Strengthening Education and Workforce Training
There are many reasons that this country has been at the forefront of innovation and opportunity for more than 200 years. We've long had an openness to new ideas and a passion for hard work and entrepreneurship that is unique in the world. Our legal and financial system was built based on a recognition of the importance of innovation and the flow of capital as prerequisites for transforming innovative ideas into new businesses.
But more than anything else, our success has been rooted in the excellence of an educational system that for generations has provided young people with access to great learning opportunities. From preschool through college, we built a system of public primary and secondary schools and public and private universities that that was unmatched anywhere in the world.
Today, our public education system is no longer the source of economic strength and vitality that it once was. At a time when nations around the world are waking up to the value of educational excellence, too often we are shortchanging our children's future and our own by failing to make the long-term investments in education and training that are the key to long-term economic prosperity.
During my career in business and as an entrepreneur, I've seen firsthand that a well-educated workforce is a prerequisite for economic success. I know it's important to fight for policies that provide training to fill the job openings that exist today, while ensuring that there are great educational opportunities for our young people.
Here are just a few of the things we can do to strengthen our education system and ensure that men and women in the workforce continue to get the training for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
* Education reform: Our school systems are filled with dedicated teachers and administrators who work hard every day to educate and inspire. But in too many areas, our education system is failing to meet the needs of our children. I believe strongly that schools must not only teach our children the fundamentals that can be measured on standardized tests, but also how to think critically and creatively. The time has come to rethink education standards, better understand what it takes to train and reward great teachers, and implement innovative approaches to improve our schools.
* Training for new industries: As new industries emerge in clean energy, biotechnology, health care, information technology, and other fields, we'll need workers who have new sets of skills. I will work to increase funding that enables low-income students and displaced workers to take classes at community colleges that prepare them for the jobs of the future.
* Pell Grants: A college education makes a huge difference in the lifetime earning potential for our young people. The federal Pell Grant program is a key to helping low- and middle-income families send their children to college. We need to expand the Pell Grant program to reach more students. Recent legislation that removes private lenders from the federal student loan process and makes billions of additional dollars available to help young people afford college at no cost to taxpayers is a great step forward.
* Community colleges: Community college is a critical component of the nation's higher education system and a key source of training for a wide range of jobs. I will work to increase investment in the nation's two-year colleges in order to add new training programs, reduce drop-out rates, upgrade outdated facilities, and expand online education where appropriate.