Tsongas discusses education and its effect on the economy
By Alice N. Gilchrist
Former Sen. Paul Tsongas (D-MA), the first Democrat to announce his intention to run for president in 1992, discussed his platform Tuesday in Kresge Little Theater. He has been labeled the "economic Paul Revere" because, as a liberal, he has an unusually strong stance on economic policy.
The theme of Tsongas' lecture was education's affect on the economy. He said the United States needs to focus on education in order to fix its internal problems, especially its economic problems. "Education is critical in turning
[it0,1p]economics around," he said.
Instead of using money to improve the educational system, Tsongas said he intends to implement social reform. He recommends parent and teacher involvement in choosing teachers in local school systems. Both teachers and parents should also be given a large role in choosing school administrators. Tsongas said he would also encourage older students to take part in the selection of their teachers.
Tsongas believes much of the country's problems lie in a nation-wide decline in educational values. He wants to
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work with the "mind-set of society" to rid the country of its movement toward "anti-intellectualism."
Tsongas sees education as "taking what is given to us and passing it on." This "sense of continuum," as he called it, is vital to mending the country's current status.
As president, Tsongas said he would encourage two views of education -- humanist and economic. The humanist view would emphasize the social opportunities and enlightenment that originate from education. The eco
nomic view would focus on the self-interest of corporations by making it fruitful for them to contribute to educational funds.
Tsongas emphasized the problems of an uneducated country by discussing the problems of an uneducated state. Tsongas said Massachusetts is the "only state that has lowered its commitment to higher education three years in a row" and that this has resulted in a dearth of jobs because employers look to people from other more educated states to fill their staff.
Tsongas said it took President George Bush two and a half years to become the education president. As an example of this, Tsongas pointed out that the president was not being truthful when he claimed there was not enough money to fully fund the educational program Head Start. Tsongas said the money needed
for the Head Start program was equal to the amount added on to the Star Wars fund.
"If [Bush] is claiming to be the education president and he has money to spend on either Head Start or Star Wars, and he chooses Star Wars," Tsongas said, "he can call himself what he wants, but he's not the education president."
Tsongas ended his lecture by saying that the key to strengthening education is to "see the children as part of us, the same blood. We are they. They are us."
Tsongas answered questions from the audience after his lecture. When asked about his attitude toward the environment, Tsongas said the greatest threat to the environment is the growth
of population, and that the second greatest threat is the greenhouse effect. He plans to work to
control both of these hazards,
but he added that a stable economy is the first step.
In answer to another question, Tsongas outlined his general strategy. He said he will "change his party into a pro-economic, liberal" group. He said the Democrats must "give up corporate bashing and class warfare" if they want to succeed.
When asked whether he thought he would win, Tsongas replied, "I haven't lost an election in six campaigns." He added, "every Democratic candidate for president is on this stage right now, and I'm ahead."