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Stefanik Spends Day With Students

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Lucas Willard
/
WAMC

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of Northern New York toured the region today to discuss education issues with students and faculty. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard caught up with the freshman lawmaker in Malta.

“Obviously education has changed a lot since I was in school, which wasn’t that long ago. I’m only 30,” said Stefanik.

Representative Stefanik sat in on a group of students presenting their research at Hudson Valley’s TEC SMART campus in Malta. The students from across the region spend half their school day taking classes in green technologies, alternative energy, business, and others at the early college program. 

On Friday, 12th grade students presenting their projects focused around solar energy were able to get feedback from local businesspeople.

17-year-old Christian Mulrain’s group presented an idea to build a solar-powered shower and bathroom facility designed to assist people living in tent cities in Haiti.

“It was a great experience for me because I’m not really that great in front of talking to people, but to be able to talk in front of those people that are very important in the field that we did will help me out greatly talking to other people in a different field that we have a project in,” said Mulrain.

Stefanik, a Republican member of the House Education and Workforce committee, said she was impressed by the students’ presentations.

“I think it’s important that we modernize our education system to make sure our students are prepared for the 21st Century economy. Part of that is focusing on STEM fields, and I was just really blown away by the caliber of the students’ presentations and how the problems and the focus of their projects have real life applications.”

Stefanik says she aims to support vocational and technical education during her first term in Washington.

“One of the funding issues that will likely come up is the Perkins Act, which is supportive of technical and vocational education.  And I am a supporter of reauthorizing the Perkins Act – that will likely come up later in this Congress. And I just think in terms of thinking outside of the box in how we prepare our students, education shouldn’t be a once size fits all. And I think P-TECH programs are an example of moving in a modernizing direction.”

Reacting to President Obama’s plan introduced in his State of the Union to fund two years of free community college, Stefanik was skeptical, and questioned the real cost of the proposal.

“So there’s no such thing as a zero price tag, ultimately the taxpayers are going to have to pay the bill. And it will cost upwards of $80 billion, a quarter of which will be on the state’s shoulders.”

The Clean Technologies Early College High School Program is a partnership between Hudson Valley Community College and Ballston Spa Central School District.

Stefanik was scheduled Friday to visit with high schoolers and kindergartners at Ballston Spa. It was a busy week for the school district, where about 50 students represented the Capital Region at Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany Wednesday.

Superintendent Joe Dragone….

“We’re thrilled to be able to share the real work we’re doing on the ground every day on a daily basis, especially with our youngest children, about teaching and learning. Showcasing the work of our staff, showing off the talents that we have in the building, and the different opportunities  that we afford all the  kids in the BallstonSpa community,” said Dragone.

Stefanik was also scheduled to take part in a superintendents roundtable and to meet with the New York State United Teachers union. A spokesman said it would be an introductory meeting for the union, which has clashed repeatedly with Governor Cuomo in recent days.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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