November 19, 2015

John Marshall High School Students Skype With Sen. Joe Manchin, Address the Future | The Wheeling Intelligencer

John Marshall High School students met with Sen. Joe Manchin via Skype Wednesday regarding issues they will face in coming years.

AP Government students and members of John Marshall's Youth Leadership Association posed questions to Manchin, D-W.Va., with several concerns about education standards and how students can be expected to afford college in an economy where a college degree is becoming seemingly mandatory. Manchin's advice was to shop around for college programs, acquire scholarships and learn to finance education in a way that would not lead to crippling debt.

"The cost of college has skyrocketed. If you do well, you study hard and pursue opportunities, there shouldn't be one of you sitting there thinking you can't go to college," Manchin said. "You cannot afford to not get an education. That's the best investment you'll ever make in your life. College should be more cost-effective and affordable than it is."

Manchin said during his time as West Virginia's governor, from 2005-2010, the most critical question business leaders considering locating in the state asked him was about the quality of the state's educated workforce. He also spoke of the importance of education on financial matters, which he believes is lacking among today's youth.

"How much education have you had on financial literacy? How much education have you had deciding what type of risk to take, how much you should borrow, what type of loan, and I would say that very little has been done in that arena.

Students also pressed for answers on translating growth in the energy field into a benefit for state residents.

"We all want manufacturing opportunities, and we need to look at it differently than we have before. If we don't invest in infrastructure, then we'll be exploited - people will come in to do the jobs, they have the experience from out west, and they go back. If you have the permanent jobs here from manufacturing, from ethane cracker plants, then the jobs stay here, and that's what we've got to have. I've told the state they need to invest in this - if the private sector isn't going to step up to the plate, the state needs to build this infrastructure."

Manchin introduced himself by saying the advances in technology have allowed people in his position to connect with his constituents on a much more active basis, something he did not imagine possible when he took office.

"It's important to me to be able to reach out to all our youth across the state. Ten years ago, even five years ago, it wasn't possible to reach out to every school, but I'm now Skyping all across the state," Manchin said. "You need to know about your government, so you know what you're going to inherit and where you want the government to go."