On the primary campaign trail, there was talk about the value of sending ordinary people to Washington. I grew up in rural Southern Indiana with a wonderful family that often had difficulty making ends meet. I had to save babysitting money to buy a sweater to wear to the Homecoming dance. So I consider myself pretty ordinary and I am thankful everyday that I learned to budget scarce resources early on and also that my childhood was filled with both love and encouragement, despite the obstacles. With encouragement along with hard work, some really great teachers in my K-12 public education, scholarships and other financial aid for pursuing higher education, this ordinary person was educated and empowered to do some extraordinary things in life. Things like being able to care for and comfort veterans at a VA Hospital, improving long term care, researching better ways to care for people with dementia, writing award winning books, serving as a Dean of a School of Nursing and providing leadership to both state and national nursing workforce policy and planning centers.
I want every child in America to have a great education open to them, unlocking America's potential through ordinary people making a difference by rising up to do extraordinary things. That means we must support educational opportunities, especially in our public schools. We need to honor our teachers and provide them with salaries commensurate with the hard work they do and the difference they make in the lives of students every day. While salaries are usually determined at the local and state level, I will advocate for more federal assistance such as college loan forgiveness for teachers in under-served areas.
Frankly, I am a bit surprised by the sudden push back on Common Core Standards, which are not a federal mandate. Rather these standards are the brainchild of the National Governors Association in coordination with the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards do not require specific content but recommend key concepts that students should understand according to grade level. They focus more on critical thinking and higher level reasoning that can be applied to a variety of learning situations. Forty-five states, including North Carolina, have adopted Common Core Standards. There are some issues to be addressed, but in general, I believe that these standards are a step forward for education in the 21st Century.