As the mother of three sons (Will and stepsons Tom and Brian), I know how critical our public schools are for preparing our children for the future. We simply live in a different world, one that places great emphasis on achievement and competition. Our kids are not only compared with kids from their school district or region or state, they are competing in a global economy for high-skilled jobs that demand high levels of math and science training. While we are facing many challenges, providing a quality basic education -- from pre-school through higher education -- remains the paramount duty of the State and the Legislature. We have many tough choices ahead of us, but negotiating with our children's futures isn't an option for me.