Candidates should start with school

Published 8:53 pm Monday, August 17, 2009

In a recent meeting with GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, the topic of improving education in Virginia, and specifically Suffolk, was discussed but it appears that Mr. McDonnell and his opponent in November’s election, Creigh Deeds, have more pressing issues.

Both talk about developing jobs along certain corridors and developing sectors for new industry, but the fundamental problem they should first be addressing is education.

Without a strong, well-funded and highly-performing education system, the quality of workers for such new industries and sectors will not be available.

When we have areas with double-digit dropout rates and illiteracy running at mid-30 percent levels, the number one topic for both should be and must be education.

In his interview last week, McDonnell talked of charter schools, setting higher standards and creating a more demanding curriculum; inspiring children to “dream big” he said.

But, when we have systems in place that allow children to drop out so easily with little ramifications how can we hold their feet to the fire and encourage them to “dream big?”

When federal guidelines make it difficult for teachers to do their job and just teach, rather than prepare for the next set of standardized testing, then how we ask them to push their students to “dream big?”

In the end the number one standard we must hold our schools and our elected leaders to is, do they provide quality graduates who help improve and grow their communities? Can their graduates face the difficulties in the world today and offer solutions to those problems?

Those are the questions we have and the solutions we are looking for from our leaders. We just hope they have the answers.