I believe that a solid education, especially in history and civics, makes for a healthy republic and prepares young minds for the social, economic, and political trials that they will face. It isn’t just about collecting knowledge or getting a job, but more about providing the skills necessary for people of all ages to understand, analyze, and adapt to their environment. An open and inclusive education is therefore a curative for what ails us. The purpose of public education is to promote the common good. What this means is that while getting an education might benefit you personally, having an educated society will best ensure society as a whole. This concept goes back to before the Preamble to the United State’s Constitution’s call to “promote the general Welfare.” A similar concept shows up in Plato and Aristotle, utilizing phrase the common good. Societies seeking equality, fairness, and the betterment of their citizen’s lives all highly value a quality education for all.
Unfortunately, access to the best education is under threat. State legislators shouldn’t tell local communities how to govern their local situations, since these situations differ radically across the state and are governed more by political pandering than informed research. There is a reason that the BOE is a nonpartisan race: keep politics out of our children’s educational system. Local authority is best when dealing with local issues: it’s the reason we have school boards to begin with! This thinking applies to all manner of topics, whether it is innovative teaching techniques (let teachers teach-they are the experts) or response to global crises.
This brings us to the second part of my platform: listen to the experts. State legislators aren’t experts in education or public health. We should listen to the research conducted by experts in their fields and then confirmed by other researchers running similar tests. Masks and vaccines? Follow the $10B dollar yearly budget and the 10k scientists at the CDC, rather than an evening spent Googling. Do you want better student academic outcomes? The research says we need smaller class sizes, more service personnel like mental health counselors, more bus drivers, and later start times. Do you want to fix the teacher shortage? The answer is not to cut qualifications because sub-standard teachers make for sub-standard outcomes. Pay. Them. More. Fund. PEIA. Additionally, the chilling effect of threatening educators with lawsuits for boogeyman topics that aren’t even being taught in schools will only drive quality educators out of a job and out of the state. CRT most certainly shouldn’t be taught in the K-12 system, and it never has, because it is a graduate level law methodology. Studies show that Charter schools are no more effective, and perhaps less effective, than public schools and they funnel money away from the local school system into out of state, corporate pockets. In short, stop defunding public education for private gain. The public good is served by public education. We need to stop chipping away at this foundational edifice.
In that vein, I believe that we should fully fund the Ohio County Public Library. The decision to cut 1/3 of their budget last year may have been well intentioned in the sense that they were able to create some new “innovative learning spaces,” but combined with all of the spending done on athletics it is clear that education was not a priority. Besides, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice one to have the other, especially considering all the good work the library has done over the years in managing their budget. Why haven’t we had a bond levy for library upgrades or repairs? Because they managed their money well and planned for such contingencies. There shouldn’t be a need to rob Peter to pay Paul. Also, education is also a lifelong pursuit, not just something confined to the young and the Ohio County Public Library has a reputation for providing top quality educational programming for all ages. Cutting funding to the library means cutting funding for programs that support the most vulnerable in our community because the library offers everyone access to information, services, computers, and more, for free. Everyone deserves the opportunity to better themselves, regardless of their age or income level.