The brief reference to education by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial in his State of the Commonwealth Address disappointed Northern Marianas College officials, who were expecting him to dwell on the subject and outline ways of how the government will address this sector’s continued lack of funding.
Right after Fitial’s speech, NMC representatives led by president Tony V. Deleon Guerrero slowly stood up, looked at each other, and walked slowly out of the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center.
“It’s disappointing,” said Board of Regents chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds.
She pointed out that the governor took time to break down local revenues and employment issues, but hardly touched the state of education on the islands.
During his speech, Fitial said that it has been customary to talk about education, healthcare, and the environment, among other issues, but “I regret not being able to share my views on these important subjects. But this is no ordinary State of the Commonwealth Address. Our government is broke.”
The NMC board is scheduled to lobby the Fitial administration and the Legislature next week to spare the college from further budget cuts this fiscal year 2006.
King-Hinds said that based on the governor’s speech, he seemed “pretty decided” on everything. She believes that their effort would only be futile.
King-Hinds pointed out that, during the governor’s gubernatorial campaign, he promised that he would always include education in his agenda.
She said she always thought that Fitial is “pro-education” but said he currently he is getting some bad advice from his constituents. King-Hinds called the usual excuse “better economy means better education” a cliché.
King-Hinds stressed that education plays an important role in making any new businesses successful, especially for the benefit of the CNMI community. She said that if local children have better education they would be able to penetrate these businesses, thus helping them prosper and grow.
NMC Bachelors of Education third-year student Ignacia Torres attended the SOCA yesterday with an agenda—to be reassured of her continued education at the college. Torres said she was shocked when the governor said he will not talk about education. “He didn’t even touch on it,” she said shaking her head.
Torres said what the governor did made them feel “unimportant.” More than 50 NMC students attended the governor’s SOCA.