Adult basic education, special education, the achievement gap and early childhood education were topics discussed at the Robbinsdale Area Schools Legislative Action Coalition last week.
- candidate for Senate District 45
- Blaire Tremere, candidate for Senate District 45
- candidate for State Representative District 45B
- Lyndon Carlson, candidate for State Representative District 45A
- Jeffrey Pauley, candidate for State Representative District 45A
Reid Johnson, the GOP candidate for State Representative District 45B could not attend.
Moderator Carissa Wyant asked a total of eight questions through the hour-long forum. Each candidate had 90 seconds to answer. The below topics were discussed:
Early Childhood Education: All candidates agreed that early childhood learning is one of the most important staples of Minnesota's education program.
"I think all day [kindergarten] and early education is one of the most important functions of education that's out there," Freiberg said. "I see the benefits it has on our kids."
Tremere agreed, though he wants to examine how early childhood education is funded. "We might be able to provide services through other private and semi-private functions," Tremere said. "We need to examine how we do it, before we do it."
Achievement Gap and Special Education Funding:"The achievement gap is scary," Pauley said. "The AIM program needs to be tied to measures. We need accountability if we’re going to fund it."
In order to close the gap, Lyndon said that districts need to focus on early education. "There’s a lot of good evidence that if you want to close the achievement gap you begin in those early years," Lyndon said. "If you want to get those students off to a good start, you build those bridges in the early years."
Budget Cuts: Candidates agreed that there's a better way to approach the budget than to cut education programs. "Rather than talking about programs to cut, we need to be working on giving more empowerment to the local school boards," Rest said. "The most difficult elected officials job is that of being a school board member."