least you can understand Jerry Kilgore these days.
He’s gone to campaign charm school somewhere and
traded in that nasal twang for a store-bought
accent. The ad taglines sound good. Almost too good.
Too deep. Too sonorous. Sort of like the later Orson
Wells wine commercials. But these campaign makeovers
have downsides, too. Tradeoffs. Back home in Gate
City nowadays he has to travel with an interpreter,
I’d say. All of this, though, is just window
dressing. Let’s get to the meat, to the substance
of this campaign.
row. There is no meat. No substance. Where Jerry
Kilgore is concerned, window dressing will have to
a good guy. He comes from a good family, from a good
part of the state. He just needs to get in an honest
line of work. When I consider his education
proposals I visualize him standing on a street
corner. I can’t help it. That’s how I visualize
him. He has a little table set up. On the table are
three shells and a pea. He’s working his tail off
at this little table and the whole time talking jive
to the people of Virginia.
calls his education program “the three Rs” for
teachers. He says his administration will recruit
top graduates into the profession, retain the best,
and reward them for excellence. And… those little
shells are moving now… and he’s going to do this
without money, without raising taxes, without
cutting core services somewhere else. Just dip into
the General Fund.
a bottomless pit of money, right, Jerry? What’s
another billion or two dollars out of that? It’s
how you propose to fund highway construction, and
build prisons and pay our law enforcement officers
and look after our state employees and keep up our
colleges and universities and care for our elderly
and buy mental health services, and pay the Medicaid
increases and fund the forestry and recreation and
the environmental programs and everything else. Why
not the General Fund?
reach in there Jerry, and grab you up a big wad of
cash and throw it in every direction you think you
can find a vote. I’m sorry. Need. I meant to say
“need”. Throw that General Fund cash in every
direction you think you can find a need.
I forget the Kilgore program for school
construction? How he’s going to help local
governments build schools for these good teachers to
work in? You’d better sit down on this one. You
might get dizzy. On this one, those shells move to
warp speed. The first thing he’s going to do to
help local governments is to handcuff every local
government and every local school board in Virginia
by taking away their revenue options.
he’s going to set up, he says, an “Education
Investment Trust Fund.” Details to follow. Hey,
that raises my comfort level.
is a critical teacher shortage in Virginia. For one
thing, we ran them off by the thousands with the
last little game that came along, that
teach-the-test initiative called the Standards of
Learning. But, hey, what’s a generation of kids
and a few thousand teachers when politics hangs in
I think education in Virginia is part of my
responsibility, too. So I’m going to help you out
here. Slow down. Watching you work that street
corner is making me tired. You can drop all that
jive stuff. You can go back to talking like plain ol’
Jerry. You don’t have to keep hustling yourself
into a lather keeping that little pea hid.
you want to improve education in Virginia, if you
want to recruit, reward, and retain the best
teachers for our children, here’s what you do:
to fully funding Virginia’s standards of quality.
Commit today to raising the pay of Virginia’s
teachers to at least the national average. Commit to
letting teachers teach. Hire school nurses to do the
school nursing. Hire paper pushers to push the
paper. Hire disciplinarians to do the refereeing.
This is not complicated. Just let the teachers
teach, Jerry, and they’ll come back.
don’t have to thank me. Just do your part. Show us
that your education proposals really are more than
Readin’, ’Ritin’ and Recklessness.
April 11 2005