U.S. Representative visits county students

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

While Congress is out of session until next week, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland (D-6th District) stopped in Lawrence County Wednesday to talk with students and the media about key issues facing Congress.

The congressman attended the induction of new members of the Junior National Honor Society at Fairland Middle School and then talked with about 60 social studies students at Fairland High School about topics that concern them, including proficiency testing, education, the war and the economy.

"I am impressed with the students I encounter in all the schools," he said. "They are more advanced than I was at that age. When I was a freshman and sophomore in high school I was not thinking about these heavy issues."

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"One student said, 'OK, the war in Iraq is costing us a lot of money but what are you and others doing to make sure our futures are secure and we do not have to pay your debts?,'" Strickland recounted.

"I told her I felt that we should pay our own bills rather than running up big debts and expecting her generation to pick up the responsibility," he said. "I told her that we are accumulating as much debt this year as we did in the first 200 years of our country."

Strickland said he was impressed by the thought many students had given some of the issues. Fairland High School Principal Jonathan Bradley said the visit was definitely worthwhile.

"Some of the kids really enjoyed that face-to-face talk with someone real," he said. "They had some good questions."

Bradley said one student approached him afterwards and told him that he may change his mind about a career

in computers and may look toward politics.

Another issue important to the students he discussed was the No Child Left Behind Act. Strickland said his staff is researching the issue and he is considering sponsoring legislation that would place a stop on the federal testing until Congress provides the funding that was promised.

"Rather than grading the kids, we may need to grade ourselves," he said. "The fact is, we are failing our kids. We are blaming good teachers, conscientious administrators and students who are doing well."

Above all, Strickland said he wants to encourage the public to be pay

attention to issues facing the government and to check voting records to see if politicians, himself included, vote the way they claim to.

"Do not listen to what I and other politicians in office say, watch what we do," he said. "I believe the American people are often misled with words."

Four months into his third term, Strickland talked about focusing on the future.

The House of Representatives and the Senate remain at odds over separate budgets that have a difference of $200 billion in tax cuts.

"These are exceedingly difficult times for our country,"

Strickland said.

The country faces challenges to end the war in Iraq, continue the fight against terrorism, fix the economy, provide seniors with prescription drug benefits, stop cuts to funding for veterans and provide adequate resources for education, he said.

"If we do not solve these problems, the children of today will be forced to deal with problems we have simply passed on to them," he said. "But, I continue to believe that we are the greatest country on Earth and have the ability to solve all these problems if we can muster the will to do so."