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ISSUE 116 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/6/2002

Kline listens to community concerns on education, war

By Julie Gunderson
News Editor

Friday, December 6, 2002

Funding for education and the war on terrorism were two of the topics discussed at a town hall meeting held by Congressman John Kline Tuesday. Kline, newly appointed to the House Education and Workforce Committee, came to campus to hear what students, faculty and community members had to say about the challenges in education.

The informal meeting in the Pause was one of inquiry, in which Kline fielded questions and comments about the effectiveness of standardized testing, student achievement in relation to school funding and higher education funding.

Kline, citing Northfield’s two colleges, said that the community was “the center of higher education in the second district.”

The dialogue centered, however, on the issue of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The act is designed to increase the effectiveness of public schools by allowing states to create their own standards for what a child should know and learn for all grades and then using test scores to determine their achievement.

Kline told the crowd that this year’s Congress would probably not be able to address the Act specially.

“We need to give it some time before we can really measure its effects and see what if any changes need to be made,” Kline said.

Education spending has been a big issue in Washington. Funding for education from the federal government has gone up 132 percent in the last seven years.

Kline however stressed his desire to keep schools localized. “I don’t want to have Washington and the federal government telling states how to run their schools,” Kline said. “I don’t want to be earmarking spending appropriations for certain programs and not allowing schools to decide how they could best spend that money.”

Kline was also asked if he thought school vouchers would be making a comeback on the federal agenda.

“There are a few test beds out there right now,” Kline said. “But I don’t think you will see a big movement until we have had time to assess how these schools are doing.”

Funding for schools in impoverished communities also got a lot of attention. The relationship between parenting and children’s success in education was brought forth as a reason some children are inclined to do better than others.

Kline acknowledged that the school’s role in social areas are hard to define.

“We are asking schools to do things that are beyond what they are capable of,” Kline said. “We are asking them to be mentor, parent, instructor, social worker, etc.”

Kline asked the audience if they felt college entrance exams were good indicators of how successful students would be in higher education.

Most in the crowd said they felt that the exams did little to gage how academically inclined a student was, but some felt that tests were necessary in determining how prepared a student was.

Although the forum was meant for education, audience members brought up the war on terrorism, and Kline addressed the issue, offering his thoughts about America’s current situation.

“It amazes me that the horrors of Sept. 11 are not fresh in front of us. I know they are fresh for the men and women who are working in the CIA, FBI and homeland security.”

Kline called Secretary of State Colin Powell’s evidence that he presented to the United Nations an “undeniable case.”

Kline also stated the differences he sees between this conflict and those of the past, particularly the Vietnam conflict.

“We never once worried that they would come over here,” Kline said. “September 2001 demonstrated they could and will come over here.”

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