I have the opportunity to see every day in my work what it means to invest in our young people and children. I work at a nonprofit gem in our state that creates opportunity for little ones to interact with students in our universities, young adults in our community and adults of all ages. Together, they use the power of play to learn and discover who they are, what they can become and what it means to live in Louisiana — our rich heritage, culture and vocations.

It is in this realm that I cannot understand our budgets and policies that would hinder and severely limit the funding it will take to produce great minds that will become dynamic leaders of our businesses, communities, schools and government.

I get to see firsthand the fruits of our current efforts to teach a young mind what it will take to be successful and to make a difference in not only our community, but our state, our country or our world.

We have great young adults in our universities who are doing amazing work. They are not just getting a degree; they are meeting the needs of our world with gifts that are simply too incredible to not nurture and invest in.

To listen to the news of how we (not just our governor or Legislature) have allowed this slow decay and now, if nothing drastic is done, to virtually destroy our universities and colleges, is beyond comprehension. Why are we settling for mediocrity? Why can’t we set a goal to be a state that ranks more in the middle rather than being No. 50?

I believe we should invest in our young people and help them discover and realize their potential and ours as a state, as well. Isn’t this what the others around the world want to see in the states they invest in? Let’s be a state that does not demoralize its dedicated and loyal employees and chase them away by not caring for their financial well-being. Let’s be a state that keeps our best to teach “our” young citizens and future leaders. Let’s be a state that invests in their lives and not only their future but ours, as well.

I have great hope for our state. I hope you do, too. Let’s get behind all of our great universities and make them even better, not worse. And let’s get behind our politicians and let them know that this is what “we” want our state to be about.

Leon Philpot

assistant director, Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center