The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Budget is Live

Go here to read Governor Warner's speech. Go here to take a gander at the documents.

The highlight of the speech. Under "Challenges Remain" headline "Education" we get this gem:
Earlier this year, I went to India, leading a business delegation on a trade mission. As I visited that country—which is undergoing explosive change—I saw a number of things that speak to where we are as a state… as opposed to where we need to be.

A dozen examples jump to mind. But the one that really stands out -- more than the Taj Mahal or the high tech industry that is being spawned almost overnight -- is a visit we made to one of the worst slums in Delhi.

Dirt floors . . . no running water . . . kids being sent out to beg to feed their families instead of going to school.

I was of course struck by the crushing poverty. But I also saw something the locals call the “hole in the wall.”

It is a cinder block building covered by a corrugated tin roof, where computers have been placed into a hole in a concrete wall. No teachers. No instruction. Just put there. The computers were turned on in the morning and turned off at night. And, every day the kids wrestled over who would use the computers first.

You wouldn’t have believed it. I met a kid named Sameer who asked me how to spell my name so he could “Google” me, so he could see whether I was somebody important.

He, and all the others, knew how to e-mail and IM. They were doing basically the same things on the computer that my girls do at home.

A lot of these kids are truly remarkable and I pray they do well.

This experience said a lot to me about what is going on in India -- a country poised between two worlds, between past and future -- between dire poverty and cutting-edge technology.

But where it really resonated is this.

It told me in a very real, very personal way that the race is on for the future. The central question is -- Who’s going to own it? … and who’s going to get there first?

At the RPV Advance in Hot Springs VA a few weekends ago, I made a quick trip to the bustling metropolis of Bath County (I apologize if it's actually in Alleghany) Covington. On Route 220 south I noticed that I was in "Virginia's Technology Corridor." While this was an awkward (and probably completely fabricated) anecdote. It hits on a serious note. Service sector jobs of the highest technological caliber will move across the ocean with less muscle-power than trinkets and sneakers. I agree with Governor Warner 100%.

Fear Sameer.


Anonymous Locator said...

You're right--you were wrong. Covington is in Alleghany County. As a matter of fact, it's the county seat.

For your information, the county seat of Bath County is Warm Springs (not Hot Springs as you probably thought).

You're welcome. Come again. We've found that it's easier to pick a flatland Republican than a pound of sheep wool.

4:07 PM


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