April 29, 2016

Lt. Gov. Candidates Argue for Higher Ed

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Candidates Randy Brock, Kesha Ram, and David Zuckerman

Candidates Randy Brock, Kesha Ram, and David Zuckerman

Burlington, April 23 — Candidates for Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor debated education policies at a forum held at the University of Vermont on Saturday.

Lowering college tuition costs and voicing student concerns in the State House “is the reason I ran for the legislature in the first place,” State Representative Kesha Ram, one of the Democratic candidates, said. Ram was elected to her current position the same year she graduated from UVM.

All three candidates have strong ties to Vermont colleges. Both Democrats, Rep. Ram from Burlington and Chittenden County State Senator David Zuckerman, are UVM alumni, and Republican State Auditor Randy Brock graduated from Middlebury.

Student debt and high education costs are “part of a much larger problem” in Vermont, Auditor Brock said. “The real focus has to be on economic development.” The Auditor cited Vermont’s high per student spending for K-12 schools: over $16,000 vs. the national average of about $10,000. This is due to a lack of students in our schools, Brock said, which stems from a lack of jobs bringing new people to the state.

Sen. Zuckerman linked education to Vermont’s drug issues. “Access to education is one of the main counters” to drug use, the Senator said. Zuckerman, a sponsor of the marijuana legalization bill, also said that legalization will draw revenue for education and bring new jobs to Vermont.

All the candidates stressed the importance of liberal arts college education in addition to STEM programs. “What [liberal arts] teaches is critical thinking,” Brock said.

“[Liberal arts education] fosters a broader range of thought,” Sen. Zuckerman said. “GMOs are products of linear thinking that ends up being more expensive in the long term,” he continued.

The state primary is August 9th.

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