Question from Ron Barber: Earlier this year, you stated that you want to get the federal government out of education. Right now, the state of Arizona receives roughly $2 billion in federal funding for student loans, grants and cutting-edge research each year, and roughly $800 million for K-12 education. How do you propose to make up for the loss of those investments in the next generation and the loss of nearly $3 billion in our state's economy?
I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my passion and commitment to education since Mr. Barber, as with many other issues in this campaign, is misleading the voters about my position. Education is personal to me. Having lost my father at age 12, the opportunities I have had to make a difference and serve have resulted from my strong education and an upbringing that placed high value on education. My father was the chairman of the school committee for the public schools that I and my four siblings attended. After he died, my mother - suddenly a widow with five children - went back to school and served as an educator until she retired at 77.
As I travel the district and speak to teachers, parents and school administrators, they convey the frustrations and dysfunctions of the federal government's "No Child Left Behind" law. This law created unfunded mandates, teaching to the test and too much time required to comply with bureaucratic procedures. This is not going to improve our kids' education or teach them to think critically.
Our education is our future. When I served as a professor of national security studies at the Marshall Center, I would teach my students that a strong education system for boys and girls is the pathway to progress, stability and peace. The same is true here in America. We currently rank 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math in the world, and the trends are going in the wrong direction. Something needs to change.
Education for our kids should not be dictated by Washington bureaucrats but by local experts with parent involvement and rewards for excellence. Hard-earned middle-class-taxpayer money should not go to D.C. to strip funds off the top, then return to the states with conditions, paperwork and mandates resulting in cookie-cutter educational recipes.
We also need to fight to bring the cost of college down so kids can attend without going into extraordinary debt. This challenge is particularly acute right now as 50 percent of college graduates cannot get a job to survive and start paying back loans.
I will fight to stop Washington, D.C., from trying to micromanage our classrooms, while taking steps to ensure college is affordable, student loans are available, and important research dollars come to our world-class University of Arizona. This will take leadership and that is what I bring.
Martha McSally is the Republican candidate in District 2, which includes much of Tucson, plus Vail, Green Valley, Sahuarita and Southeastern Arizona.