Education and the American Dream
U.S. Senate Candidate Roxanne Conlin outlined her plan for improving education today at Cowles Montessori in Windsor Heights.
"Parents want a better future for their children. My parents wanted it for me. I wanted it for my children. And, my children want it for their children - my brilliant, perfect grandchildren," said Conlin. "After World War Two, a better future seemed possible for every child. It was called the American Dream and it came true for many in my generation. Today, the American Dream may not be dead, but it is sure on life support."
Conlin noted that "Our preeminence in the world depends on keeping our innovative edge. We cannot afford for our educational system to be second to China's, India's, or anybody else's. This is not just about a better future for our children. It is about the future of our country. It is about a vibrant, growing economy."
Conlin's plan for improving education includes:
Early Childhood Education
- Making sure that every 4-year old can attend a quality preschool taught by qualified teachers, if that is what the parents want.
- Fully fund Head Start and similar programs so that all children have the chance to succeed in school and in life.
- Impose high standards across all publicly funded early learning settings, develop new programs to improve opportunities and outcomes, engage parents in their child's early learning and development, and improve the early education workforce.
- The goals is to improve the quality of education our children receive, close the achievement gap, and see that more students graduate from high school ready for the workforce or for higher education.
- Encourage our best and brightest teachers to teach in low preforming schools and encourage parents to become involved in their child's education.
- Create a new program that is flexible, provides support for educators, rewards student progress, and is fully funded by the federal government.
Closing the Achievement Gap
- 30% of high school students drop out of school without earning a diploma. This is a national crisis in an economy increasingly based on critical thinking skills and technical knowledge. This is one reason why I insisted that the Microsoft lawsuit settlement included $60 million for computer and technology improvement in Iowa schools.
- The federal government must support successful community interventions and reinforce programs that link students' formal education with the job market.
- Such programs might include scholarships-in-trust for at-risk students who stay in school, tax credits for small businesses that partner with schools to provide apprenticeships, and mentoring programs that bring community leaders into schools.
- We must make the dream of a college education attainable for any student who stays in school and qualifies. Unfortunately, this dream is being priced out of reach for many families.
- As state aid declines, tuition goes up. The first fix should be to put people back to work so that both their finances and state revenues improve.
- We also need to increase funding for scholarships, grants, and loans. Some of this can come from the federal government but we should also encourage private businesses, individuals, endowments, and foundations to increase assistance to both institutions of higher learning and to the children of their workers. This is one reason why I insisted that the Microsoft lawsuit settlement included $60 million for computer and technology improvement in Iowa schools.
- The student loan reforms passed by Congress this year were an excellent step in improving access, reducing inefficiencies, and saving students money.
- Community colleges are also important, providing job training for young people and new job skills for workers who have been laid off or who are seeking a new career. During the recession, enrollment in community colleges has sky-rocketed. We should increase funding for the Perkins Career and Technical Education program and to expand online opportunities for learning. It is a great investment in our future.
Conlin said "the success I have had in life is directly related to the education I have received. This is the American Dream we all want for our children. As a Senator, I will fight to keep the American Dream alive."