“Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce; they should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense.” – The West Wing
I should start off by saying that I believe education to be the single most important profession that anyone can possibly go into. There is no job quite like it.
Without teachers, no other profession can exist. Without Biology teachers, we don’t have Doctors. Without English teachers, we have no Poets, no Playwrights, no Novelists. Without Physics or Calculus or Design teachers, we are a world without Engineers. Without History teachers…we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Every generation builds on the experiences and knowledge of those that came before, and our teachers are the bricklayers of that advancement. Teaching takes the knowledge that we as a society discover and create, distills it, and informs the next generation of what we have done, and what we have learned. Teachers take the advancements we make today, the cutting edge of human knowledge, and make it common knowledge in 30 years time.
For our society to continue to advance, we must ensure that our teachers are properly equipped and safeguarded so that they are at their best, so that the students that come out of our schools are at their best, so that the future of our people, the future of our children and our children’s children, is at its best.
We must equip our children for success, and that starts in our schools.
So how do we do that? What do we do?
We start by fully funding our schools and classrooms. Take a moment to imagine what can be done in our classrooms with just marginally more funded schools. Smaller class sizes could be the norm; we can see new books and technology at work in the classroom to propel Kentucky’s children ahead of the national average; we can make teaching aids and supplies amply available to make sure that everyone has the ability to learn in a way that suits them best. This would take a marginal $2,000 per student, and even a partial concession could push Kentucky forward as one of the greatest education systems in our nation.
We start by ensuring that our teachers are paid properly, and that their retirements are secure. Worrying about your own future is exhausting, and we’re going to make sure the people teaching the new generation to have to worry, together we’ll make sure our teachers are taken care of so all of their passion and energy can go into their work.
We start by helping our students help each other. We’re going to create a statewide after-school peer tutoring program, where students who are doing well in their classes can volunteer to tutor other students, either at their grade level or below, who aren’t doing so well. We’ll use technology to connect our students with each other no matter how far apart their schools are.
We’re going to institute a universal free lunch program, so our students will never have to worry about “Lunch Debt”. Child hunger is going to be a concept that we, as a state, a community, and a people, have moved beyond.
We’re going to raise the standard for education excellence in Kentucky and ensure that our students and teachers are among the best in the nation, and we’re going to do it together.