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McAuliffe, Deeds Unveil Education Plans

Anita Kumar

Two of three Democratic candidates for governor, Terry McAuliffe and R. Creigh Deeds, released proposals this morning to improve Virginia's education system.

McAuliffe told reporters on a conference call that he wants to commercialize more research at the state's universities to allow them to lower tuition costs. His proposal also includes providing a less expensive alternative for the first two years of community college, expanding pre-kindergarten programs, allowing high school juniors to bypass their senior year and go straight to college and increase incentives to attract teachers such as raising salaries to the national average.

"To attract the employers and jobs we want in the future, we need to ensure that Virginia has the best-educated, best-trained, most skilled workforce in the world," McAuliffe said. "Over the past eight years, we've seen steady progress and better results in education. The challenge for the next governor will be to make better use of what we have. That means we have to build more flexibility, more innovation and more creativity into the system."

Deeds announced at a press conference outside the state Capitol a plan that would create an additional 70,000 degrees over the next 10 years for two- and four-year degrees. He proposes creating a rainy day fund to help curb tuition increases during tough economic times, a loan forgiveness for teachers in high-need areas and a state grant for job training. His plan would cost about $78 million in the first year.

"I'm committed to the idea that by the end of my four-year term as governor, we can ensure that every child who has grown up in Virginia, played by the rules, and earned acceptance to one of our colleges or universities, will have the opportunity to attend,'' Deeds said. "Cost should not be the barrier for a Virginian who wants to pursue their dreams of higher education."

Deeds will unveil the proposals at stops around the state today.

By Anita Kumar  |  April 13, 2009; 10:13 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe  
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Terry McAuliffe's plan to "commercialize" more research at Virginia's state universities indicates a facile and naive understanding of higher education and science. If he means that academic research with the potential and need to be developed commercially should be so developed, universities are already keen to do this and have offices devoted to this task. If he means that more university research should be devoted to serving the needs of commerce, turning academic science departments into research arms of private industry, this is already a pernicious trend which has damaged the free and open exchange of research upon which science depends. All too recently, Virginia Commonwealth University's reputation was damaged by such an arrangement with Philip Morris. The notion that encouraging this trend will generate enough revenue to lower tuition for Virginia students is laughable, an empty promise like the claim that businesses will relocate to the state because McAuliffe has their CEOs in his overstuffed Rolodex and they will want to do him a personal favor.

Posted by: yellowhound | April 14, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

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