Guest Op-Ed: Time to Equip Our Schools for a Sustainable Future

By Lydia Edwards

My education changed my life, opened up opportunities, and created a bridge to a better life. Thanks to the educational opportunities I received, I was able to graduate from college and went on to become the first lawyer in my family. We need to invest in education at all levels to ensure that today’s students are able to receive the same opportunities that I did and that they’re able to do so in clean, safe environments. As your state senator, I will build on the work I’ve done on the Boston City Council and help provide those opportunities to students and families throughout the district.

In today’s economy, not every high school graduate wants or needs to attend a four-year university to have a good-paying, dignified career. We need to continue to create pipelines and build the middle class by providing apprenticeship programs and job training opportunities in our high schools. I was proud to fight for a project labor agreement to ensure that Suffolk Downs will be built by workers with good union jobs for its entire 20-year buildout. During my time on the city council, I also started the Edwards Empowerment Fund, a scholarship honoring the Maverick Street Mothers who fought against airport expansion, for working parents to go to beauty school, ESL classes, nursing programs, higher education, and other job training opportunities. These are the types of opportunities I hope to continue providing on Beacon Hill.

Additionally, early childhood education is vital to ensure parents can work and to put kids on the right path to educational success. High costs make daycare and preschool inaccessible to many working families. We must invest in daycare and early childhood education so families don’t have to choose between paying the bills and investing in their child’s future.

Education is also about having safe places to learn. Too many of our schools have chemical hazards, environmental risks, and even structural shortcomings. It’s time to move beyond getting asbestos out of the ceilings, and time to equip our schools for a sustainable future. We must also ensure that all schools have functioning HVAC systems and clean drinking water for students and staff.

We need a champion for public education in the state senate who has done the work and recognizes what remains to be addressed. I am proud to be endorsed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and Boston Teachers Union, as well as school committee members throughout the entire district including: Ayesha Wilson, Rachel Weinstein, and Manikka Bowman in Cambridge; Suzanne Leonard, school committee member-elect Winthrop; and Stacey Rizzo of Revere. I’m committed to working with them, parents, teachers, and education advocates throughout the district and state to make sure everyone has access to excellent public school education regardless of what neighborhood or city they live in.

I’m under no illusion that transformative change will be an easy lift; it won’t. But if we don’t start now then we are doing a disservice to the next generation and the generations after. I learned firsthand about the power of educational opportunities and will work on Beacon Hill to help provide those same opportunities to all residents of the First Suffolk and Middlesex district.

Lydia Edwards is a City Councilor and candidate for State Senate.

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