Robert Foster on Education
Foster and Waller said the Legislature's recent $1,500 pay raise for teachers was insufficient. Teachers should get a raise every year until their salaries match the southeast average, they concurred. "It has not been a priority of our leadership down (in Jackson) at all," Foster said of teacher pay.
In discussing education, both Waller and Foster said they would commit to a yearly teacher pay raise to reach the southeastern average. At the same time, Foster said while Colleges and Universities do need to be funded appropriately, there needs to be a greater focus on vo-tech training. "I think the biggest issue is that we have put way too much emphasis on trying to send every kid to college," said Foster. "The vast majority of jobs and good paying jobs always have been and always will be career skilled tech positions. We need to be focused on putting the money into vo-tech and career tech training."
A: I don't agree with that. What we need to be doing is putting vo-tech and career tech in high schools where we're already spending a tremendous amount of money. Kids need to have options while they're in high school--while they're fully mature enough to learn skills. They may not know what they want to do for a living, yet, but that's when they need to be exploring options. I mean going to computer classes and learning to program, going to mechanic classes and welding, plumbing, electrical--whatever it is. They need to be learning different trades and skills so that when they figure out what they want to do, hopefully by the time they graduate, they will have had enough course credits that they can go get a job when they graduate.
As a public school graduate and parent, I believe we need to better support the education profession with competitive salaries, opportunities for growth, and reduce the testing burden so our teachers can do what they do best--teach.
Every child and school district is unique, and this must be taken into consideration when developing policies--one size does not fit all. The quality of education a child receives is far more important than which building they receive it in. Charter schools and school choice have their place in certain districts and in certain situations, but we must be very careful that our policies do not unintentionally hurt the communities that have invested so much into their already successful public schools.
"On one hand, it is a free market principle for parents to have the choice," Foster wrote in a comment. "On the other, it is a duplication of infrastructure costs to build more buildings and the government always follows the money so it is not a question of if but when they will follow with rules and regs into private schools. I'm torn over this issue and still listening to this very active debate to try and find some balance."