Democratic Candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) took to the Power Stage at the 2019 Essence Festival to remind us all about the importance of education when it comes to transforming the economy and creating a better future.
“There was a time in America when Public Education was the wind at our back in transforming our economy but today, taken as a whole, our education system is reinforcing the income inequality that we have, not liberating people from it,” Bennet told the crowd Saturday morning.
Income disparity and access, Bennet pointed out, are the main issues when it comes to the quality of education a child receives. And unless everyone has access, “equal is not equal,” as he pointed out.
“When one group of children has access to preschool and the other through no fault of their own does not, when one group has access to $1 million house and therefore a quality K-12 education and the other does not, when one group has access to tutors and counselors and parents who went to college themselves and the other does not then even equal is not equal and we need to make a change,” he said.
“The best predictor of the quality of the education you’re going to have is the zip code you are born into,” Bennet, who was the superintendent of Denver Public Schools for almost four years, added, “And as a school superintendent I met kids who woke up at 5:30 in the morning to take three buses across town to a better school, who came to class exhausted because they worked a night shift, I know parents who speak with tears in their eyes about the gap between their child’s potential and what they’re able to learn in school.”
Bennet touched on the importance of making sure that every child in America has access to preschool and K-12 schools that Senators would want to send their own children to. He also touched on the issue of being able to attend college without sending families into crippling debt, and access to training programs for those few who don’t go to college.
“We need to start paying our teachers like the professionals that they are,” he added. “This may seem obvious to everybody here but we’re doing almost none of it.”
“[The children] have a reasonable expectation that we’re going to do our job to make sure we’re not the first generation of Americans to leave less opportunity not more to the people coming after us,” Bennet said as he wrapped up his speech. “That what we must do in this election. We must beat Donald Trump, begin to govern this country again and create an education system that works for everybody in America, not just the wealthy few.”