Wilder School in Action: Governor's Voice
by David Slipher
66th Governor of Virginia L. Douglas Wilder joins us for a Q&A to share his perspectives on the Wilder School Commonwealth Poll, a longtime bellwether and trusted source for public opinion in Virginia
Q: In recent polling, we see extreme polarization by Democrats and Republicans on the issues each party sees as most important. How can we develop effective priorities that reflect the public view?
"The cost of a college degree is far too expensive. Start with that. Does it mean that certain things have to change? Yes. Like what? Like the tuition cost and administrative expenses — millions of dollars of spending on bureaucracies that don't benefit students at all." – Gov. L. Douglas Wilder
A: The policy changes that might be reflected in the polls sometimes suggest that there are uniform opinions held by the members of the Senate, members of the House and the president. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. We are finding that polls have changed significantly through the years from yes or no answers — black and white answers — to more complex and often divergent perspectives. I think the polls reflect uncertainty on behalf of the voters, the uncertainty associated with lack of accountability from those who are in charge to effect results. The real question is, “What are the issues that need to be addressed to reduce party differentiation?”
Q: Are approval ratings indicative of performance, or is there more to the picture?
A: Approval is too rounded of a word. Approval of how one stands on an issue? Approval of how one reflects the views of the people? Approval of how one makes sufficient effort to promote change?
Q: On the topic of education, poll results indicate a decline in the perceived value of a college degree. More than half of respondents indicated that they do not think that the education from colleges and universities in Virginia is worth the cost.
A: Over half of Virginians feel that an in-state college degree is not worth the cost. Tuition has increased at a rate that is no longer affordable for students and their families. The cost of a college degree is far too expensive. Start with that. Does it mean that certain things have to change? Yes. Like what? Like the tuition cost and administrative expenses — millions of dollars of spending on bureaucracies that don't benefit students at all. Spending money on things doesn't mean that you're spending money for things. The government and legislature are being asked to indirectly curtail the cost, and if they cannot, why not?