Gore faces mixed reactions at local junior high school

by Peter Johnson

Vice President Al Gore and Gov. Jesse Ventura visited a Hopkins junior high school Thursday to evaluate the school’s special education program.
For the “School Days” program, Gore spends a day at various schools observing the students’ activities.
Gore’s visit to Hopkins North Junior High School coincides with a new Star Tribune poll showing the vice president in a virtual dead heat with Republican presidential contender Texas Gov. George W. Bush in Minnesota.
Gore and Ventura started their day with an interview via satellite on NBC’s Today Show. Later that morning, both men greeted Hopkins school children as the children got off their busses.
Many students were enthusiastic about meeting the vice president.
Briana Carlson, 14, of Minnetonka said, “It was pretty cool.”
Tricia Purinton, also 14, of Minnetonka added, “(Gore) is cool, meeting him was awesome.”
Others students’ reactions to Gore were less favorable.
Rob Anderson, 17, a self-proclaimed Republican of Hopkins said, “Ventura’s cool, but Gore is kind of dumb.”
Blake Berry, 17, of Hopkins, also found his politics at odds with Gore.
He said he disagrees with Gore’s financial stake in a controversial petroleum corporation.
Berry, a self-described anarchist, added, “I don’t think I’d vote at all, I don’t believe in the system much.”
In comparison, student reaction to Ventura appeared to be universally favorable.
“He’s awesome, my brother is his biggest fan,” Purinton said of Ventura.
“I think (Ventura’s) a nice guy,” Berry remarked.
Gore and Ventura spent the rest of the morning meeting with parents and special education teachers, observing the curriculum, watching students launch model rockets, speaking at an assembly and participating in an education forum.
During the assembly, Gore called the Hopkins junior high school “a model for the entire United States.”
“It is very important that we have a national commitment not only to the principle of equality of opportunity,” Gore said. “We also need a national commitment to making available sufficient resources to local school districts so they can provide special education of the quality that is needed.”
Gore said he plans to have the federal government absorb up to 40 percent of local costs associated with special educational programs.
“Later I’ll be making an announcement about a national educational trust fund,” Gore said.