America needs more education, workforce training

April 3, 2018
Contributed Columns

Education and workforce training programs are key to creating a generation of Americans who are prepared to fill 21st century jobs.

Investing in education at every level not only benefits our children and families, it is also an investment in our state and country’s economic future.

For too long, many of our schools have underperformed and fallen behind, and on tribal lands, students struggle to access quality education because schools have fallen into disrepair. Improving and strengthening public education and higher education for the next generation of students must be one of our highest priorities.

We must also ensure our veterans continue to be able to access the education benefits they have earned and where necessary, cut red tape to allow them to transition their unique skills into today’s workforce. In addition, I will keep working to protect our student veterans from predatory entities and practices.

A strong public education system that serves all students is the foundation of our global competitive edge and our democracy. It cannot be undermined by efforts to cut, privatize, or shift resources while leaving the most vulnerable kids behind.

As a public servant, I have dedicated my work to strengthen our education system in Arizona. During my time in the Arizona legislature, I led a bipartisan coalition to fund an all-day kindergarten program, increased funding for research at our three state universities, and fought to ensure teachers received the pay they deserved.

As we continue to address the needs of our communities, elected officials must focus on the digital divide that has created a disparity between rural, tribal, and urban schools. Our students, regardless of where they live, should have access to the highest quality education and opportunities that allow them to grow and succeed in and out of the classroom. To do so, we must invest in high-speed broadband internet deployment in rural and tribal areas and strengthen schools by protecting Impact Aid, which has proven to be critical to the success of rural schools across Arizona.

In Washington, we have made great strides to secure funding for rural and tribal school construction, protected student financial aid that has opened the door for millions of students to attend college, and invested in skills and workforce training.

In the most recent funding bill, we secured additional funding for Impact Aid, infrastructure projects, and economic development programs. These resources will create education and job opportunities for students in every corner of the country.

I recently introduced legislation that funds critical maintenance for Diné College on the Navajo Nation, and at my urging, Congress funded a program through the Bureau of Indian Education to repair or replace schools on tribal lands that have been deemed to be in poor condition or condemned.

Congress has an obligation to provide students across Indian Country with a quality education, and just like in every other community across the country, education is the key to unlocking economic growth in tribal communities.

I am committed to ensuring our rural and urban communities are areas where future generations can raise their families and find good-paying jobs. The economic vitality of our state and the quality of our children’s education should not be a political issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to invest in an education system of that will place our students an country in the best possible position to secure our children’s future, help make our families strong, and the United States economically competitive worldwide.