Our State’s Constitution guarantees every child in North Carolina a sound education offered through our public schools. We can’t improve schools when the legislature is arbitrarily cutting education budgets and slashing the professional development of the teachers that are left. Slashing textbook programs, vital research programs, and increasing classroom sizes are a few of the results of the massive cuts to education last year.
In order to attract businesses and help existing companies, we need to make sure that our citizens have the appropriate workforce training necessary to perform high-tech, high-wage jobs. Workforce training will get the unemployed working now and keep unemployment down in the future. Workforce training will bring together our community colleges and businesses to provide the professional and vocational training needed to boost our economy. Expanding vocational training to our public schools and community colleges is an essential way to spur job growth. Lower dropout rates, increased graduation rates, and better job prospects will all be a result of a comprehensive economic development initiative which is committed to education.
I will be a champion for early education, our public schools, our community colleges and our university system to give more people and our state a better shot at economic prosperity over future decades. Good jobs start with great schools.
It’s no secret that having a great start in your early years can significantly help our young people grow into successful adults. I know many children arrive at the kindergarten door completely unprepared. They have language and social skill deficits from which they will never recover. It should not be this way. We know early education works. It closes achievement gaps and boosts the chances of graduation and better lives for struggling children.
Pre-kindergarten in this state has been successful. It is an education reform that is producing lasting gains and saving the state many times the initial investment. I support the expansion of pre-k to all those children who, through no fault of their own, need this educational experience.
We also need to consider restoring funds to our state’s Smart Start Program. Smart Start funds a wide range of activities in child care quality, family support, health and literacy for children prenatal until they go to school. Since Pre-Kindergarten funds childcare for 4 year-olds only, Smart Start services start earlier in children’s lives preparing them to succeed in Kindergarten. We have to put a system in place that measures success so we know these funds are well invested. There are approximately 2,000 days between birth and Kindergarten so it’s important to start early preparing vulnerable children so they can have a chance to succeed.
As State Senator, I will advocate for improved resources in the public school classroom. It’s vital we ensure teaching once again becomes an attractive and respected profession. We must support teachers so we can get the best and the brightest working in the classroom. Great teachers are the foundation of great public schools. The attacks on the teaching profession must end.
I will advocate education policies that give our local school systems greater flexibility and encourage innovative approaches to teaching and learning. But with greater flexibility and independence must come improved accountability. I will expect a proper return on our investment — holding school systems, administrators and educators responsible for their performance.
I will be a voice for those in low wealth counties who need an advocate for the resources necessary to deliver the education required to give children a shot at success.
As a former community college student and trustee, I know firsthand that we must invest in our community college system to get North Carolina moving again. As a state, we must make a commitment to funding our community college at a competitive level. This means properly funding technological equipment needs that boost the educational experience and parallel what graduates will see in the workplace.
Jobs in healthcare, life sciences, computers, and green technology are the jobs to get our economy moving. We must fund our community colleges properly in order to jumpstart our economy by providing our citizens with the skills needed to perform today’s job requirements.
As State Senator I will promote a fresh and comprehensive approach to work force training that equips today’s employees with the skills they need to compete for employment in today’s growth industries. I will work to improve access to relevant work force training programs for displaced employees. We must have work force training programs that look at the growing jobs of the 21st century economy and gear those programs to that market, all while getting people back to work right away.
NORTH CAROLINA’S UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES
The success of North Carolina’s economy has always been built on our colleges and universities. They are the lifeblood to innovation and ingenuity. Engineering, technology, life sciences, and liberal arts alike all add value to the quality of life for our state. We must be supportive of funding our university system and the research and innovation that they bring in order to demonstrate we are serious about creating a world class economy and be competitive against other states.
As your State Senator, I will fight to ensure that our colleges and universities are funded at a level that will deliver a world-class workforce and a world-class economy.