James Thomas

Education

Education is the single most important investment we can make for our future.  That fundamental concept is enshrined in our state constitution:

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

There was a time when a strong back and a willingness to work could provide for a modest lifestyle.  Today one needs a baccalaureate degree to get a job managing a clothing store in a mall. The educational demands for the future will only rise.  Many unskilled and semi-skilled manufacturing jobs have already moved to low labor cost countries. Today it is not unusual for your tax return to be prepared or your X-ray read in India.  China has embarked on the Made in China 2025 initiative that promises that China will produce 70% of its materials and components domestically by 2025 and will dominate emerging technologies such as industrial robotics and green automobiles.  Meanwhile, President Trump stumps for coal and clings to a sepia-toned snapshot of the good old days.

Washington needs to prepare our coming generations for 21st century jobs with a 21st century education.  Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren’t enough.  We need a rich curriculum that includes a range of electives, core classes in the arts as well as the sciences, and a palette of extracurricular activities that will prepare them to lead America and to keep our economy robust in the coming years.

Pre-K through 12 is no longer enough either.  Post-secondary education is now required for virtually all jobs with a future.  The “ample provision” must be recognized to include associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.  The idea of saddling our youth with crippling education debt is as ridiculous as it is counterproductive.  Educating our youth is an investment in our future that will define our future. We can invest in a future of exciting new technologies and life-changing medical breakthroughs, or we can invest in a future of digging coal and being the low-cost workshop for other countries’ developments.  The choice is ours.

For State Representative, 35th District Position 1
Education