Government 101: Prioritize education

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November 10, 2011

8:37 PM

After months of campaigning, the results are in. Now the question is: What can John Miller (D-1) and Mike Watson (D-93) can do for us?

Each state election winner brings a wide variety of experiences to the table. Miller spent the past four years representing District 1, while Watson adds a bit of local flair with a position on the Board of Directors for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance.

Yet at the end of the day, students don’t care about either politician’s legislative track record or controversial comments. We care about what they can do for us.

Economic recessions hit everyone differently, and everyone can relate something they have given up or had to change. At the College of William and Mary, we are all concerned with one important topic — education.

Just this year, we’ve witnessed preliminary plans go into action to help combat the freeze on professor salary increases. We all hear our parents gripe about the rising cost of tuition, and we all feel our wallets shudder when it’s time to buy books or new technology.

Obviously, there’s a problem. Yes, there’s a recession. Money is tight across the board, but the answer is not to cut funding for schooling. Rather education should be one area which should retain funding. Today’s societal, economical and political problems will be solved by our generation, but for now, we also bear the burdens of today’s issues.

Don’t punish us for the problems of the present and expect us to solve those same problems in the future.
Don’t put us in so much debt that we focus more on our bank statements than on matters of larger significance.

So Miller and Watson, what can you do for us? The stereotypical image of college kids without a dime to spare is more alive today than ever before. The election is over; now it’s time to get to work. What will you do?

Let’s start with Miller. Serving on the Senate Committee on Education and Health, you sit in a prime position to aid the dilemmas of higher education. You have focused on grade school education, with a commendable stance on longer school days and an insightful study of reading scores — a solid start.

Now, I urge you to look into higher education. You support grants for companies to create high-paying “green” jobs; with a focus on higher education, you can help Virginia graduates snag these jobs as opposed to foreign or out-of-state applicants.

Watson, props to your website. It’s adorned with pictures of our campus. No wonder you won. Now that the election is over, it’s high time to repay that beautiful campus that graces your site.

You say you want your children to gain a solid liberal arts education. A great way to ensure that would be to push legislation to support higher education and to create a state budget that would give schools the funds to maintain quality educators.

You boast of your ability to draw in business from outside Virginia’s borders. Work your magic to bring in more out-of-state students to your schools of higher education. Those students higher tuition rates might just be a great solution for schools operating on limited budgets.

Election days are exciting — it’s the horse race of voting. But the real excitement lies in the candidates’ promises of fresh starts and innovative new ideas. Miller and Watson, I am genuinely excited about what each of you can do for this state and this college.

Don’t disappoint me. I can vote now, and I know how close this past election was. With a focus on education, real benefits will emerge. Plus, I know of 6,000 other votes who would really appreciate your attention — not to mention one Griffin. That could be a big endorsement.

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