Congressman Jimmy Panetta fielded questions Monday from students at Hollister’s Seventh-Day Adventist Christian School on topics that included education, the death penalty, the legislative process and local agriculture.
“I believe that your teachers are fundamental to your education,” Panetta told students. “To me, they are one of the most important aspects of an education, especially at your age and younger. I believe there should be more focus on teachers.”
The state’s housing shortage hits schools and teachers especially hard, he said.
“It’s very difficult to live around here,” said the first-term Democrat. “Housing is tough. It’s hard to get great teachers in a lot of times.
“I think there should be housing trusts for teachers, which give teachers a place to live,” he said. “I believe that we can improve our education by improving what we give those who serve us, especially our teachers.”
Students also wanted to know if Panetta had ever traveled with President Donald Trump.
“No, unfortunately I don’t travel with him,” Panetta said. “The President I don’t think would travel on economy flights: a red-eye back to Washington in Seat 7F. I take commercial flights.”
Col.Terry Schmunk, former chair of the school’s board, gave the congressman a tour of the new school campus, which opened earlier this year. The school currently enrolls about 30 students in grades kindergarten through the eighth grade.
“I think it was very informational, uplifting and I think it was educational for the students to be able to actually see their congressman, to be able to ask him questions,” Schmunk said. “I think he sets the right tone for the young people we have. Our school is Christ-centered, community-centered. Supporting the community is very important to us and obviously that’s his position and he educated the kids on that. I was inspired.”
When he was about the favorite part of his job, Panetta told the students it’s the people he meets.
“People like you,” Panetta said. “People like your parents, who I get to serve if they have any issues, also the people I work with back in Washington D.C.—Democrats and Republicans. There are some really good people back there. Their goal is to serve their districts and our country. It makes my job special that I get to be with other people who all want to give back, not just to their communities, but to their country.”