For those who were not there at the Senate Committee on Education, Culture and Youth, I want to present some observations. Friends of VI National Park representatives were invited to testify on the cultural and educational programs they fund for the National Park and St John. They were invited guests whose programs were virtually ignored and who were attacked for failing to support House Resolution 53, leasing park land for a school on St John. One senator questioned why they were friends of the park and not friends of the children of St John for failing to support this bill.
Friends of the Park has consistently supported a new school for St John as the current one (through 9th grade) is in deplorable condition. Friends has offered numerous alternatives which would not require federal legislation to result in land for a school. But I suggest to the senators who attacked the Friends representative that it is not Friends responsibility to educate our youth. It is the VI Government, specifically the senate, which has for decades abrogated their duty to provide decent education for the children of St John (and indeed the rest of the territory). They are charged with the responsibility, they collect the taxes to accomplish it, and what do we get? Fat salaries for the senators and their staffs, shiny new SUV's for all, lip service to "for the children" and darn little else. Trying to shift the blame for the condition of education on St John to the Park Service or Friends of VI National Park is a smoke screen of the nastiest sort. It is dishonest and plays to the dark side of the cultural divide, which Friends of the Park seeks to eliminate. I am disappointed in the behavior of the senate committee today, although not surprised. This type of disgraceful behavior on the part of our elected "leaders" is just all too common.
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