State of Union policies benefit Decatur, state

Many Alabama politicians, who have built careers around vilifying President Barack Obama, of course depicted Tuesday’s State of the Union address as a reminder the man is a crazy liberal determined to bankrupt the nation.

Be that as it may, we noticed how perfectly his policy proposals meshed with the needs of this community.

Obama proposed “working with the states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.”

Locally, state Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, has been pushing the same issue. She explains that money spent on pre-kindergarten programs does not just increase opportunity for children. It also saves tax money in later years by reducing dependence on government programs, stimulating economic growth and reducing incarceration rates.

Collins’ proposal appears unworkable because neither state or local finances permit it, despite the long-term financial benefit. Obama said a pre-K program should be a national priority. Collins is right, he effectively said, and federal funding for her proposal makes sense.

A few hours before the president spoke, Decatur City Schools held a public meeting to discuss community input on how the school system can improve. A consistent theme was the need for better vocational programs. The looming problem, of course, is funding.

Obama announced “a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on … the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.”

It was as if Obama was tapping Superintendent Ed Nichols on the shoulder and reminding him that Decatur’s struggles are not unique. The problem in Decatur is a national one, and it contributes to declining incomes and America’s waning strength in the global economy.

Obama spoke of the need to confront climate change and many Alabamians groaned. Yet Decatur already is benefiting from efforts to reverse a phenomenon that scientists accept as a reality. Hexcel Corp., Toray Carbon Fibers and Ascend Corp. in Decatur are thriving as they produce materials designed to reduce emissions. General Electric, on the verge of closing a few years ago, found new life by producing more efficient refrigerators that emit less carbon during production.

On Monday, a Decatur-built United Launch Alliance rocket — with a price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars — launched a satellite with a primary function of studying the effects of climate change.

It’s fine and good to parrot talk-radio hosts instead of scientists on the issue of climate change, but Decatur is in an excellent position to benefit from the fight to control what most in the developed world believe is a serious problem.

Alabama politicians will keep trying to boost their popularity by attacking Obama. As they do so, however, we hope they notice how beneficial his proposed policies are to Decatur and the state.


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Filed under Alabama politics, education, Environment, obama

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