Mass. Gubernatorial Candidate: ‘State Has Two Education Systems’

Despite his Republican affiliation, candidate for Massachusetts state governor Charlie Baker shares many of the same views as his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley.  He is pro-choice, he supports same-sex marriage, wants to raise the minimum wage, and believes that the American Dream of a successful life is becoming less accessible to the average person because of educational barriers, reports Tom Keane for The Boston Globe.

 His acceptance speech at the Republican convention closed with a litany of those left behind: “single moms,” “parents who need good schools,” those facing “the sky-high cost of a college education” and people “who live on fixed incomes.” At a forum in late May he voiced a “two Americas” message reminiscent of one-time vice-presidential nominee John Edwards: “I think the most important thing we need to realize is that we very much have two economies, we have two educational systems, and we have two kinds of communities.”

Baker has big plans for the state’s education department, which he believes would reduce costs for students while creating more opportunities to learn, thus helping bridge the gap between the upper and lower classes, and coming one step closer to solving the ever-growing issue of “income inequality”, according to an article posted by the State House News Service.

Baker believes Massachusetts needs to lower the cost of higher education in order to keep more young professionals in the area.  At University of Massachusetts schools alone, tuition rates have climbed by more than 80% in the past decade, causing many students to attend college in other areas with a lower cost of living.

In an effort to “shrink both the time and expense of a college degree”, Baker is proposing offering college courses to high school students, as well as combining year-round classes with online courses.

Baker is also proposing co-op programs be offered, or in some cases expanded, enabling students to gain college credit while working for local employers.

In an interview with Laura Hutchinson for WWLP News, Baker discussed offering a three-year bachelor’s degree program in an effort to save students time and money.  Baker said:

“I think the Commonwealth ought to have a three-year degree program as part of its offering on every level for kids,” Baker told 22News. “If they want to go in three years, I think we ought to be able to let them do that, and that will save that child’s cost of education by 25%.”

All of this, Baker believes, will help to recreate the middle class, which is slowly shrinking into oblivion.  If more young adults are able to find a job, there will be less income inequality.  And it all starts with a college degree.

According to the latest polling data available from RealClearPolitics, Baker trails Coakley by roughly 9 points in the gubernatorial race.