Press Release: NDPPAC Higher Ed Event Highlights Extremist Overreach vs. Fresh Ideas
February 21, 2012
Richmond, VA – The New Dominion Project PAC today hosted a panel discussion on innovation, job creation, and growth in Virginia featuring Mike Signer, Chair, NDPPAC, Sen. Barbara Favola, Sen. John Edwards, and Dak Hardwick of the Harris Corporation at the General Assembly Building.
In a lively discussion that highlighted the power of fresh progressive ideas to overcome the gridlock and overreaching in Richmond today, the panelists and audience members, including 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” that recommends five “Principles for Reform” (summarized below).
QUOTES FROM EVENT
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.”
Sen. Barbara Favola:
“There is no topic more worthy of our attentions here in the Legislature than education, but we have shortchanged public education in our budget….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 John Edwards:
“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. ”
SUMMARY OF NDP STRATEGY PAPER
§ Principle #1: Core Curricula: STEM, Liberal Arts, Civic Education, Entrepreneurship
o These comprehensive curricular strategies will equip students to be strong, self-reliant, engaged citizens for the future.
§ Principle #2: Increase Central Skills
o Jobs won’t only be created in high-tech industry such as biotech; industries such as infrastructure and manufacturing require training in these core skills.
§ Principle #3: Innovate Education
o We need to move beyond formal credit-hour requirements toward more useful skills and co-locate business incubators with community colleges and public colleges and universities.
§ Principle #4: Strengthen Public Education
o Government is the essential player in public education and we must protect public funding, fight for our fair share of federal research dollars, and fight unfair tuition increases.
§ Principle #5: Enhance Regional Cooperation
o We need to further connect the “Urban Crescent” and rural areas with a new “Sister Cities” approach, increase research partnerships, and finally create Southside University.