A well-educated country yields endless rewards: a better workforce, a stronger economy, and lower crime, to name a few.
However, we need to take a new approach to education. In the 21st Century, people who understand the dynamics of global economic and intercultural relations will have a distinct advantage in securing jobs. Globalization is causing policy and business leaders to call for new competencies to advance U.S. competitiveness, leadership in global markets, scientific innovation and security. These emerging realities of the globally interconnected world have a large impact on our economy.
Our education system must prepare our students to solve new national security and humanitarian challenges, such as terrorism, AIDS, environmental degradation and poverty.
One way to go about this is to ensure that our teachers are the best available. Research increasingly demonstrates what common sense has long made apparent to educators and parents: teacher quality matters. Teachers' knowledge and skills are the most vital in-school factors influencing children's learning. As a policymaker, I have the responsibility to craft effective policies that reward and attract highly skilled teachers, whether this is through testing or other standardized methods.
Vigorous standards and holding schools accountable to those standards is imperative in ensuring that our children are ready to face the increasingly complex challenges that the future holds. As part of this accountability, we owe to the next generation of Americans a strong K-12 public education system. I support increased funding for local schools and more efficient methods of sending federal dollars to local classrooms, so that those school districts that need help most, get the extra boost they need from federal funding.
Finally, higher education is also extremely important to the success of our children. Access to higher education, whether through grants or scholarships, is critical to the success of millions of students throughout the country. Schools such as the University of Washington, Bates Technical College and Highline Community College must be within the means of families whose children have the academic aptitude to attend a 2 or 4 year post-secondary school. It falls on the Federal government to ensure that financial aid is within the grasp of every family that needs it.