ICYMI: Aguilar Pens Op-ed in the Redlands Daily Facts on the Need to Support Education

September 11, 2014

San Bernardino, CA – Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 31st district, published an op-ed in the Redlands Daily Facts discussing his support for education, one of the pillars of his Middle Class Initiative.

The op-ed can be seen here or read below.

Putting Education First Again

By Pete Aguilar

Of all of the things we can do as a country to build our middle class, education is the most important.

Our children are the future, and we owe it to them to make sure they are prepared for a global economy.

As the father of two young boys, and someone who benefitted from Pell Grants to get through college, this is personal.

I was able to get where I am today because of public schools, federal grants and access to student loans.

We need to fight to make sure every kid has that same shot at success.

A quality education needs to start early.

We know that children who miss out on early childhood education struggle to catch up later on. Access to Head Start programs shouldn’t depend on how much money a child’s parents have. We can do better than that.

The federal government can play an important role in ensuring that every child gets off on the right track.

And as our kids move on to secondary school, the federal government needs to work in concert with state and local educational systems so that kids get the best outcomes.

This means robust federal funding and striking the right balance between local control and accountability.

Teachers, some of the hardest working and most generous people in our communities, need to be paid well and supported in the classroom.

Updated textbooks, computers and developing a 21st century curriculum to prepare each child for the workforce are all a part of that equation. If we invest in our schools, we are making a precious investment, not just in the lives of our children, but in the future of our economy.

Access to a quality secondary education is a right every child deserves, but in this day and age, most parents understand that for their kids to get a good paying job, they will need to pursue some type of higher education.

In order to develop a skilled and diversified workforce, we must first develop a diversified system of higher education.

Four-year colleges and universities are the right fit for some students, but others will find success in a more specialized environment.

Technical training and workforce development are key components, as are quality community colleges that provide associate degrees in critical industries like health care and computer science.

Whether you attend a private university, one of California’s elite public schools or an individualized technical program, every student should have access to the support they need to pay their way.

Pell grants and student loans are critical for students who face financial challenges, many of whom are the first in their family to get a college education.

We need to strengthen funding for Pell grants and make sure additional federal grants are accessible.

And when grants aren’t enough, and a student is faced with having to take out a loan, there needs to be a system of fairness in place.

As someone who is still paying off my own student loans, I understand how daunting it can be to enter the workforce with debt.

We need to reform our student loan system so that no young person leaves school drowning in debt that prevents them from starting a family or buying a home.

We face many difficult challenges as a nation, and there are always differing opinions on how to solve them. But when it comes to educating our children, we can all agree that they deserve the best, and we should put our resources into delivering for them.

Let’s work across the aisle, put politics aside, and give our kids the best education system in the world. They are counting on us.

Pete Aguilar is mayor of Redlands and a candidate for California’s 31st Congressional District.

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