Issue Position - Supporting Education: Opening the Door to Opportunity
Education has been a stepping stone to opportunity for my family, as it has been for many Minnesota families. My grandfather didn't graduate from high school, but he worked hard and saved money in a coffee can in the basement so my dad could go to college. My dad went to Ely Junior College (now called Vermilion Community College) in northern Minnesota, where thousands of the sons and daughters of Iron Rangers have taken their next step up the economic ladder. My mom taught second grade until she was 70. She and my dad taught me the value of education, as so many Minnesotans have taught their own children.
Although a county attorney usually isn't involved in education, I have made it a priority to work closely with the schools in the communities that I serve. I introduced new initiatives to keep schools safe and to help keep kids in school and out of trouble -- because prevention and early intervention are a lot cheaper than prosecution and incarceration. As County Attorney, I've sought to keep kids in the classroom and on the playground, rather than having them end up in the courtroom and on the prison ground. I've also emphasized the essential role of parental responsibility. If there's any magic to kids thriving in school and doing well in life, it's the magic of parental expectations and involvement.
Minnesotans have always believed that investing in education -- from early childhood education to the University of Minnesota and our State Colleges and Universities -- pays extraordinary dividends. It pays off for the individual and it pays off for the state. And our past investment has resulted in our high school students having some of the highest test scores in the nation. Minnesotans are proud of our reputation as a brainpower state, but we also know that we can't rest on our laurels.
At a time when our global economy demands more from our workforce, we must not allow the current administration in Washington to turn its back on the foundation of our future prosperity: education.
The priorities in Washington need to change.
As your U.S. Senator, here's what I'll fight for:
I will fight for high standards and accountability in education -- but in a way that provides local schools and teachers with the support they need to fulfill these standards. The current administration in Washington deserves a failing grade -- an "F" -- for failing to make good on its promise of funding when it proposed the No Child Left Behind law. Nearly $27 billion has been withheld from America's schools, including over $91 million for Minnesota alone. Washington has also created unfunded mandates and failed to meet its commitment to support special education. Our schools and teachers need real support, not empty promises, from the politicians in Washington.
I will fight for new, innovative ideas to reduce truancy, keep kids in school and equip them with the skills they need to work in an ever-changing economy.
I will fight for a stronger federal commitment to higher education. The current administration in Washington has failed to invest what's necessary to ensure that our colleges and universities continue to lead the world. It makes no sense for Washington to cut access to grants and loans for students when higher education costs are skyrocketing -- such as tuition at the University of Minnesota going up 81% in just seven years.
I will fight, along with states and local school districts, to expand and improve early childhood education opportunities so every child gets a good start in life and enters kindergarten ready to learn. When children get off to a good start, they do better in school, stay law-abiding and enjoy higher earnings as adults. Art Rolnick, research head at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, has calculated that public investment in a good preschool program generates a 16 percent annual rate of return. Try to get that in the stock market!