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March 24, 2014

Deal talks to City Park students about state government

They won’t be able to vote for another decade or so, but third-graders at Dalton’s City Park School got to chat with the state’s top elected official on Monday.

Gov. Nathan Deal answered questions from the students by video for about 20 minutes.

“I was really glad he talked to us. I think it shows he thinks kids are important,” said student Gladys Vasquez.

Deal answered questions the students had previously sent to him, giving them a civics lesson on the structure of state government and his role as governor.

“The governor’s job is to execute the laws passed by the Legislature,” he said.

Deal explained that the largest item in the state budget is education and talked about the governor’s role in making sure state government provides a quality education for its citizens.

“One of the most important things the governor gets to do is to appoint people to what is called the Board of Regents,” he said, explaining how the regents are responsible for setting the overall policies of the University System of Georgia, which includes Dalton State College.

Deal also explained how various state licensing boards oversee numerous professions across the state and how the governor appoints people to those boards.

“Most every area of activity is controlled by some type of licensure,” he said.

Deal also answered questions about himself, noting that before being elected governor he represented Whitfield County in Congress for almost 19 years. Before that, he noted, he served in the state Senate, served as a criminal prosecutor and judge, and had a private law practice.

He closed by emphasizing the importance of education and reading.

“Study hard. Do well, and make us all proud,” he urged the students.

Student Veer Patel said he thought that was the most important lesson Deal gave the students.

“Never stop reading. If you want to get a good job, you have to get an education. And to get an education you have to know how to read,” Patel said.

Third-grade teacher Lisa Cushman said the students had been excited in the weeks leading up to the governor’s appearance.

“We did a walking tour and met the mayor (David Pennington, who has since stepped down to run for governor against Deal in the Republican primary),” she said. “Then they wrote letters to the governor asking him to come here. He couldn’t come and see us, but he arranged for this video conference.”

Cushman said students are more likely to absorb information and retain it when they learn it from “the real person.”

“Several of them even said that in their letters,” she said.

Cushman added that the students really appreciated Deal taking the time to talk with them.

“When we were little, we thought it was exciting when someone like the governor just took the time to write to us. Actually seeing him and listening to him answer their questions was really important to them,” she said.

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