In exchange for my military service, I had the opportunity to attend Bates College at no cost. I believe we must provide more students with opportunities to serve our country in exchange for education opportunities. That’s why I am proposing a universal service program. In exchange for two years of service – whether it’s with AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America, the military and National Guard, or another service organization altogether – students should receive a two-year education benefit. I believe young people would gain from this experience, and our communities would benefit from their hard work.

Equally as important, I believe high-quality, early childhood education is one of the best investments Maine can make. All children should have access to universal pre-kindergarten or Head Start. Children who attend pre-kindergarten have higher graduation rates, and are less likely to repeat grades, require special education, or find themselves in trouble with the law when they are older.

It is critical to our democracy that we remain committed to our public education system. Teachers deserve better pay and benefits, and the government should let teachers teach – rather than burden classrooms with more mandates and excessive testing.

Ultimately, an investment in education means an investment in our economy, and in our democracy. We must prepare young people to be informed citizens, so we can continue to have strong communities and a vibrant exchange of ideas.

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