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Townsend lists Gore agenda on education

October 06, 2000

Townsend lists Gore agenda on education



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend came to Martinsburg Thursday to outline Al Gore's priorities for public education if the Democrat is elected president.

But Townsend said she also came to listen to the concerns of local educators, and they didn't hold back.

Teachers talking with Townsend at a brief roundtable discussion at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library said they were worried about a looming teacher shortage and a lack of money to carry out programs.

Bob Fuegi, a technology teacher at Hedgesville High School, said he thinks elected officials work hard to get the funding schools need to run their programs. But the money is distributed so many ways that often there is little left by the time it reaches the classroom, Fuegi said.

"It gets hung up in administrative costs. It never gets down to the boys and girls and the teacher in the classroom," said Berkeley County teacher Thomas Fletcher.

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Berkeley County's school system is rapidly expanding to meet the needs of the growing population and Jackie Long said she has been at "wit's end" trying to find enough service personnel to fill jobs such as secretarial and cook.

Long, the former head of the school system's service personnel association, is a secretary in the Berkeley County Board of Education office.

In an effort to give growing school systems the resources they need, Townsend said Gore has pledged to hire 100,000 new teachers across the country. The plan is similar to President Clinton's successful effort to put 100,000 new police on the streets, which has been followed by the lowest crime rate in a generation, Townsend sad.

"I think we can do the same thing in education," Townsend said.

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush may say he is committed to quality education, but his numbers "just don't add up," Townsend said.

For every dollar Gore would spend on education, Bush wants to put $5 toward tax cuts for the richest 1 percent of the population, Townsend said.

"I think they want to do the right thing, they just haven't. We have a real choice in this campaign. If we don't have the dollars ... we won't have good schools," Townsend said.

Three Berkeley County students sat at the table with the teachers and Townsend.

Jamie Rogers, president of the student council at Martinsburg High School, told Townsend she would like the school to have more after-school tutors to help students with their studies. Rogers said the county also needs a youth center.

Students need somewhere to go after school "besides the mall and the movies that doesn't cost $10 every time they go in," she said.

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