At a time when too many are unemployed, our country is challenged to fill job openings with workers who have 21st-century skills. Public education has never been more important to our children, our economy and our nation.
We have to focus on high-quality early child education, because so much development occurs before age 5; increase access to higher education, because one's chances of economic security are much greater with a college degree; support teacher pay and meaningful teacher evaluations, because they are training our next generation of Americans to compete globally; and address the problem of college affordability and student debt, because it's negatively affecting the economic futures of a generation.
I support increased funding for education across the board, and collective bargaining for teachers, and I will fight the trend to privatize our nations' schools.
My husband is a teacher. I teach at a community college. We have two kids in the public school system. I strongly believe teachers make or break our future; as such, they deserve the same respect as CEOs, hedge-fund managers and professional athletes.
I support public education employees' rights to bargain collectively, because the top ten states with students passing Advanced Placement exams are all states where teachers have collective bargaining rights, according to a 2008 study by the College Board. Teacher salaries also are highest in states where teachers have collective bargaining rights.
The federal government should require states to ensure comprehensive, meaningful evaluation systems, developed collaboratively by educators and administrators in each local district. I oppose any federal mandate that teacher evaluations be based on student standardized test scores.
America's way forward is to increase our engagement and investment in public education -- not run away from it.