All of our children deserve access to top-quality education in the public school system. Education is fundamental to the growth and development of our children and the long-term success of Florida and our nation. As the proud father of three children who attend public school in Palm Beach County, I see firsthand what is working and what we need to improve in our educational system.
I strongly support increased funding for early childhood education including Head Start, pre-K, and after school programs. We must also develop better ways of evaluating our schools to encourage a focus on knowledge and learning rather than evaluation based only on standardized tests. The overemphasis on testing has taken root here in Florida, and I will continue to push for a more balanced approach that better serves our students.
Washington can no longer impose mandates, like No Child Left Behind, on local schools without providing proper funding. Further, we need to keep federal and state funds invested in our public schools in order to help educate our next generation and pay our teachers a salary commensurate with the contribution they make to our society.
Great teaching is the cornerstone to great public education. We need to recruit the best teachers possible to teach in our schools. In the Florida Senate, I sponsored legislation to provide incentives for new teacher recruitment, and I plan to continue these efforts in Washington. Teachers play an invaluable role in the lives of our children, and we must pay them accordingly.
Finally, a college education must be available and affordable for every student who wants to attend. I support federal efforts to increase Pell Grants, making college loans cheaper and more widely available to students. We must also prioritize vocational and lifelong skills training to ensure that all American workers -- regardless of age -- remain competitive in the global economy.