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Rep. Al Lawson says he will prioritize education in Washington

New congressman toured Ribault High School with Dr. Nikolai Vitti

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Making his first tour of the district since being elected, 5th District Congressman Al Lawson said that he wants to bring educators' concerns to Washington.

After arriving at Ribault High School, Lawson held a roundtable meeting with educators and sat with students.

"I am about developing young people and leadership roles for tomorrow," Lawson said. "Give people the opportunity after the campaign is over to really get a chance to know me and work with them."

Lawson got a front row look into some of the school's specialized programs, like the 5,000 role models of excellence project, the VyStar Academy, an on-campus bank. He also took part in a flight simulation for the aviation academy.

One of the main points of discussion was the lack of funding for education, specifically infrastructure. Lawson said that 60 percent of the schools in Jacksonville, including Ribault, are 50 years or older.

"I think Ribault in many ways best defines the beauty in public education," said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Duval County public schools superintendent. "As we're using the limited dollars we have for major, minor maintenance, we're just plugging holes and not thinking realistically on that scale about the buildings our children deserve."

Educators like Dr. Nikolai Vitti said with Lawson's experience and willingness to collaborate, he is confident that their concerns will be heard in Washington.

"For him to see that front and center, allows him to go back to D.C. and advocate for increased funding for accountability that's fair and consistent," Vitti said.

Lawson plans to invite Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to visit the schools in Jacksonville so she can get a better perspective on its conditions.