The future of our district is in the hands of our youth, so making sure they have the best education possible is paramount. There is a proverb that it takes a village to raise a child, and it's a value I was raised on in my community. I believe that education should be free from the moment a child walks into preschool to the time they walk across the stage to collect their college diploma.
The burden of student debt is weighing down our youth for their whole lives, and not only serves as a barrier to moving up the economic ladder, but makes even attending college an insurmountable task to many in a time when a college degree is an outright requirement for success in most fields. When I worked as an advisor at a community college, I saw students worry on a daily basis about how they were going to afford to pay their tuition bill. How can we expect them to perform to their best with such worries? Additionally, I will work to end the achievement gap that has afflicted our schools for years by focusing on issues involving racial disparities. No one deserves to be left behind because of the color of their skin, and all the data we have suggests that is exactly what is happening. Currently, only 13 percent of our black neighbors and 7 percent of our Hispanic neighbors have college degrees. I don't believe that this is because they aren't as smart as their white peers. As a child, I wasn't a good student either. I failed standardized tests myself sometimes. I barely graduated high school. I was one of these kids. I was lucky enough to have opportunities from my family and my community, and I believe that everyone deserves the chance I got. It is no coincidence that these students also face the highest rates of poverty.
I know that could have been me, and I know that free education is better for everyone: our state will benefit immensely from a more educated workforce, and our communities will benefit from a more engaged and empathetic populace. Our district is capable of so much, and it's time for us to reach our full potential, together.