Access to public education has been a cornerstone of the American dream for more than a century. Education is an investment in our economic future. It’s a simple truth that nations that out educate America now will out compete us in the future.
As a parent and a businesswoman, I have seen first-hand how it can change one’s life. I have studied and worked at South Carolina’s public universities. And when I needed to support my family I went back to school to make sure I had the skills to succeed in the workforce.
I passionately believe that quality public education is the key to our future: It must be available to all of our children from pre-k to high school, technical school and beyond. For too long South Carolina’s educational system has been lagging. We are home to some of the best public schools and some of the nation’s poorest performing schools. We need to accelerate the academic progress of our students, extend options for early learning, provide resources and assistance to our low performing schools, and invest in getting great teachers in every classroom. We need a cradle to career educational strategy.
To compete in our changing economy, our educational system must be better aligned with the skills and industries needed for the future. Through my work in the local maritime business and at Clemson University, I have been a strong supporter of investments in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Programs. We need to bring the worlds of education, technology and business together to help our graduates become career-ready and ensure a steady supply of trained workers.
From Trident Technical College to Clemson University to Boeing to the Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Development Initiatives, there are many people rolling up their sleeves here in the 1st District to make education work. In Congress, I will support them and further opportunities for collaboration between business and educators.
Quality teaching is the key to educational success. We must do more to improve teacher recruitment and retention. I support programs that provide loan forgiveness to public school teachers after 10 years of service and efforts to improve teacher quality through mentoring and collaboration.
We need to continue to work on early learning and literacy initiatives because if students can’t read in elementary school they face huge barriers to later success.
Research shows that attending high-quality pre-k has a lasting impact on a child’s success both in school and in life. Investing dollars in high-quality pre-k now yields significant returns later. Studies show a return on investment of seven dollars for every one dollar spent. Currently about half of our state’s 4 year olds get some sort of early childhood education. We must invest in our economic future by extending that voluntary option to all our 4 year olds.
Education is not one size fits all. We must build a viable portfolio of options to successfully teach all of South Carolina’s children. I want to expand school choice both by making sure every neighborhood school is a great school and giving states the option to use federal dollars to expand school choice through single gender schools, online learning, magnet, charter, Montessori, creative arts, and math and science schools. Families should have a variety of options available to meet the educational needs of their children.
The rapid deterioration of America’s middle class is the most important economic problem of our time. One contributing factor is that the cost of college is out of reach for too many families. I would work to increase access to community, technical, and higher education institutions and address affordability. I also support targeted assistance to make sure men and women in uniform are able to access higher education and that benefits reflect today’s education costs.