An affordable education is a fundamental freedom that must be defended. How can we be free to pursue life and liberty if we’re unable to get an education? We deserve equal access to the tools necessary to succeed in society. Our schools should be inspirational centers of learning. Teachers need more support and better pay. Rural areas need equal access to high speed internet. Those of us who experienced a good public education and gained the tools to succeed are willing to pay a little more in order for our children to have the same opportunities.

Computer programming vocational schools. Ben is a coder and knows both how valuable a skill it is as well as how difficult it is to learn. Virginia has some of the best community colleges in the country, but learning to code requires more than one or two courses. Virginia should be the first state in the nation to offer a two-year, full-time vocational degree dedicated exclusively to teaching students how to write computer code. This will dramatically stimulate the tech sector in our commonwealth, attracting new businesses and generating local high-paying jobs. Learning to code should start in high school, and Ben will work to secure funds for a programming class in every high school.

Freedom to homeschool. Public schools are the backbone of our communities, but Ben supports the rights of parents to home school their children. Ben knows that a classroom environment isn’t for every child, and parents get to make that call. Ben disagrees with Governor McAuliffe’s veto of HB 1578 (the “Tebow Bill”): homeschooled children should have every opportunity for healthy socialization. Ben supports tax deductibility for necessary homeschooling expenses.

Against tax-funded scholarships to private schools. Ben is opposed to charter schools and vouchers. These programs take money away from our public schools. My opponent advocates for virtual classrooms as a solution to school overcrowding, forgetting that he represents a rural district and many of his constituents don’t have access to high speed internet. Let’s make sure we all have equal access to the tools necessary for success.

Trusting our teachers. Ben trusts our teachers, and believes educational decisions should be made by state and local school boards. Ben comes from a family of educators and knows we can trust our teachers and involved parents to do what’s best for each child. When lesson plans are mandated from the top and the classroom teacher and local community are overruled, then our students will suffer. We have to give our schools and teachers the flexibility to innovate. Ben is opposed to common core.

Vocational school and community college for everyone. Ben supports President Obama’s College Promise Plan. An affordable public education is a fundamental freedom. We know a lot more than we used to, so of course a public education should take longer. Those of us who can’t afford community college should be able to get the skills they need to succeed.

IDEA and freedom of education for disabled students. A good education is a fundamental freedom, we don’t lose our freedoms just because we have a disability, therefore to protect freedom for everyone the government must guarantee a real education to every disabled student. Individualized Education Programs, with coordination between involved parents and terrific teachers, ensure that each child gets access to a real education. Ben agrees with Chief Justice Roberts’ recent decision protecting IDEA:

“When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing “merely more than de minimis” progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all. For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to “sitting idly . . . awaiting the time when they were old enough to ‘drop out.’”

Education is about freedom: it’s just that simple.