Senator says he gives himself an 'F'
RENVILLE -- If U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., was to grade himself on his accomplishments in Congress, it would be an "F," he told students Thursday at the Renville County West High School in Renville.
It wasn't for a lack of effort, however.
Speaking during a brief question-and-answer period, Dayton was responding to a student's question on whether he was satisfied with his accomplishments in the Senate.
"Definitely not,'' said the senator, who added that he will be leaving his office "frustrated."
He said he was frustrated that he had not been able to improve federal funding for rural education. He also pointed out that he was among only 23 senators who had voted against U.S. policy in Iraq.
Speaking in general terms, Dayton told the students that he feels our country "is going in the wrong direction.
"I can't do anything about that and it bothers me,'' he said.
He acknowledged that being a part of the minority party in the Congress had much to do with keeping him from achieving his goals. "Absolutely,'' he said.
However, Dayton quickly added that he "respects the will of the American electorate'' and its decision to elect a federal government dominated by Republican office holders. He also added: "No one has a monopoly on the truth or wisdom.''
Asked about funding for rural education, Dayton decried what he described as a decrease in support for education by both the state and federal governments. He pointed out that when he attended college three decades ago, he was expected to fund no more than one-third of his education. Student aid and taxpayer support carried two-thirds of the burden.
Today, students are expected to finance 80 percent of their educations by acquiring debt, he said. "It's hypocritical of my generation,'' Dayton said. He said adults are telling young people it's important to get an education, "but we're not going to help you pay for it.''
"Shortsighted and stupid,'' were the words he used to describe the approach.
Asked also about rising gas prices, Dayton praised efforts for ethanol but warned students that even government intervention cannot provide relief from the rising price of oil. The world's thirst for oil is growing, he said, pointing to the continued economic growth in China. That steady demand for a finite resource will keep prices high, he said.