What about education in this country? I know that Sen. Lieberman is for a voucher plan. What is your perspective?
One of the things I've enjoyed doing over the last couple of years is teaching a course up at an inner city high school in Bridgeport, Connecticut on how to start your own business. We get successful entrepreneurs, mentors, folks from the community involved in the school and it gives kids something to dream about, something to inspire them, something to believe that they can learn again.
I get a couple of messages out of that. One, I believe in a strong community public school system. Anything that distracts from that is a step in the wrong direction and does a disservice to our kids. And two, we've got to get the community involved in our schools. We need more parents, we need more coaches, we need more drama students, more drama instructors to help these kids, get them back into the classroom, to get them to believe that they can do it. We really are not doing that right now for our kids, and we really cannot afford to leave them behind.
I teach in a 50-year-old inner city public school, and I know that quality public education is our best hope for providing every child the best opportunity in life—and the key to the competitive future of our country.
The answer is neither more standardized tests nor vouchers. We need to support universal pre-school to give kids a head start and offer their parents the best chance at providing for the household. We need trained, talented, and motivated teachers. We also need to provide parents and communities the support they need to assure that children start their school day ready to learn. We need schools that don’t close at 3 p.m. but are open to meet the real needs of the community, including arts and sports, tutoring, health care, activities for parents and families.
What our country spends in one year in Iraq could provide a year’s free tuition at the University of Connecticut for every college freshman-aged American and Head Start for every four-year-old. We need to refocus our resources and our attention on the children and young people here.
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