Carolyn on Education
Like many families in this district, I deeply value our public schools and public education. I am the mother of a six-year-old who is enrolled in public school in Gwinnett. We must ensure that we support and invest in a world-class education system.
I am the daughter of public school teachers and am on the faculty at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. Georgia State graduates more African American students than any other university in the country, including historically black schools. I am proud to be a part of this effort.
As Governor Deal and President Obama have both observed, our college graduation rate for 24-35-year-olds in Georgia needs to move from 40 percent to 60 percent by 2020. That will take investment across the board, from pre-K through higher education — and job training programs to keep up with a changing economy.
Early childhood education:
I believe that we need to move toward a universal pre-K program, allowing every child, no matter where he or she lives, to receive the same high-level education.
We cannot have a world-class education system without our incredible and dedicated teachers. We need to ensure that our K-12 teachers are supported with good salaries and a strong system of professional development. We also need to develop early warning systems that allow us to target and dedicate resources toward students who are in the early stages of facing academic difficulties before these problems escalate.
We also must ensure that every child leaves high school with a clear career pathway that includes the education and skills that will allow them to compete successfully in a global marketplace. That includes investing in apprenticeship and technical education programs because college isn’t right for everyone, and that’s OK.
Higher education — a key to Georgia’s economic future — is increasingly unaffordable to so many students. We should never be in a situation where a young person thinks they cannot go to college because they cannot afford it.
To do this, we need to support and bolster programs such as Pell grants and supplemental loan programs, and we must create programs where college loan repayments are pegged to income so that students are not dragged down by debt after they graduate.
We should support the expansion of programs like those developed by Georgia State University to help increase student success, including funding for targeted bridge loans to help students who face unexpected fiscal challenges in making payments. We should also expand a college completion early warning system that identifies and quickly intervenes to help students who show early signs of struggling to complete a particular degree program.