I have the incredible honor of wearing two hats in our community. I serve as your state senator, and I am continuing to volunteer on the Lake Oswego School Board. Last week, I had the opportunity to shake hands and congratulate nearly 500 students as they walked across the stage to accept their high school diplomas.
As I listened to their graduation speeches, I reflected on the challenge we have as a state and country to collectively do more to support this next generation.
I find our students possess awe-inspiring grit and perseverance. Contrary to the common misconception that their generation is addicted to their phones and constantly coddled, they demonstrate creativity and courage, and they are very hard-working.
It is evident that these young leaders are our next doctors and nurses who will care for us. They are the next entrepreneurs and inventors working on solving global climate change. They are the next leaders of the military who will keep us safe. They are the next architects and engineers leveraging technology to provide innovative construction and seismic safety.
As adults, I feel we must do more to support our students on their journeys into college, careers or military service. This is my challenge in the state Senate — to work with our community on finding a way to support the promise of these young adults. Let's come together, invest in these kids and boost their chance at success.
Heading into the next legislative session, I will be working to prioritize student success at every turn.
My first step is ensuring our schools are safe. We need to work together on sensible gun safety legislation, expand mental health services and improve resources such as SAFE OREGON that provide access to early detection of potential mass shootings. I recently was appointed to the statewide Task Force on School Safety. I look forward to working with Oregon State Police Supt. Travis Hampton and Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts, as well as parents, teachers and support staff, on recommendations for legislation to keep our kids safe in schools in 2019.
I am also committed to prioritizing policy efforts to address overdue sexual violence prevention education to ensure all of our kids are safe. And I will continue standing up for diversity, equity and inclusion so all children have the chance to succeed — regardless of their race, religion, socioeconomic status or ability.
Recently, a national publication gave Oregon an "F" for our investments in education. Our schools have never crawled out from under the weight of budget cuts from Measure 5. We need to work together to have the collective courage to address our broken revenue system and find additional resources to support these kids.
In addition to feeling safe in school, our children deserve access to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programs, so that they too have the opportunity to compete in the rapidly changing global economy.
Next year at graduation time, as the tassels move from right to left and the caps are thrown high into the air, and when beaming families provide a standing ovation, I hope we can all say that we have put ourselves on the pathway toward success for all of our students.
Lake Oswego resident Rob Wagner represents Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin and Southwest Portland in the Oregon Senate.
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