Minnesota’s economic strength is tied directly to the strength of our education systems. As a former teacher and the spouse of a public school educator, I know that there is no more important job than preparing our youth for the future. As a father, I want all southern Minnesotan children to have access to the many pathways to success their life can take from birth to post-secondary education. In Congress, I will fight to maintain strong public education and create better alignment with opportunities in our workforce to help Southern Minnesota economically thrive.
In Southern Minnesota in particular, our agriculture, healthcare, and manufacturing industries reach markets around the world. This connection to the global economy affords us the opportunity to drive economic output and world markets, but it also makes us vulnerable to the ever-changing advances in technology and workforce capacity. My vision is for us to not only remain competitive, but to lead. In order to do this, we must be focused on what tomorrow’s landscape looks like and develop an education and workforce system that prepares us for success.
80% of the jobs in 2025 don’t even exist yet. We must be forward looking in how we build our education and workforce development apparatus to meet future demand. If we are going to compete in a rapidly evolving, global marketplace we must take action now to ensure our youth today will be successful in this emerging economy. In Congress, I will lead in the following areas:
Early Childhood Education
- Accessibility: I support Early Childhood Education as a pathway that gives our children every advantage to develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually. I will work to ensure that there are multiple affordable options for preschool for families within their home communities.
- Low cost: I will pursue policies in Congress to ensure that our early childhood educators, especially our child care providers, can still provide critical services at a low cost. I will also work to control the costs of childcare for our working parents, who shouldn’t have to break their bank before their children even start school.
- Alignment with our economy: I believe that our K-12 education system must prepare our children to be adaptive learners throughout their life in a rapidly evolving economy. Our children must have access to STEM, to the arts, to coding, and to the power that internet connectivity and technology brings to the classroom.
- Building partnerships: As a Congressman, I will encourage partnerships between local labor, businesses, technical schooling, apprenticeships, as well as 2 and 4-year degree programs so that each child can be exposed, from an early age, to the many opportunities that already exist right here in our communities. This isn’t just true in manufacturing, but also in healthcare, IT, agriculture, logistics and transportation, aviation, and more. We can be doing a lot more in our education system to help students and their families identify multi-directional educational pathways that can lead to any number of high-wage, high-growth job opportunities available in our communities. There are great models for this youth engagement in our community today, and we know them very well – we know them as FFA and 4-H. Let’s take what we know to be great youth engagement strategies for careers in agriculture, and replicate these models across other industries.
- Hands-on training: Let’s teach our kids how to think on their feet and problem solve, how to work in teams and as part of a larger group, expose them to the wonders of modern technology and give them the opportunity to try working with their hands. In Germany, at the age of 10, every student is required to participate in an internship. This shapes their futures well beyond the classroom where they spend the majority of their lives, in the workplace. For this reason, Germany prides itself on one of the lowest youth unemployment rates, where in the U.S. it stands at double that of the national average. We must do better.
- Supporting teachers: Great teachers are the lifeblood of our educational system. As the husband of a public school union teacher, I know this well. It’s crucial that we recruit, develop, and retain a strong and diverse teacher workforce. I believe that every classroom must be led and empowered by teachers that are set up for success and compensated for the public service they provide. I will work on creative solutions to recruiting teachers in shortage areas such as STEM, special education, and in our rural communities. I will also support efforts in Congress to make sure teachers can sharpen their skills through ongoing professional development.
Higher Education and Workforce Development
- Post-secondary affordability: When our children pursue a post-secondary education, whether a four-year degree or otherwise, it must fulfill the promise of career enhancement without saddling them with debt. In Congress, I will support legislation that caps student loan rates, that expands the job pathways to loan forgiveness, and will work with all higher education to demand transparency when their prices rise. Our future economy requires our children to be lifetime learners, and we must make sure that every experience they have in education encourages this.