Congressman Miller visits Richmond schools
on January 13, 2012
Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez) lobbed a lot of questions Thursday afternoon.
But he only got one unanimous answer.
“How many of you plan to go to college?” Miller asked about 20 Richmond High School students.
Every hand shot up. Miller smiled wide.
It was part of a more than one-hour after-school conversation between the longtime congressman and teen members of the Bay Area Peacekeepers Inc., a violence prevention and education program that targets youth in Richmond and San Pablo. The event, held in a multipurpose room at Richmond High School, was one stop in a series of visits Miller made to area schools Miller, who is up for reelection in November, has long championed education policy on Capitol Hill.
Miller spent his morning stop at Helms Middle School, where he met with the Engineering Academy students and congratulated 8th
grader Kaisaiah Clark, his classmates and their teacher for being featured in a new Chevron Corp. commercial.
After Richmond High, he and his staff were whisked off to congratulate 13 students at the Dover Elementary after-school program for their academic growth and perfect attendance.
At Richmond High, Miller took questions from the students and often responded with light queries of his own. The 66-year-old Miller, who has represented the 7th Congressional District since 1975, told students he grew up in the area, and spent much of his youth staying with his grandmother on Garvin Avenue in the 1950s, just blocks away from Richmond High.
Miller spoke of getting in trouble, running with a rough crowd and even being suspended from high school for much of his sophomore year before shaping up at a city college. Miller would later graduate from UC Davis Law School.
But Miller cautioned the students that the challenges they face are far steeper than those he overcame. “It’s a huge difference now,” Miller told the teens. “When I was young, I could have gone on to work at Chevron, or a steel mill, or whatever, and done alright and supported a family. Now those opportunities are not nearly as available. For you, education is the ball game.”
Later, Miller related a piece of advice he said he got from a baseball coach when he was a wayward youth. “He said the more education you have, the more you know, the fewer people can tell you no,” Miller said.
By the end, the students and the white-haired veteran of Capitol Hill were cracking jokes and giggling while posing for pictures.
“It was really good to see him,” said David Serrano, 16, a Richmond High junior. “That someone from Congress came here and took the time to talk to us, to tell us about how education helped him, it was inspirational.”
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