Our best hopes for our children’s future and our nation’s wellbeing rest heavily on the quality of our education system. The world in which I went through Bristol County public schools no longer exists. In today’s world, the industries in which Americans can be competitive require technological expertise and adaptable knowledge workers.
While Bristol County’s unemployment rate is at 9%, 200,000 jobs in Massachusetts are unfilled because there are insufficient workers with the skills needed to do them. And the unemployment rate for those with a college education is half the average unemployment rate.
Having spent my professional life as a college teacher, counselor, and member of the Swansea School Committee, I’ve had a front-row seat on changing educational needs, and how we are or aren’t meeting them. I know that we can do better.
Some may ask what a legislator has to do with education. The founders of Western Civilization and our earliest democracy understood this responsibility. Aristotle wrote, “The legislator should direct his attention above all to the education of youth."
Our nation’s founders grasped Aristotle’s meaning above as well. Benjamin Franklin argued that government’s investment in public education “always pays the best interest.” Yet funding rates are dropping at a time when quality education is needed more than ever before. The economy’s and democracy’s future depends on workers and citizens who can think critically.
In 1776, John Adams wrote that, "Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant."
Today, our challenge is not to spend extravagantly, but to spend wisely. Increasing funding levels are not, by themselves, sufficient to increase educational outcomes. And in the 21st Century, fulfilling Aristotle’s admonition that legislators direct their attention to education requires just that—a rigorous investigation of what 21st Century citizens and workers need to learn, an efficacious plan to teach them, and the funding required to implement it.
Achieving these objectives requires a legislator not just to legislate, but to lead.
As state representative, I will bring the message to Beacon Hill that all of us must advocate for critical discussions around the future of education funding in an era of high expectations. We need to use collaborative and innovative ways in finding additional resources, use our grant writing abilities through the power of regional cooperation in doing so, and create more support and strengthen services for mobile and challenged students through improved inter–agency cooperation.
I will ensure that the progress I have helped make as an elected member of the Swansea School Committee will be brought to the whole district. In so doing, we will become a national leader and participant in sustainability, energy, inventory control, educational evaluation, student achievement and transparency in the way our schools are run.
As part of my educational support to our district, I will
1) conduct a study to determine what resources are necessary and adequate to provide the programs and services students and schools need to meet the Commonwealth’s education standards.
2) raise the foundation budget to provide adequate funding to recruit and retain teachers, reduce class sizes and provide early education in the public schools to better prepare students to meet the state standards and help narrow the achievement gap.
3) support collective bargaining rights for all public school teachers and support personnel, including employees in charter schools and chronically underperforming schools.
4) see that each school system in our district has a clear position on energy. We need to become less reliant on fossil fuels and less bogged down, politically and economically, upon a dependency on foreign oil. I believe that every gallon of oil that we save represents a true act of American patriotism. We can establish alternative systems of electricity, solar for instance, and lessen our demand on the use of energy.
I will help develop a 4th Bristol District Education Summit, in which our communities can sit down together and discuss ways of making intellectual improvements, especially through increasing academic rigor based on actual student and faculty data regarding student progress and the professional development of faculty.
I do not separate 47% of our people into a separate caste system that is untouchable because they are victims, entitled to government handouts and are a drain on our society. To do so is the worst side of elitism. We are not a government whose sovereign powers rest in a small group of people: we are a democratic society, a republic, in which all of us stand together “with liberty
and justice for all”.
Our forebears understood that the primary purpose of our society was in educating the young. I wish to continue this legacy and spirit of service they have imparted to us today.
For almost four and a half decades, I have helped young people and their families achieve their dreams in life. I will do no less as your next State Representative.
I am running for office because we need more independent leaders with vision who can collaborate with others in restoring the strength of our public schools and in helping them be the best in the world.
A. Keith Carreiro is a candidate to be the Massachusetts State Representative from Rehoboth, Seekonk, Precincts 4 and 5 of Swansea, and Precincts 1 and 2 of Norton. Keith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.