In Arlington and Fairfax, we have two of the best school systems in the United States. Due to the excellent work of our teachers, parents, school boards, lawmakers and other community leaders, we consistently graduate students with high test scores who go on to top colleges across the nation and around the world. Stephanie applauds the work of all these local stakeholders in building and maintaining such high standards for education. In Richmond, she will bring this commitment to high-quality education to every corner of the Commonwealth.
In order to attract, maintain and build quality jobs and a strong economy in Virginia, we need to have an educated workforce on par with or better than our global competitors. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, pre-kindergarten education not only has been shown to improve student performance in the short term, but it has also been proven to be a high-yield economic investment in the long term, providing a strong foundation for a global, knowledge-based economy.
Other benefits of pre-K education include:
• Increased literacy rates
• Improved behavior in and out of school, including lower chances of committing crimes
• Higher test scores throughout their schooling
• Lower risk for placement in special education programs
While the current Virginia Preschool Initiative has improved the education of at-risk four-year-olds, we need to ensure that all Virginians have access to pre-K education. Right now, we still rank in the bottom half of the United States in access to pre-K education for 4 year-olds. We can do better. That's why the first initiative Stephanie will champion in the House of Delegates is the creation of a universal pre-K program in Virginia. This program will put us on a path to join the top education states in America in measures of achievement including higher literacy and graduation rates, thereby providing opportunity to children who would otherwise start school far behind their peers.
By returning basic fairness in our tax code through reinstituting the estate tax on estates worth over $4 million, we can help fund a program critical to our children's education and future success.