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Op-Ed: Ensuring a solid education today for a bright future tomorrow

WASHINGTON, September 6, 2022—Below is a commentary article by Tiffany Smiley, the 2022 Washington State Republican Party’s endorsed candidate for the United States Senate, on her priorities for education:

“New numbers this week show test scores plummeted as children were kept home from school. . . Was it a mistake to keep children home from school for so long during the pandemic?” When Dana Bash asked Senator Murray that straightforward question on Sunday the response was clear- she doesn’t. Now, with national statistics showing that average reading scores have dropped 5 points and math dropped 7 points, it should be obvious to all that the road back will
require hard work and a new trajectory.

This week, my campaign unveiled our “Agenda for Education Recovery and Reform” – proposals intended to help schools get back to the basics of reading, writing and math while making sure parents can take an active role in their children’s education.

Distance and remote learning showed the holes in our education system. Now, more than ever, we must expand school choice so that low-income families have the same opportunities to seek out quality education for their children. By allowing federal education dollars to follow the student, we would ensure that a quality education isn’t tied to a family’s ability to buy an expensive home in a good school district or pay twice for their children’s education. The benefits of expanding school choice are numerous and include increasing parental involvement, giving students an education tailored to their needs, improving overall school
quality by introducing competitive pressure, and making our schools more accountable to the parents they serve.

Additionally, the years of remote learning made parents more aware of what their children are being taught, and renewed interest in the decisions made by school boards. I believe that parental involvement is crucial to the success of not only our children, but our schools. I will ALWAYS support the rights of parents to have a say in what their children are taught. To that end, I will support curriculum transparency and restrict the teaching of divisive ideologies, like Critical Race Theory, at the elementary level. Additionally, we need to expand K-12 STEM programs so that our children develop skills that will propel them to success and give them a
competitive advantage in future job markets.

The goal of education is to prepare America’s youth to participate and contribute to society as adults. Attending college is certainly one avenue to success, but it is time to end the stigma associated with not attending college. I will work for programs that allow high schools to provide greater exposure to the trades through apprenticeships and work/credit opportunities. Trades are an undervalued yet critical element of the economy, and as the older generations
retire we are seeing many of these jobs left vacant. Trade salaries often meet or exceed the national average, with many employers in the industry providing training for their employees through work and apprenticeship programs. The path to success does not require being saddled with thousands of dollars in student loan debt!

This debt was brought to the forefront of the national conscience with President Biden’s “forgiveness” plan. The reality of that decision was nearly $1 trillion in additional spending. A personal choice to voluntarily take on debt should not be paid for by people who made different choices. What makes America a wonderful place to live is that educational opportunities are available to all as are the ways to realize that education – working part time through college, doing general education classes at a community college, working and saving before enrolling or signing up to join the Armed Forces and earning your degree through
service. To say that debt is the only way to a college degree is inaccurate, and I will work to ensure that the federal government never again penalizes one segment of society to pay for the choices of another.

Finally, I want to ensure that our teachers earn a salary that is commensurate with the important work they do. The average salary of a Washington teacher is $79,000 while bureaucrats working for the Department of Education earn an average salary of $126,000. I propose increasing the pay for our teachers in the classroom, because bureaucrats who don’t spend any time in the classroom are not more valuable than those that spend their career trying to ensure that America’s youth are prepared to thrive in their adult lives.

My agenda will ensure that there is hope on the horizon for Washington’s students, parents and teachers. Our system must work to meet the unique needs, talents and challenges of all so that a bright future awaits everyone!

Content Source: Commentary by U.S. Senate Candidate Tiffany Smiley

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