I have devoted my life to teaching in our local public schools and at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC). I also serve as the Executive Director of Sachem Professional Development Inc. (SPDI), a not-for-profit professional development school for teachers. Education transforms lives and offers the greatest hope for solutions to the world’s greatest problems; it must be our nation’s number one priority. While others may say they care deeply about our children and their future, nothing speaks louder about that commitment than full support of improving our educational system and adequately preparing the next generation for tomorrow’s challenges.
The cutting-edge innovations we see today in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, autonomous technologies, advanced manufacturing, and genomics will be common-place tomorrow and students must be prepared to embrace their future. Other students must be prepared to bring light and hope to the world through the creative arts, and through an understanding of history and global interconnectedness. Still others will learn multiple languages or become compassionate and competent first responders.
To accomplish this, classrooms need to be transformed from test-prep workshops to curiosity shops that encourage innovative thinking, collaboration, and a greater understanding of their role in the world around them.
While most education issues are (and should be) addressed at the state and local level, there are a number of things that Congress can do to improve the Pre K – 12, and post secondary education. In Congress I will fight to:
- Make educational equity a national priority.
- Significantly modify the current method of federal high- stakes, standardized testing to create assessment of students’ ability to integrate interdisciplinary concepts and to critically think for themselves.
- Expand federal funding for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), creative arts, and language education.
- Increase federal funding for the nation’s community colleges including our own Suffolk Community College
- Create federally funded and mandated accommodations for developmentally and cognitively challenged students.
- Provide federal grants to public libraries.
- Support research-based education policy at the U.S. Department of Education.
- Significantly increase the funding amount of individual Pell Grants, and to increase the household income eligibility cap to assist middle-class families struggling with college costs.
- Expand student loan forgiveness programs for based professions such as teachers, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, and first responders who work in underserved communities.
- Offer targeted grants for vocational training in high school.
- Provide higher quality school breakfast and lunch programs.
Shaping what the future of education in the 21st century should look like will not be an easy task, but our future depends on getting this right now.