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As the father of a young son, I know how important—and cost effective—investments in early learning are to the success of our kids. We brought Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Alaska. She was able to visit the Rural CAP Child Learning Center to highlight the importance of increased support for local early learning programs. I have argued against cuts to Head Start programs, and I support more focus on pre-K workforce development.

One of my top priorities is making sure our schools provide Alaska’s children with the education necessary to become highly skilled workers ready to compete in the global economy. I have not supported the No Child Left Behind education law because its one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work for Alaska. We must overhaul this misguided law to support and encourage local control and innovation in our school—where parents, teachers and the community decide education policy, not the federal government.

I introduced legislation for greater investment in science, engineering, math and technology curriculum (STEM) to create a new state grant program to support STEM education and teacher training. We need to focus on middle school students to ensure they have the STEM background to pursue high school, college, and career technical tracks leading to careers critical to Alaska’s future.

The brightest ideas and best innovations come from the local level. That’s why I introduced the Investing in Innovation for Education Act (i3). The i3 Act promotes innovations proposed by school districts and organizations with proven records of improving student success.

Good teachers and good schools are critical to success of a student. My parents, my sisters and even my sister-in-law are teachers. I support legislation to ensure teachers have the training, dollars, housing and flexibility to excel. I supported the more than $10 billion in school construction bonds in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the additional $25 billion included in the current American Jobs Act.

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