Education

Education is the key that unlocks opportunity. What constitutes opportunity is quite a different thing in the modern economy than in previous decades. In this age of expanding globalization and outsourcing, students must be ready to compete not only locally but statewide, nationwide and internationally. The U.S. has lagged behind other countries in preparing students for success. If we are to prosper as a nation, we need an education system that prepares students to be highly competitive.

We need look no further than Finland for a successful model. As a nation, Finland has placed a greater priority on education than the U.S. There, teachers are better trained, better paid, and only the best of the best become teachers. We need a value shift in our country to accomplish this. Our economic viability in the world depends upon it.

We need education programs that get kids and parents more involved from the very beginning to improve the graduation rate and lower the dropout rate. We must commit to making sure students receive a high school diploma as it is the minimum requirement to enter today’s job market. Without it, fewer job options are available and the ability of a student to transition into an independent, productive adult is greatly reduced.

For our economy to prosper, we must do a better job of developing all of our human capital. All educational experiences should be positive ones and excellent opportunities across the educational spectrum should be the norm. Our system can and should do a better job of identifying students' talents and gearing them from an early age toward an appropriate path. If a student’s interests and life's passion lead them to avenues of education other than to traditional college, those options should be made readily available and encouraged. College should not be promoted as the only destination for students. Such winner-take-all expectations fail to transition students into happy, well-adjusted, productive, working adults.

Our government should do a better job of promoting achievement. We need educated workers who can compete on a global level. Student loan interest rates recently doubled for graduate students. Those with advanced degrees will have better employment opportunities and will thus be more likely to become successful taxpaying citizens. Yet, overburdening graduates with huge student loan debt discourages them from becoming the educated workforce we need. We must work to keep student loan interest rates low. The economic viability of our economy should not come down to a hard-knuckle choice by students who must balance the benefit of an education against harsh student loan repayment schedules. We need affordable, flat interest rates for all levels of higher education.

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