As any politician will tell you, our children are our future and it is our responsibility to ensure that they have the best opportunities to succeed in life. But the fact of the matter is far too many Georgia children are left behind by current education policies. Affluent urban and suburban communities have thriving, successful schools, while rural and lower-income communities see their schools – and their children – suffer.

The current school funding formula ties school funding to the wealth of its immediate community. This is a regressive formula that ensures the wealthiest Georgians have access to the best educations, while smaller, rural communities and low-income areas do not have the funding necessary to properly educate their kids. This results in children who are less prepared for life after high school, and these children are stuck with low-income jobs, perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Changing school funding formulas to one based strictly on student populations in a school will ensure that all children have access to a high-quality education.

Furthermore, we must provide opportunities for the most gifted children to grow their capabilities. This means ensuring that AP courses are available for all students, something rural areas severely lack. While some politicians will tell you success is about the effort you put in, the reality is that for far too many students in our state do not have access to the courses they need to put their effort in. This is something I am committed to fixing.

Finally, we must ensure that our children are educated and prepared not for the job market of today, but for the job market of tomorrow. This will require investment in higher education. I will fight to expand the HOPE Scholarship – and I will go beyond simply restoring it to its original form. I will fight to allow HOPE to pay not just for college and university educations, but for technical schools and trade schools. I will fight for a HOPE grant to assist young adults entering apprenticeships to allow them to focus on learning their trades instead of worrying about how to put food on the table. Not all jobs require a college degree, and college is not for everyone – that is why it is imperative that we support other pathways to careers. This expansion of HOPE will help prepare a highly skilled Georgia workforce while simultaneously reinforcing the dignity and respect of all careers in this state.

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