The education of our children is the most profound responsibility of county government. As we confront our school system, we must start by asking for more. For too long, we have been tolerant of subpar performance and have accepted results that would be unacceptable in other jurisdictions. But when we settle for less, then we are telling our children that we neither expect nor hope for them to be extraordinary. This is, to borrow a former President’s words, “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” and we must fight it. Our children deserve better and we should demand better. We are blessed to have teachers, administrators, parents, students and neighbors who care deeply about the caliber of our schools, but we can do much more to support them.

As State’s Attorney, I created a truancy reduction initiative called, “I Belong Here.” In partnership with the school system, we identified some of the most truant schools in the county and implemented the program there. We took schools with attendance rates as low as 60 percent and were able to increase them into the high 90s.

Our focus should be on K-12 education, but also on child care services, vocational educational opportunities, college readiness, higher education offerings and training for those who have already joined the workforce. My focus on education will be geared towards focusing on the needs of our students both inside and outside the classroom; by focusing not just on their education needs, but also on what they need to grow as individuals and as members of our community.