LUMBERTON —Civics students at Lumberton High School had a live-action lesson Monday.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger met with teacher Anthony Britt’s 10th-grade advanced placement class and included a question-and-answer session. Students posed prepared and off-the-cuff questions to the congressman on subjects ranging from hate crimes and immigration to education and agriculture.
Pittenger, R-Charlotte, lauded the advanced placement students and got a laugh by telling them that he got a C in his first government class.
“But I’ve learned a lot since then,” Pittenger said. “Most of what I’ve learned, I learned post-college, on the streets. And that’s life.”
The civics lesson included a description of committee assignments and caucuses positions held by the congressman and the work they do.
“I’m on the financial services committee, I’m on the committee that gives oversight to all the financial institutions in the country,” Pittenger said. “The banks and the credit unions. I deal with anything and everything related to financial investment and even real estate.”
The congressman went on to discuss the dwindling number of banks in rural areas of North Carolina and a desire for a deregulation for smaller banking institutions. Pittenger is a former bank executive.
Throughout, Pittenger made his case as a conservative and his belief in the power of a free-market economy and limited federal government. To questions on public education and the minimum wage, he stressed that market forces and open opportunities could help find solutions for all involved.
“I’m a Federalist, do you know what that is?” Pittenger asked, and when the students nodded he responded. “Good, you’ve been studying up.”
Pittenger told a story to the group about learning principals of leadership from former British Prime Minister Lady Margret Thatcher while the pair rode in a Rolls Royce around Charlotte.
Thatcher, when asked, gave three pillars for leadership — discover what is the right thing to do, committing your whole self to what you are trying to do, and with all your ability seek to get your friends and family to join your effort.
“Profound,” Pittenger said. “So simple.”
At the end of the session, Pittenger offered advice for anyone looking to get involved and told the group that they “are always looking for smart people” in Washington.
Career advice began and ended the congressman’s visit. In his opening remarks, Pittenger spoke of the rapidly-expanding field of computer science and cyber security.
“Cyber security is a critical issue for us in the private sector, the banking community and the intelligence community.” he said. “I don’t know how much you are into computer science, but there are enormous job opportunities in cyber. There will be a million-and-a-half jobs in the next decade just in the area of intelligence and cyber security in financial institutions and our intelligence agencies.Also in languages…if you will build on your computer, cyber training and languages, you will be a huge asset to a business or if you want to go work for the government.”
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly