New Britain, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Connecticut’s teens are lucky to have two congressional candidates who are interested in our educational lives.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, a New Britain Republican, said she supports funding for various school programs, especially special education.
Democrat Charlotte Koskoff, a Plainville resident who is hoping to unseat the 14-year veteran congresswoman, said she is a strong supporter of education.
Koskoff, an education professor at Central Connecticut State University and ex-teacher, said she is particularly interested in expanding the pre-school Head Start program that gives a boost to low-income children before they enter elementary school.
Both candidates say that requiring public school uniforms will benefit students. Johnson said students’ spirits and minds will be more noticeable than appearance if uniforms are adopted.
Johnson said the laws governing special education programs are too complex. She helped push through a reform this year that failed to win Senate approval. But she expects it to pass next year.
Koskoff and Johnson say more jobs should be available to teenagers.
Though Johnson would like to hold down the minimum wage so employers would be able to hire more teens, Koskoff wants the lowest allowable pay increased.
Johnson said she also supports the successful school-to-work program that helps students find jobs after graduation.
Both candidates agree that more activities should be available to children and teens. They said a variety of free or low-cost programs ought to be in place for both boys and girls.
Each of the politicians, though, thinks that individual towns have to decide what’s needed.
Johnson said that controlling drugs and violence in schools and towns should be handled on the local level.
But Koskoff said she strongly supports the Goals 2000 program that aims to keep schools safe. She said Johnson voted to cut funding for the program.
Johnson and Koskoff each said that young people should pay attention to government and politics.
Knowledge is power,” said Johnson, adding that those who know more have a decided advantage” over those who know less.
Koskoff urged teens to get involved in the Nov. 5 election – even at the last minute.
Volunteer for a wonderful learning experience,” said Koskoff. Make a difference.”
Hila Yosafi is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.