By Peter A. Finocchio, Henrico
To the editor:
Earlier this month, recent college graduate Erin Parker argued that university students owe U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) their thanks (“College students owe Mark Warner a debt of gratitude,” July 3).
I beg to differ.
Don’t get me wrong, the Employer Participation in Refinancing Act, introduced by Warner and cosponsored by senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), is a good, bipartisan bill that utilizes market avenues to help rein in student debt. The problem is that Warner has a habit of making these bipartisan gestures but then siding with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the critical moments.
Recently, Warner proposed reforms to deal with a few of the problems that have been created by Obamacare. We wouldn’t have these problems, however, if Warner hadn’t cast a critical vote in favor of passing Obamacare in the first place or if he had addressed these issues prior to the bill’s passage. On the Keystone XL Pipeline, Warner proposed a measure to approve the project, but then sided with Reid to kill his bill. How can we expect Warner to be any more sincere on much-needed education reform? In fact, since 2009, he has voted with Obama’s agenda 97 percent of the time.
Like Parker, I’m a recent college graduate — I graduated from the University of Virginia in May. Like Parker, I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to receive a great education that has given me a lot of opportunities. Because of the neighborhood I grew up in, I was able to attend great public schools that inspired me to learn and prepared me for college.
Millions of Americans don’t have those opportunities. This is why we need education reform that expands parental school choice. Ed Gillespie is 100 percent committed to this type of education reform and has made it a cornerstone of his five-point plan for economic growth. Warner gives occasional lip service to school choice initiatives. He even voted to preserve D.C.’s charter school program when Obama and Reid were willing to let it die. This is laudable, but it isn’t enough.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed many student-focused education bills that Reid won’t even allow onto the Senate floor. The only way that these bills will ever be taken up by the Senate will be if he is removed as majority leader. We’ve seen enough to know that Warner won’t cast that critical vote.
Gillespie will do more than give lip service to reform. He will make it a reality.