· As many have pointed out in the last decades, our economy is now largely knowledge-based, making a highly educated workforce a necessity. I am a product of public schools and public universities. Every American student deserves high quality schools where they can learn in a safe environment.
· This safe environment starts with protection from violence and bullying. Schools must strictly enforce anti-bullying and no violence policies. Students that cannot treat their fellow students and teachers respectfully must be removed from the general student population. There is no place for “boys will be boys” apologists or endless “second chances” for bullies or violent students. The victims of those students deserve better.
· I have never seen evidence of a “school to prison pipeline”. Anti-social behavior needs to be addressed at the earliest signs of problems, and policies that limit disciplining problem students out of fear of stigmatizing them only perpetuate bad behavior. Schools need professional and calm, but strict, policies on behavior.
· Schools also need to set high academic standards. Trends such as dropping advanced math or lowering merit-based entry into magnet schools or gifted programs are misguided, and only lower the quality of education for the future professionals that we desperately need. Concern for underperforming students should never result in lowering standards or opportunities for the gifted students.
· State-funded universities should strive to make tuitions affordable, but that must be balanced with charging enough to attract and retain quality professors and to provide high quality facilities and technology. State legislatures can also be creative in designing tax incentives and savings programs for families to pay for their children’s education.
· I am open to creative ideas to increase educational opportunities and make college affordable, but there must be constraints placed on proposals for free college. If paid for by the public, the resulting graduates would need to provide a benefit to the taxpayers who paid their way. Thus, I do not favor free education in just any major. It’s hard to justify what the future public benefit of more graduates in Greek Mythology or French Literature would be to our overall economy. Any free tuition programs would need to be limited to fields of study that are deemed essential and in short supply, such as engineering, computer science, medical, or other high-tech fields. Also, free college programs should be means tested, as it makes no sense to spend taxpayer money on students who could easily afford to pay their own way.
· Employers are free to offer student loan payment programs to attract new graduates, but blanket government forgiveness of student loans is not fair to taxpayers. Student loan debt reflects choices each student makes on which college to attend, what field to study, and how much to work while in school. Blindly forgiving all student debt would separate students from those decisions and encourage unwise choices. As with tuition policy, a better use of private and public funds would be to target loan repayment incentives to needed fields of study or hard to fill employment locations.
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