Our outgoing State Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, who wants to be Governor, got a fine higher education himself but, it appears, he hasn’t learned the value of an education for others, certainly not for our children.
We learned early on following his election as AG that he did not respect academic freedom.
Mr. Cuccinelli went after one university researcher’s studies of climate change, Professor Michael E. Mann, because Mr. Cuccinelli couldn’t believe that humans since the industrial revolution could have an adverse effect on climate change.
Having no evidence of any possible fraud, Mr. Cuccinelli simply subpoenaed a volume of Professor Mann’s private academic materials and correspondence, UVA resisted, and a state judge quashed Mr. Cuccinelli’s attack; so, the AG tried again and the Court said he was wrong again; the Washington Post wrote an editorial saying that Cuccinelli was “determined to embarrass Virginia.”
The fact that a public official fails to agree with someone else, or a citizen has a different view than a partisan party plank, grants no public official license to disregard that citizen’s constitutional right to free speech, or his right to be let alone from a plainly arbitrary intrusion into his private research papers.
Mr. Cuccinelli’s excesses are offensive and ironic given his hubris, namely, comparing himself with a man who considered his greatest contribution to be the University of Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson believed a nation that expects to be ignorant and free believes what never was and never will be.
Mr. Cuccinelli presumes to divine, however, what’s true and treats what he finds disagreeable to be ignorant; this is an unfortunate repressive inclination in a public figure.
The most recent example of our gubernatorial candidate’s dullness to excellence involved the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, a state-chartered regional magnet school.
Some dimmer lights believe we can “imitate” this school in Loudoun County, so who needs it they say.
U.S. News and World Report ranked the TJ school the best public school in the nation from 2007 through 2013. We are talking high AP scores, national merit semifinalists, participation in the U.S. Physics Olympiad Team, Intel Science Talent Search semifinalists, and more. You are admitted as a student from six local jurisdictions including Loudoun County based on an admissions test, academic achievement, recommendations and an essay. A quarter of the graduating class go on to attend U. VA. Others attend William and Mary, VPI and colleges out of state.
State and County government funds underwrite the school. Corporations from the defense and hi-tech industries also contribute to the school.
Surrounding jurisdictions have supported the school with funding so that the competitive open enrollment will continue to be open to students from other counties including Loudoun.
The school’s physical plant is getting long in the tooth since it was first established in 1964 and needs a capital investment to make the necessary capital improvements by 2016.
Surrounding counties have been asked to contribute, done their legal due diligence and decided they may do so.
But here’s the buzz kill, outgoing Loudoun Delegate Joe May, himself a hi-tech wizard and patent holding inventor, asked the Attorney General whether the counties could contribute to the capital cost of maintaining TJ’s physical plant, specifically the Loudoun County School Board.
In trial work, it’s always said a question is not evidence of anything, only the answer. Few agree that’s true. May asked the question in order to undermine the necessary capital funding, Loudoun County’s share of the cost at $7.75 million, and thus our children’s opportunity to attend that extraordinary school. Mr. Cuccinelli gave Joe what he asked for, an opinion that jurisdictions other than Fairfax may not provide capital funding.
As other lawyers who have studied the issue find no such problem, even after Mr. Cuccinelli’s adverse opinion, and Mr. Cuccinelli is smart enough to get it right, a fair conclusion might be that Mr. Cuccinelli is playing to his base in a GOTV (Get-out-the-vote) low-turnout election, to those who oppose public schools generally, and, at the same time, satisfying an outgoing constituent delegate carrying water himself for County Board members who don’t want to contribute a dime more to the TJ school.
We don’t need a governor who plays political football with our children’s opportunities to excel, nor one who lacks the imagination and foresight to support an innovative educational resource that will otherwise be replaced by even more H1B visas for bright science students and professionals from other nations, to make up for the scientists that our schools fail to produce.