high-quality child care and universal pre-K, as well as prenatal and natal care, safe and stable housing, and two-generation approaches so children and young families start life healthy with stable footing and the support they need.
Supporting our public schools and teachers with the resources, tools, and public accountability needed to offer all children the opportunity to earn a first-rate, public education.
Closing the achievement gap and emphasizing diversity by recruiting diverse, highly-qualified teachers and school staff, emphasizing teacher and school accountability, making school integration an explicit goal, and making use of more creative, modern, and culturally competent educational materials.
Resisting privatization of our schools and education finance, be it through vouchers for private schools, sub-par for-profit institutions, or letting private sector financial institutions profit from student loan debt.
Making college affordable by pushing colleges and universities to rethink the way they think and do business–be it improving graduation rates or using technology to drive down instructional costs–making student loans renegotiable, and continuing to expand access to Pell grants.
Emphasizing entrepreneurship and innovation because small business owners are the backbone of our economy and innovation is the way of the future. Apprenticeships, business development support, financial literacy, technical colleges, and training in practical skills are just as important and more appealing to many people as liberal arts degrees or expertise in STEM fields.
Modernizing our education system for the 21st century because the economy of tomorrow will require a highly-skilled workforce. With information at our fingertips, knowing things is no longer enough. The workforce of tomorrow must be able to evaluate, analyze, and work with copious amounts of data in highly complex systems and take on tasks that computers and robots cannot.