"There are many problems, but I think there is a solution to all these problems; just one, and it's education." ― Malala Yousafzai
We are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, not only in terms of income, but resources. One of our most valuable resources is our children. Education must therefore be a priority. America's children deserve the best in education we can provide. Unemployment rates are lower and earnings are higher with higher levels of educational achievement. Unfortunately, many barriers to higher education exist in the United States.
We must strengthen our public school system and halt efforts to take dollars away from public schools. We must look for innovative ways to improve our K-12 schools so that students are prepared for the work force and for the rigors of higher education. We must provide universal pre-K so that children enter the educational system with the skills necessary to thrive. We must invest in funding to recruit and retain quality educators and to fully supply all classrooms and students, regardless of community income level and demographics. We can replace the school-to-prison pipeline with a cradle-to-college pipeline, ensuring equal access to education for all.
We must address mental health issues that affect our students. Innovative programs such as the Williamson County Child and Youth Behavioral Health Task Force should be supported and expanded. We must ensure that our youth have access to a full spectrum of mental health resources.
We must continue to work to lower drug and alcohol use among our students. Drug and alcohol use among students leads to learning impairment, decreased educational achievement, and higher dropout rates, which affect the economic success not only of individual students, but of the United States as a whole.
We must work toward providing tuition-free higher education programs. Several states, including Tennessee and Oregon, have already introduced programs to cover tuition expenses for students, and several other states are aiming to do the same. We must expand on and extend these programs across the United States and build on these programs as we learn how best to provide access to higher education to our youth. We must provide quality education for all of America's children.