A strong education system is paramount to continued economic growth and success of our state. Large employers and growing companies demand an educated workforce. By putting dollars directly into the classroom, providing local educators with more direct control over their schools and retaining quality teachers, we can improve education statewide. Parental choice is an important ingredient in determining the best option for a child's education, and parent engagement is equally important. By encouraging parents to take an active role in education, we will develop stronger schools and better-prepared kids. The economy has been tough on education, and despite tough cuts, many of our schools are excelling and our students are succeeding. As the economy has improved, I have made it a priority to responsibly restore education funding and focus on programs that are most important to your family. Increased funding for strategic programs such as implementing the Common Core Standards will be a priority for me this year.