from the campaign
Ryan Quarles’ Bold Plan for Education
“I hope that we create an education experience where all Kentuckians have an opportunity to become anything they want in life and that starts with creating a world class education system that competes not just at the national level, but internationally as well.”
As the son of a lifelong teacher, I know that education is the great equalizer in America. I was taught at a young age that in this country if you work hard, study, and apply yourself you can become anybody you want to be. Although one’s success is highly dependent upon one’s determination and work ethic, having a quality education system that produces results is essential for a thriving democracy. That’s why education will be a top priority in the Quarles Administration because every Kentucky student deserves an opportunity to succeed.
Teacher retainment and recruitment are top-tier priorities to keep our school systems thriving. It’s no secret that a teacher shortage exists in Kentucky, but retainment of current teachers could be argued as being just as big of an issue as teacher recruitment. I’ve met many teachers on the campaign trail who simply want a great place to work, to be valued, and to have the ability to teach the next generation without burdensome administrative paperwork. That’s why I believe we should work with the Kentucky General Assembly and our school districts to review & enhance pay scales, reduce administrative burdens, and create a culture that focuses on teaching instead of red tape.
However, we all know that creating an attractive work environment results in higher morale and better results. Teachers are trying to do two things: teach and raise other people’s kids who may lack discipline and structure at home. Like many Kentuckians, if I ever acted up in school, I knew that the punishment at home was far worse than what I received at school. We need discipline reform in the classroom so teachers can have better control over the learning environment. I know for a fact many teachers feel helpless with disciplining persistently problematic students in the classroom. Teachers are sometimes ignored, students play on their phones, and a genuine lack of respect exists, making it hard to teach. Let’s fix this and allow teachers the ability to control the classroom environment.
Next, I think parents should have a say in what their children are being exposed to in the classroom. It’s commonsense policy that parents, school districts, and school boards should work harmoniously instead of having adversarial opinions. We don’t need the Biden Department of Justice defining parents as domestic terrorists. Instead what we need is a Governor who respects and prioritizes parental rights and discretion. I am also a firm supporter of homeschooling and programs that support the homeschool community.
We need to heavily promote vocational and trades programs starting from middle school-age up. Employers across Kentucky are desperate for workers who know how to work with their hands and their minds. From complex robotics to electricians, we must promote at a young age the dignity of hard work in our society. Many vocational and trade programs produce starting salaries of $100,000 or more for students willing to learn needed trades. And that’s where our education system needs to better align with the workforce needs across Kentucky. For too long we have told future generations you have to be a doctor or a lawyer to succeed; rather we must respect those who have dirt on their boots and grease on their elbows just as much as those with white collar jobs because that’s what Kentucky needs.
When it comes to higher education, it’s been 26 years since meaningful reform has occurred. I want to lead an effort to make sure that our universities, community and technical colleges, and private institutions, have a clear gameplan for not only the affordability of college but also the relevance of degrees with current employment opportunities. As a former student representative on the Council on Postsecondary Education, I led the fight to reduce tuition hikes and even passed a policy to cap the amount tuition could be raised in any given year across Kentucky. I’ll bring that same eye for affordability to the Governor’s office.
These are just the first of many commonsense starting points that we would address underneath a Quarles Administration. When my mom came home from teaching long days, little did I know how influential she would be on my education experience. Today, I hope that we create an education experience where all Kentuckians have an opportunity to become anything they want in life and that starts with creating a world class education system that competes not just at the national level, but internationally as well.