I believe in a strong public education for all students, regardless of their zip code. As a graduate of public schools, I benefited from a quality education with opportunities to expand my horizons through the arts, sports, and extracurricular activities. However, with the influx of private schools, tax dollars are being taken away from public schools. These funds should be used to provide public educators with the tools necessary to grow young minds. Strong public schools benefit all Hoosiers by helping shape our youth into productive citizens and ensuring that Indiana remains an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family.
I have many friends who are teachers and although they love their students, I have seen the long hours, relentless testing, and lack of adequate compensation resulting in several of them leaving the profession. Teachers are the backbone of our state’s educational system, but their tireless efforts are often unrecognized or under appreciated. I believe teachers should be paid relative to their pivotal role in our society, and no teacher should have to provide meals or supplies from their own pockets.
A college degree has become a prerequisite for most jobs, while at the same time it has become harder for the average Hoosier to afford tuition. In the past 20 years, the cost of in-state tuition to a public university has increased 237 percent. For most people, the only way to afford college is to become saddled with student loans. From paying my own loans to seeing my friends struggle, I understand the burden that large amounts of debt puts on graduates. We often have to decide between homeownership, starting a family, or paying down loans. To address this, I believe the state needs to tie tuition rates to the average inflation rate, as well as offer students the option to refinance loans to the prevailing interest rate. Finally, our legislators need to offer Hoosiers more ways to earn a college degree tuition-free.
For our young Hoosiers to be successful in the classroom, they need to feel safe and protected. When a child is bullied or is hungry, their focus is not on learning and they can struggle. Statistics show that nearly 160,000 students miss school nationwide every day for fear of being bullied. The effects of bullying can have a negative long-term impact on the student being bullied as well as those doing the bullying. We need to promote a positive environment for our students to learn and thrive. While Indiana does have an anti-bullying law, we need to make sure it is strengthened and that schools properly report the instances of bullying. In doing so, we can take proactive steps to provide our students with the environment they need to be the best Hoosiers they can be.