Published May 2009 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd AN EDUCATIONAL VISIT Earlier this year during a meeting with the new Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, I asked him to visit schools in West Virginia. I was pleased that he not only took my advice, but chose to begin the Department of Education's nationwide 'Listening and Learning' tour in our great state. The purpose of this campaign is for the Secretary to gather information as the Congress moves forward in reauthorizing the 'Elementary and Secondary Education Act,' more commonly known as 'No Child Left Behind.' Beginning this venture in West Virginia was a great opportunity for our state to showcase our talents, and our need to ensure a better education for West Virginia's students.
When we met in my office, I discussed some of the problems West Virginia faces in education: teacher quality and pay; community and technical education; and substance abuse in our schools, to mention a few. Secretary Duncan appeared very willing to work with me to help resolve these threats to excellence in education.
I hope that Secretary Duncan saw first-hand the issues we explored during our meeting, including the difficult challenges facing our teachers, parents, and administrators; and that many of our children who wish to further their education cannot always afford to go to college and need extra help through student financial loans or grants. We both agreed that the temptation of drugs and alcohol our children face every day is a severe problem all across our country.
I like to think that the issues we face in West Virginia are unique, and West Virginians solve them in unparalleled ways. While we are not a wealthy state, we know how to stretch a dollar. We know what it is like to have to tighten up our proverbial boot straps and dive into a problem. When I reflect on my days in a two-room schoolhouse, we did not have computers and high-technology amenities, but the students were disciplined and the teachers were serious about their work. I was afforded the opportunity to obtain a good education, and I believe we owe the same opportunities to our young people today. And after his visit to West Virginia, I stand ready to work with Secretary Duncan to help provide the necessary tools to build a brighter educational future for our children.
May 27, 2009