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President's Viewpoint

Commitment, Not Talk


 “As we head back to school,
there is no better time to remind
those running for office that
education should be a major part
of every presidential candidate’s
platform.”

—Lily Eskelsen Garćia

They’re baaaack! Traveling the country by bus and train, brimming with platforms and promises, they’re as giddy as...well...school children. Who? The latest crop of presidential hopefuls, of course!

Just as our students are boarding school buses and heading back to our classrooms, campaign buses carrying 2016 presidential candidates are criss crossing the country to tell voters how they plan to fix America.

Here’s what the candidates have in common: Each has acknowledged that the middle class is broken and in desperate need of repair. Most recognize that opportunity is far out of reach for far too many people.

But their solutions for fixing these problems are as different as night and day.

As we head back to school, there is no better time to remind those running for office that education should be a major part of every presidential candidate’s platform. Our great organization of educators stands 3 million strong, and it’s up to each of us to tell candidates that the way to build the middle class is by keeping public education strong.

An investment in education becomes a direct investment in our nation’s future. That’s why educators have repeatedly called for funding increases to support programs that improve opportunities for all students—from preschool to college. And as this election ramps up, we must continue to call for change.
Let’s tell candidates that we expect them to make a real commitment to early education. Research consistently shows that preK programs are critical when it comes to early language, social-emotional and cognitive development. We know early education sets the stage for academic success throughout a child’s school career. Candidates need to know that, too.

We must also tell them to find ways to bridge the opportunity gap and work with us and our allies to make every public school as good as the best public school.
While we’re at it, let’s stop tolerating funding policies that allow students to attend under-resourced schools where they face devastating equity and opportunity gaps. That way, the gifts and talents that live inside each child will have the chance to flourish.

And to make sure the talents in children are nurtured through adulthood, let’s demand candidates solve the college debt crisis. Every American—no matter their background—should have a fair shot at higher education.

As the 2016 presidential race gets into full swing, let’s ensure every hopeful hears this singular message from NEA: Enough with the pretty campaign promises. Make a commitment to public education. It’s what educators, parents, and students deserve.

For more on Lily Eskelsen García’s perspectives and activities, visit her popular blog, Lily’s Blackboard.

 

Published in:

Published In

17-Aug-15

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