Education is the backbone and center stage attraction of our county.
We not only have a renowned school system and a nationally recognized community college, but we also have the highest percentage of adults with post-graduate degrees (31%) in the country. Education is the best investment we can make in the future of our county. For example, supporting a private/public partnership with state funding to provide universal access to pre-kindergarten could have a very high return for Montgomery County. Research shows it has an 8-to-1 return. Long-term studies show benefits for pre-K from higher graduation rates to reducing chance of incarceration. It also has a huge positive impact on workforce productivity. Absences and turnover due to child care issues cost Maryland employers $2.4 billion a year. We must be forward-thinking and support innovative practices to be on the cutting edge of future workforce needs so our students can flourish and our county can produce job-ready employees. Higher-paying jobs and increased economic activity will raise much-needed county funding. IT, technology and health care skills are the largest workforce need in the area, as well as a host of other competencies. Nearly all jobs created since the Great Recession require some post-secondary education including certifications and career training. Stacking industry credentials starting in high school expands opportunities for our students. Investing in education pays out in higher wage earners and increased local income, and attracts businesses and industries that support a high standard of living.
To address the academic gaps and foster greater opportunities for all kids, our county must:
- Encourage high expectations for all students. Support and fund continued cultural proficiency training for staff, and remove barriers to access to higher-level courses.
- Provide universal access to pre-K.
- Support afterschool programs, academic interventions, resources and college coaching for our disadvantaged students to level the playing field with higher-resourced students, especially for students who will be first generation to attend college.
- Provide wraparound services to support struggling families.
- Expand Linkages to Learning and Wellness Center sites to better engage and welcome families, provide community-based services, provide staff to guide families through school and county systems.
- Increase the supply of safe, affordable housing near public transportation so families can put down roots and access jobs to support their households, decreasing student movement between schools.
- Provide incentives for excellent teachers to come to Montgomery County, like housing tax credits and loan forgiveness.
- Commit to a multi-year funding plan with our school system so resources are predictable and can be used most effectively to meet students’ needs.
- Increase affordable mental health options. Many of our students suffer from trauma and need professional support.