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Rivals Allen, Robb square off on education issues

Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.) and former Virginia governor George Allen (R) addressed faculty and educators yesterday and on Tuesday at the Third Annual Policy Institute, sponsored by the Education School's Department of Leadership, Foundations and Policy.

Allen and Robb were the keynote luncheon speakers in the Newcomb Hall ballroom.

Robb and Allen are pitted against each other for Virginia's 2000 U. S. Senate bid.

Allen addressed the need for action, academics and accountability for Virginia's public schools.

Allen touched on Virginia's Standards of Learning tests and how the standards are beneficial to Virginia's children.

"You keep what you realize are high standards and help those youngsters-you can't leave children behind, but don't lower standards-if they need help they should get it if they are trying and want to learn," Allen said.

"Reading is the most basic and essential of all education," he said.

He added that in the past higher education has labored to provide one out of four students with remedial help, proof of Virginia's past policy of spending money on education "without improving learning."

But this has changed as Virginia schools have raised their standards, Allen said.

He said the government needs to continue to make higher education affordable, as Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) currently is trying to do.

"Students in Virginia who are graduating now and in the future should be able to compete and lead better lives because they are better educated," Allen said.

On Tuesday, Robb addressed the needs of K-12 schools, including more teachers, smaller class sizes, access to technology and the insurance of safer schools.

"The single most important challenge facing our nation" is public education, Robb said. "Ninety percent of all children in America today attend public schools."

He said a "tireless commitment" to public education is a "Jefferson ideal.

"Opportunity knows no class, no gender, no race, no income level, no street address-education is the great equalizer," he added. "A good education is the key to economic opportunity for this generation and the next-the relationship between the two could not be clearer."

Robb also spoke on the need for federal government involvement in the public school system.

"All three levels of government need to be working together" to make education its best, he said.

Fifty percent of basic research is university based, he added.

Virginia Tech is 12th largest in the country for research and 67 percent of that research is funded by federal money, Robb said.

At the University, nearly one half of research is supported by federal funds, Robb said.

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