Butterfield: ‘Education is the Best Investment’

May 4, 2016
In The News

WELDON — U.S. Rep. G.K Butterfield praised local educators for their efforts during his “State of the District” speech in Weldon on Tuesday, but stressed more needs to be done for Roanoke Valley students.

Even though he said he’s proud of the success of educators in the state, Butterfield noted he’s disappointed with low-performing schools in the Valley.

“It’s incumbent on the state and the federal government to invest in facilities in Halifax County to improve the educational outcome for its students,” Butterfield said. “This problem will not be solved by just thinking about it, it’s going to be solved with investment.”

Butterfield, D-Wilson, said education is the best investment we can make in the future.

“I know there is no substitute for good teachers, good performing schools and providing a solid education for our children,” he said.

He said he’s secured more than $7 million for early childhood education in North Carolina through the Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge grant. He added he supports the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed into law in December.

The congressman also said he’s a supporter of the community college system, noting those like HCC equip workers with the skills they need to obtain jobs.

Ervin V. Griffin Sr., president/CEO of HCC, said the college is enjoying high attendance and graduation rates, noting the school is scheduled to award 620 associate diplomas and certificates to 405 graduates for this year’s graduating class.

“This is a 9-percent increase in the number of students graduating from our college with an associate degree … and the number of students receiving any credential from our college,” Griffin said.

But once someone graduates, they don’t necessarily have a job, Butterfield noted.

Butterfield added job creation isn’t the sole responsibility of the private sector, noting government has a role to play as well.

“We need to give tax credits to employers to train new workers,” Butterfield said. “We, at the federal level, have got to incentivize job creation in the private sector.”

Viola Gilbert, one of the event attendees and a counselor at Weldon High School, said the issues Butterfield addressed were very important to her.

“Education, the Voting Rights Act, a lot of those things impact people in this community,” Gilbert said.

Griffin praised Butterfield’s efforts in increasing education opportunities for Roanoke Valley residents.

“He has a bill to provide more funding for us to train and retrain new and incumbent workers here in Halifax and Northampton counties,” Griffin said. “Hopefully they will pass the new higher education act that will allow students to get Pell (grants) during the summer and short-term workforce development training.”

Butterfield encouraged attendees to pay attention to what’s happening in politics, noting this is an important year.

“While we won’t solve every challenge that comes our way, we can take steps starting tonight to join together and be heard loudly and speak with a singular voice and grow opportunities right here in eastern North Carolina,” Butterfield said.