Every forward step I have ever been able to take in life can be traced back to a solid education. It's the great equalizer and puts opportunity and advancement within reach for families across the spectrum. And yet the opportunity to have a high quality, affordable education is getting further and further out of reach for many families across the Commonwealth. If we fail at educating our young people, we take away the very foundation of opportunity in their lives.
Study after study has shown that the sooner a child begins to learn, the greater the likelihood that they will succeed. Because of this, I am a strong supporter of programs like Head Start, Jump Start and Reading is Fundamental that promote early literacy, especially for children in need.
Every dollar we invest in educating our children is truly an investment in the future of America. We need to provide all students with the opportunity to develop 21st century skills by making investments in public colleges and universities, community colleges, and vocational education initiatives -- especially in the STEM areas of technology and engineering. We need to cap monthly student loan repayments and support student loan forgiveness programs for students who are drowning in educational debt.
In the fall of 1997, when I was a new State Senator, I met two Kennedy School graduates, Brett Peiser and Susan Fortin. Together we imagined a "safe, academically rigorous public school that would offer children from every Boston neighborhood the opportunity to receive an education that would prepare them for college". In 1998, we received our charter and now, fifteen years since we opened those doors, Boston Collegiate Charter School is one of the most successful, diverse and thriving charter schools in the nation. One hundred percent of each graduating class has been accepted to college -- the majority of them being the first in their family to attend -- and the tenth grade class recently ranked first in the state of Massachusetts for the Math MCAS, despite the fact that nearly half of the student body lives at or below poverty levels. This year alone, there were 724 applications for 72 available seats and a waiting list of 2500.
As a co-founder of that school, I learned some valuable lessons that I hope to carry to the United States Senate. We need to be bold in our mission to educate America's children. We need to support and reward excellent teachers and we need to do everything in our power to be sure every child has an equal chance at a promising future.