Chairman’s Message

Education and Economics

March, 2014

The link between education and a community’s well being has been documented and discussed for centuries, so we can be sure many more studies and discussions will take place.

Nevertheless, it has been my observation that this topic tends to see much more talk than real action. To be fair, education is a very complex topic, with numerous variables to consider if one wishes
to understand how a community should best approach issues in education.

But that is all the more reason for more local control and involvement in education. National and state statistics can be misleading and misguided; nationalized standards should never replace or undermine localized efforts to adjust to the needs of a community or individual.

That is what makes the newly reformed Vista Chamber of Commerce Education Committee so vital. It is an opportunity for each of us to ask what role we can play in strengthening education at all levels within our community. This will include, at the very least, a commitment to resist the unhealthy desire to distill every issue into its simplest form and then assign responsibility (or blame) to others. Clearly, education is not only the job of teachers and school administrators; if we do not work together as a team, our children will lose, and our community will suffer the consequences. This is not a call to populate the education committee, but it is a reminder that, at some level, education is everyone’s responsibility.

My wife and I saw the development of our three children as primarily our responsibility, with educators, church and community as extensions of our efforts.  At the same time, we recognized that for a variety of reasons, this understanding does not universally exist, and that our responsibility extends to undergird those who need additional help.  I love Ben Carson’s story, told in the 2009 movie, “Gifted Hands.” I also love the movie “The First Grader” about the 84-year-old Kenyan man who refused to take “no” for an answer in his quest to get an education. These, and many similar stories inspire us and highlight the need to ensure we are doing all we can to remove obstacles to education at every level.

Inspiration is needed to get us moving, but wisdom is needed to guide us in the right direction, and servant leadership (leading for the sake of others) is needed to keep us moving in the same direction together. Education is not an event that comes and goes; rather, it is like a business or a garden that must constantly be tended to, or it suffers; a long-term commitment is required. It takes time to see results, but where the investment is made, the results will provide inspiration for others to follow.

It is the conviction of the Chamber leadership that part of our mission, “to remove barriers to successful business enterprises,” is inextricably linked to education, and that local businesses, which depend on a well educated work force, must help remove barriers to education and to be engaged in strengthening education. At the time of this writing, a number of initiatives are being discussed within the education committee. As these initiatives begin to take shape, sub-committees will be formed to guide the efforts and progress.

One of the ways the Chamber is already engaged in strengthening education in Vista is through the Heroes of Vista gala. In partnership with the Vista Education Foundation, on April 12, 2014, the Chamber will host the third annual Heroes of Vista. This highly successful event has already raised almost $80,000 in the first two years, all of which goes to support our students through scholarships and grants, arts, language and technology programs and various events.

Whatever way you find to strengthen education, know that the Chamber is an active and invested partner with you. We are eager to find more ways to ensure that education remains a high priority for all of us and anticipate the positive effects on our community as a whole.

Tory Walker
Owner, Tory R. Walker Engineering
Chairman of the Board

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