As a product of public schools and a parent in the public school system, I am a firm believer in public schools. Not only are they a place for children to be educated and to grow, but they are the center of a community.
District 16 has wonderful schools. But we also have our challenges. MCPS is the largest school system in Maryland - the 14th largest in the country - and we are growing by 2,500 students a year. We have a shortage of teachers, and our teachers are underpaid. MCPS has a large number of FARMS (31.5%) and ESOL (14.2%) students, as well as 11.7% of our students receiving special education services.
I have spent years fighting for our school system. I fought against vouchers and for full funding of our schools; against the school-to-prison pipeline and for students' First Amendment rights. As your Delegate, I will continue to champion our public schools and our students.
* Continue to fight for full funding of our public schools, both capital and operating dollars. At the same time, we must stop sending public dollars to private and religious schools.
* Ensure that our number of ESOL, FARMS and children with special needs are accounted for in the funding formula and supported.
* Ensure that our teachers receive the support and respect they deserve.
* Work with county officials to identify and activate new school sites for our burgeoning system.
* Support pre-K programs.
All students deserve the opportunity to succeed in their chosen path after high school. What is meant by post-secondary success, however, has shifted significantly in recent years. The economy, college and career opportunities all have changed. The vast majority of all jobs now require some level of post-secondary education and training, which means a high school diploma is no longer enough. To be successful, all students will need to continue their education or training after high school. Maryland must look to the future, recognize the different landscape, connect our education with our economy, and help ensure our children have access to more pathways to success. In so doing, we can close the achievement gap by raising the floor for all students while raising the ceiling for our most advanced students; and by preparing all our students for life after high school.
We need to:
* Provide our students a rigorous academic curriculum combined with meaningful internships and other work-based learning experiences.
* Support high-quality programs for middle and high schools that expose students to career opportunities in high-demand fields such as IT and health care.
* Honor and invest in the different pathways that will provide post-secondary success for our students, whether it be four-year colleges, community colleges and/or certificate programs that lead to credentials with value in the labor market.
* Expand participation in advanced courses, including dual-enrollment programs where high school students earn college credit. These acceleration programs are particularly important for underrepresented students, as it increases the chances they will go to college and reduces college costs.