Wakefield High School students were greeted by an extra special guest upon returning from summer vacation this week.
President Obama, addressing the nation’s school children live from the Wakefield auditorium, touted the importance education plays in reaching one’s potential in life. As I sat in the audience, the wisdom of the President’s words and diversity of the students who received them, struck me for both their clarity of purpose and how far we have come as a nation.
Indeed, Wakefield is among the most ethnically and economically diverse schools in northern Virginia. Wakefield, along with George Mason High School and Falls Church High School in Falls Church, ranks among the top one percent of all high schools in the nation, according to a recent poll by Newsweek magazine. In the entire northern Virginia region, the Social Science Research Council found that over ninety percent of residents have a high school education or higher, significantly exceeding the national average.
While northern Virginia’s educational achievements are impressive, there’s still much to be done to improve our educational system. As the President stated Tuesday, parents, teachers, and students must all do their part to drive for success. But government also has a major role to play in this effort. Whether we provide the resources our communities need to educate our young people, will in turn, determine our nation’s economic future.
As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Education committee, I will continue working to deliver federal resources to the people and educational intuitions that are making a difference in their communities – whether assisting economically disadvantaged children or those with disabilities. We must continue to place a premium on improving and expanding our educational infrastructure, a much more difficult task when state and local government budgets are stretched to the breaking from the recession. Supporting programs we know that work like Head Start and the recruitment and retaining of qualified teachers, particularly those in the subjects of science and math where the U.S. is far outpaced by other industrialized nations, will determine whether our nation continues to lead in the 21st century.
One final highlight from the President’s speech: his focus on responsibility. President Obama stated, “Every single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. You have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is.” That’s an important message. At the end of the day, no amount of resources or parental support can force a child to reach their potential. Everyone, at some point in their lives, must make the choice to take their education seriously if they want to truly rise to the level they are capable.