Our View: James wrong on education

Our View

In short: While Tim James has run his entire campaign for governor on being a political outsider, his lack of knowledge on key political issues shows that he is too far outside.

The race for Alabama’s governor is certainly one that warrants the presence of a so-called “political outsider,” especially with the perception of unethical behavior and irresponsibility in Montgomery. Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James, however, does not appear to be the right outside choice for Alabama.

When James required the assistance of an aide to remember what Race to the Top – President Obama’s $4 billion education reform plan – was in an interview with The Crimson White Thursday, he demonstrated his claim that he hasn’t spent much time in politics.

While he claims his lack of political involvement is an asset to his candidacy, since he has stayed out of the corruption of state government, his lack of experience and knowledge about key issues appears to be more like a crutch. Anyone involved in politics should easily recall the most significant federal education policy since No Child Left Behind, especially someone who is running for governor of Alabama.

James eventually answered the question about Race to the Top funding by deciding that throwing money at the problem is not a solution.

While he has a point – too often politicians run on a platform of increasing funding for something under the belief that money solves everything – he neglects the importance of spending money wisely, even if that means increasing spending.

Accepting Alabama’s education system as adequate is a mistake, and turning away funding that might help improve the opportunities Alabama students have for a good education would be an even worse mistake.

A statewide lottery to fund education – similar to Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program – was another education proposal with which James took issue. He claimed that it would be inequitable, funding the educations of high-performing students with the money of lower-income Alabamians.

Many Alabama residents have already expressed a strong interest in gambling through the ongoing bingo debate, and that intent to gamble could be channeled into something to help move the state forward. Increasing access to higher education through such a lottery-based scholarship program would make Alabama more attractive to prospective businesses and would help the state rise above its often impoverished roots.

James should take a second look at education policy. Instead of talking about not throwing money at the issue, he should consider ways the state can spend money more wisely and therefore make any additional money have even more of an impact.

James should also de-emphasize his “political outsider” approach to his campaign. As the son of a two-term Alabama governor, the outsider talk rings somewhat hollow. It would help the voters make a more informed decision for governor if they saw the candidates as their approaches to issues, not just as “alleged insider” and “pseudo-outsider.”

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board. Managing Editor Alan Blinder recused himself from this editorial.