David Sanders regards lifelong education as one of the most important aspects of being human. He understands that education has many components and is not limited to formal education. Education begins in the home. The value of charity is inculcated when the Sanders family together distributes money and gifts door-to-door to the less fortunate. David Sanders strives to teach his children about the value of a dollar. He teaches them about comparison shopping, dealing responsibly with credit cards, and saving and investing. He and his wife impart lessons about healthy eating habits, always wearing seatbelts and avoiding addictive substances. The members of the Sanders family often read stories and poetry together. The Sanders enjoy attending plays, concerts, operas, movies and sporting events together. David Sanders doesn’t only talk about the value of the environment. He ensures that his children participate in recycling and conservation activities. The lessons have had their effect. The three Sanders boys are united in insisting that the next family car be a fuel-efficient hybrid. Hiking and camping are favorite family outings. When they travel to cities in the United States and in other countries, the Sanders tend to refrain from renting cars and instead use public transportation. David Sanders feels that this is the best way to meet the local residents and to learn about their lives. It also reinforces for his children the value of learning foreign languages. Museums and historical and archeological sites are visited frequently. For David Sanders, one of the benefits of participation in a political campaign is the education about the political process that it affords his children.
Nevertheless, as a professional educator, Dr. Sanders understands the central role played by formal education. He understands that children do not all have the advantages that financial comfort and a home emphasis upon education can provide. He believes that an excellent American educational infrastructure is critical not only for our economy but also for our society. A strong public education system is essential so that there is equal opportunity in this country. The two most important elements necessary for educational success are morale and commitment—on the part of teachers, students, parents, and administrators. We need as a society to express our respect for educators and to see education as a goal in itself and not just as a means to produce trained workers and consumers.
In terms of policy, we need to restrain unfunded federal mandates for our schools. Tests that are designed to measure student achievement should not be used as weapons to punish schools. Frequently it is the resources of the schools whose students are the most disadvantaged that are diverted because of the No Child Left Behind legislation. States and local school systems throughout America are asking for relief. Dr. Sanders believes that school assessment should be under local control. Determining whether schools are succeeding is best achieved by parents and community members not some federal bureaucracy. Dr. Sanders asserts that educational standards must be maintained and that smaller class sizes are a means towards achieving this goal. He also sees education as an investment and not merely an expense. Education at all levels is the best preventative measure for eliminating the conditions that lead to crime and its cost for society.
Higher education is a gateway to economic achievement. Ensuring that a college education is affordable for all who are committed to benefit from it is a critical element of a rational economic policy. Dr. Sanders advocates expanded programs of financial aid grants and low-interest college loans. Getting health-care costs under control will also be an important step in reducing the rate of increase of college tuitions.
Many of our institutions of higher learning have an important research component to their mission. Continued government support for the discoveries that are the engines of American innovation and economic development is essential.
Many of the challenges that face our society have a scientific or technological basis. Dr. Sanders is the first to admit that not all of our problems have a scientific or technological solution. Nevertheless, it is critical that we have Representatives who have a first-hand understanding of both the power and limits of modern science and technology.