As a product of New Mexico public schools, the first in his village to graduate from law school, the husband of a New Mexico public educator, and the father of three children in public schools, Hector Balderas knows our greatest responsibility is to ensure our children have the opportunity to receive a world class education.
From pre-kindergarten through college, we must sustain an educational system that secures our future by providing the tools young people need to succeed. Denying any child the opportunity to realize his or her talents puts our nation at risk. There is no better investment that we can make as a country than in our children's education. Fighting for and supporting first-rate public schools are paramount to not only our children's success but our country's as well.
The economic and societal benefits of an education are profound and substantiated--higher wages, lower crime rates, less poverty, and better health all result. But to reach these goals we must keep more kids in school through college by lowering high school dropout rates and raising college graduation rates. Hector will fight to reach President Obama's goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020. It's an attainable goal, but only if we make college more affordable and accessible to all students.
Not only are far too few students attending a post-secondary institution, but many of the ones who do are being saddled with unbearable debt from student loans. No student should ever forego an education because of financial barriers--either before entering or after attending. The first question a recent college graduate should ask is, "How can I harness my education to lead a productive life and fulfill my dreams?" Not, "How can I possibly pay off my student loans?" Hector will work to protect and increase federal loans like Pell Grants for hard working families, lower tuition rates, and continue to reform the student loan process.
We know that if we want to reach President Obama's goal for college education, we must start by investing in early childhood education. Students with a firm educational foundation are far more likely to succeed at the highest levels. Hector will always vote to protect essential proven programs such as Head Start. We also must continue developing, implementing and evaluating innovative initiatives, putting more technology in the classroom, and reforming those programs that are failing our children. Hector will work to ensure that every New Mexico school has the funding and resources it needs to succeed. Decreasing funding for struggling schools reflects backwards thinking and hurts our children. We have the capacity to improve our schools, not abandon them.
Hector knows teachers have the power to shape our kids' futures. We need to give teachers the space and support they need to grow and develop as educators. Too many teachers burn out rapidly from a system that treats them like testing machines. We must provide training and sustenance to our teachers and treat them with the respect due to community heroes, which they are. The relentless onslaught from Republicans against public school teachers is nothing short of insulting. We want the best and brightest at the front of the classroom and we want them to see a future in which they can continue to develop as creative and devoted champions of our future. Demonizing and scapegoating teachers is hardly the way to recruit our most talented to teaching in our public schools, which many of us know can be places of opportunity for all. Hector Balderas will never give up on our kids, our teachers, or public education. The costs are too great to do otherwise.