New Dominion Project Panel on Higher Education

Richmond, VA – February 21, 2012 – Today, Senator Barbara A. Favola (D - 31) strategized on how the Legislature can put core education policy principals into practice with New Dominion Project panelists Senator John Edwards (D - 21), Mike Signer, Chair of the New Dominion Project PAC, and Dak Hardwick of Harris Corporation, a communications giant who employ 2,000 engineers in the state of Virginia.   

 

In a lively discussion that highlighted the power of fresh progressive ideas to overcome the gridlock and overreach in Richmond today, panelists and audience members, including the leadership of major Virginia organizations such as Virginia 21 and the Business Council for Higher Education for Virginia, discussed a set of principles drawn from a new NDP Strategy Paper titled “The Engine for the Future: Taking Higher Ed to the Next Level in Virginia”.

 

QUOTES FROM EVENT

 

Senator Barbara A. Favola (D-Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun):

On the Budget

“There is no topic more worthy of our attentions here in the Legislature than education, but we have shortchanged public education in our budget. The Governor, in his proposed biennium budget, cuts K through 12 public education to fund transportation, in spite of earlier promises to fix the region’s transportation needs and not compromise funding for core services. This approach hurts education and does not solve the transportation problem. His proposed budget takes $110M away from K-12 education during this biennium and grows the diversion to $500M over the next several years. In the past five years, education funding has been cut dramatically, leading to Virginia falling from 3rd in the nation to 41st in class sizes. Taking money out of our children’s classrooms is an unsustainable quick fix for roads that leaves our transportation problems unanswered and our children suffering. I will not support a budget with these misplaced priorities.”

 

On Early Childhood Education

“A track record of success in higher education goes back to opportunities in early childhood, and that includes Pre-Kindergarten. Analytical skills begin young. Everyone needs access to top notch Pre-K education. If Virginia families have access to Pre-K, Virginia students are more likely to graduate from High School and continue their education at a college or university. I came to Richmond to work to improve Virginia’s schools so we can compete in a global economy. I believe early childhood education is the most important investment we can make to achieve this goal.”

 

On College Grants

“This year, I have introduced legislation that would expand educational grants for students who begin their higher education at community college and transfer to four-year schools. The grant is more generous for those who pursue studies in the science, math, technology, nursing and teaching disciplines. These career paths were chosen because Virginia has a worker shortage in these areas and they are areas where our economy has the potential to grow. Today’s students will find vibrant careers waiting for them tomorrow.”

 

Senator Favola added, “It feels good to bring the focus in this building back to where government belongs, supporting our public schools, and away from where it does not belong, in the family planning decisions made by women and their families.”

 

Mike Signer, Chair, NDDPAC:

“It’s unsettling that all we’re hearing recently from Richmond is about transvaginal ultrasounds and lifting the one-gun-a-month gun ban.  We need to get back on track for our citizens.  Our institutions of higher education are Virginia’s crown jewels, but they’re at risk.  We need to be talking about big ideas, big principles, and big goals.  Our postsecondary system needs to remain the envy of the nation and we need to equip all our students for the challenges of the 21st century.”

 

Senator John Edwards (D-21):

“We must fully fund education from pre-K through university.  We must support universities and research in order to support the economy.  We cannot short-change research and innovation, because they are the future.  In the last six years, for example, the Commonwealth dropped from providing 60% to 30% per pupil funding at Virginia Tech.  Tuition has to make up the difference, burdening students.  This is part of a general trend in the Commonwealth to short-change education.”

 

Dak Hardwick, Harris Corporation:

“In 15 years, your first-grader will be our engineer.  But it’s too hard to find American engineers.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was the largest investment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills in recent years, but it’s running out, so states like Virginia much now pick it up. It’s often hard to find people with good vocational skills in the U.S. Now companies like the Harris Corporation need to train them, raising the cost of doing business in the U.S.  ”

 

UPDATE: 

 

“'There is no topic more worthy of our attentions here in the Legislature than education, but we have shortchanged public education in our budget,' Favola said. 'The Governor, in his proposed biennium budget, cuts K through 12 public education to fund transportation, in spite of earlier promises to fix the region’s transportation needs and not compromise funding for core services. This approach hurts education and does not solve the transportation problem.

 

“'His proposed budget takes $110M away from K-12 education during this biennium and grows the diversion to $500M over the next several years. In the past five years, education funding has been cut dramatically, leading to Virginia falling from 3rd in the nation to 41st in class sizes,' Favola said. 'Taking money out of our children’s classrooms is an unsustainable quick fix for roads that leaves our transportation problems unanswered and our children suffering. I will not support a budget with these misplaced priorities.'"

 

Fairfax News, 2/22/2012

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