College tuition should be regulated and textbooks should be tax free, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell said during an Oct. 11 address in the UC Retama Auditorium.
Bell joined Congressional candidate Lukin Gilliland and Texas State Representative Joaquin Castro at UTSA to speak to students about their campaigns and the upcoming election.
The College Democrats and Graduate Political Science Association (GPSA) sponsored the event.
”We had Chris Bell last year, and we think he is a wonderful candidate. We think he’ll make an even better governor,” Alda Morales, College Democrats president, said. “We definitely wanted the students to come out here and get the opportunity to hear him speak.”
The most important issue to Bell is public school education, and he believes education should be the number one priority in Texas. He thinks students shouldn’t be taught only how to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test.
”We’re not going to be able to prepare folks to live and work in the 21st century by just preparing for yet another standardized test,” Bell said.
”And I don’t have anything against standardized testing, but if it was working, then the scores on the TAKS test would be matching what we see on the SAT scores.”
Bell says that the motivation to spend so much time preparing students for the TAKS test is because of the high-stakes nature of the exam and that motivation needs to be removed.
He says teachers should be held accountable for what students are learning and what they need for their futures along with skills for he TAKS test.
”Respecting teachers in this day and age means paying them a competitive wage early on,” Bell said. “I want to see well-paid, well-qualified teachers making sure that young people pass the curriculum before moving forward to the next grade level-a curriculum that will actually prepare them to live and work in the 21st century.”
College education was also addressed with Bell recognizing that tuition has gone up and that the deregulation of tuition isn’t working. According to Bell, college tuition has gone up 30-105 percent on every Texas state campus.
”We made a college education less affordable at a time when more and more jobs across the state of Texas and all across the country are requiring a college degree,” Bell said. “It’s absurd and it makes no sense. We need to get back to re-regulating college tuition.”
Bell also explained that under Governor Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas is still struggling with problems such as high school dropout, teen pregnancy and children without health care insurance.
”Rick Perry is an absolute, miserable failure as governor and we keep falling further and further behind,” Bell said.
”We’re going to demand better leadership for Washington and demand stronger leadership from Austin. We’re not just going to sit back and take it anymore. That’s what this campaign for governor is about.”
While Bell’s main issue is education, there were some topics that students would have liked Bell to address.
”I would have liked more information on immigration, and what he thinks about the wall that they’re building and how they’re bringing the army over there so they can control the people coming from Mexico,” freshman Ana Otero said.
Gilliland, candidate for Congress for the 23rd District of Texas, spoke about his values, education and his opponent, Henry Bonilla.
”He [Bonilla] and his friends like to talk about their support of education, but when it comes to higher education, they vote time and time again to cut Pell grants and other financial assistance to students like yourself,” Gilliland said.
When asked about the Iraq war, Gilliland said he did not think the U.S. should reveal its plans for getting the troops out of Iraq.
”Whether or not you like the fact we went there, we’re there and we created a large problem. I think it’s very important we withdraw in the correct way,” Gilliland said.
”I don’t think setting public timetables is the way to do things. Being in business, I never found it useful to tell my opposition what my plans were.”
A surprise visit was made by Castro, who is running for reelection for Texas State Representative in the District 125.
Castro talked about the importance of young adults getting involved in politics.
”I hope that no matter what you hear about being young and being in politics, you’re never discouraged by folks who say you don’t have enough experience,” Castro said. “And that you always go for it and stay involved as a volunteer or candidate.”
As an elected official, Castro thinks he should ensure people receive all the opportunities they can for a god life. He described how people speak with hope for the future, going to good schools and getting good jobs.
”They speak with that sense of hope because they want the best for their kids and grand kids,” Castro said. “So when they ask what the job of an elected official is, I think to make that hope real, to make that future real.”