On the IssuesArlene's Fighting for the Future
In today’s political environment, we often get caught up in the rancor from our points of view. Yet, education is one issue where it's too important to get misdirected by political noise. The path to success for Alabama students begins with a first-class education. This is an issue that's about our children’s livelihoods and the health of our communities, and it’s something that all Alabamians can work toward together.
It's time we make our state the best place to teach. Educators across Alabama routinely reach into their own pockets to subsidize their classrooms, and they do so because they care about their students. Yet, our state is failing them. A lack of adequate compensation is forcing some of our best and most passionate teachers into retirement or other careers. We must work to reverse the chronic pattern of under investment in our schools, students, teachers and classroom technology.
While some of the challenges to improve education seem daunting, I'm encouraged that much consensus is emerging on which key issues to address. 77& of voters within our state agree that there are critical differences in the quality of education available for students across the state.
Of these voters, an overwhelming majority would support policies to address these differences. Now is the time to develop a long-term vision for improving education so that many more children succeed in school and life.
Many students will not know what to do after high school. Let’s work together to build a much stronger bridge from high school into college, career training and jobs. By expanding workforce trade programs, we can give our youth hands-on experience in careers that bring real-world job scenarios into the classroom. We can rebuild our workforce and lay the foundation for economic growth and development for years to come. The goals may seem ambitious, but so are our young people, and they deserve nothing less than an education agenda that is at least equal to their talent and drive.
Alabama's health ranking is 43rd in the nation, up four positions in the last two years, but we still have work to do. It's time to address state disparities in the Alabamians who went without care because of cause; a rising number of deaths from suicide, alcohol and drug use; and persistent increases for out-of-pocket spending.
We must support commonsense approaches to control rising healthcare costs while ensuring all residents have access to quality care. That includes an emphasis on preventive care to reduce long-term costs and increased access to mental health treatment options, as well as expanding Medicaid to shore up rural hospitals and rural healthcare providers. It's time to support viable and feasible measures to strengthen existing programs that assist our most financially vulnerable citizens, including Medicaid.
The globalization of markets is accelerating the diffusion of technology and the pace of innovation across America. New occupations are emerging and replacing others, and within each occupation, required skills and competencies are evolving. We cannot ignore this trend any longer.
Our economy is changing, and we must work to anticipate and respond to these changes by ensuring that businesses have access to a skilled workforce with the human capital they need to thrive.
Our workforce is comprised of a richly diverse set of people—including youth, adults, men and women; people of all cultures and races; people who are low-income or of limited educational background; disconnected youth; people with disabilities; returning service members, veterans and their families; dislocated and older workers; and people who have been involved with the justice system.
As state representative for District 104, I will support development of programs that are aimed at creating skills that can help all of these workers train for emerging jobs, continue to learn on the job, and advance in careers that help them support their families and pursue their personal dreams.
Middle-skill jobs account for 59% of our labor market, but only 47% of state workers are trained to the middle-skill level. This skill gap keeps our economy from growing and employers from hiring.
As state representative for District 104, I will support legislation that focuses on making workforce training and development a cornerstone to equip today's workers with the skills they need for the jobs of the tomorrow. It's time to focus on policies that help our businesses grow, create jobs and support and leverage the resources in our own communities.