Saturday, October 18, 2014

Candidate Questionnaire: Vision

In July, The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE) contacted all 21 of the candidates running for federal and state offices in NE Indiana to ask them for their views pertaining to education issues. Each was sent a survey of 10 questions. So far 7 have returned the surveys. If and when others respond, those will also be posted. The comments below are unedited and are the words and thoughts of the candidates. NEIFPE shares this information so voters will be able to make informed choices at the polls on November 4.

(NOTE: A copy of the original (blank) questionnaire may be found HERE.)

Question: What is your vision for the future of education in Indiana?

(Note: Candidates are listed by district, and by alphabetical order within districts)

Candidates for State Representative

Charles Odier, D-52: I would like to see a system where all children can have the chance to succeed and where a test score is not all that matters. Students need to learn all about life and how to plan for the future. Each student’s own talents and dreams can be helped by a teacher who understands that not everyone is the same. Our students’ futures are what are at stake. Let’s motivate them to be free thinkers who know that anything is possible. Let’s help them to discover that the world is waiting for them.

Phil GiaQuinta, D-80: I would like to see the $300 million dollars cut from the state budget a few years ago restored. I'd like to see vouchers eliminated, and charter schools capped. Charter schools should not be allowed to operate at all in successful school districts. I'd like to see kindergarten and pre-k fully funded.

Thad Gerardot, D-81: Providing a high quality education for all Hoosiers is a best investment we can make in the future of our state. I speak with parents and educations in our community every day, and they constantly tell me that they’re scared about the state of our education system in Indiana. They hate to see our schools failing. We’ve been on the same path for the past 10 years, so I think it’s time to reevaluate our priorities. Our children’s education should be our top priority, and we must invest in all levels of education, from Pre-K all the way through post secondary and higher education. That means that we MUST stop slashing education funding, especially at a time that our state is hoarding a $2 billion surplus of taxpayer dollars. It’s good for Hoosier children, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for Indiana’s future.

Mike Wilber, D-82: I would like to see a strong public education system that is adequately funded to provide the best education possible to all Hoosier students. An educational system that rewards and recruits the best licensed educators that this country has to offer. A system that does not judge a students progress or a teachers effectiveness by a standardized test score. I would also like to see a public education system that focuses heavily on parental involvement in a childs education. The foundation for a good education starts at home.

Providing we can elect the right leadership at the statehouse, I think that the primary focus should be returning school funding back to levels that we had prior to the property tax caps. Teachers should have adequate supplies in the classroom without having to beg for or buy the essentials. Teachers should also be fairly compensated to encourage future generations of educators.

The next focus should be placed on early childhood education by first fully funding all day kindergarten, followed by the development of pre-K classes.

Fred Haigh, D-84: Our educational future has been dramatically changed during the past 10 years. Most of these changes have been detrimental to the federal and state mandates for public education. If this trend continues, Indiana will slowly lose to other states in its ability to attract young parents and new and expanded business ventures. Indiana is currently ranked last among all states and the District of Columbia in the percentage of positive change in average salaries of public school teachers over those same ten years. This statistic speaks volumes on Indiana’s interest in the future of education. This lack of progress must change. I have hope that Indiana will become more progressive and more committed to educating its future leaders. I plan to make that happen.

Candidates for State Senate

Jack Morris, D-15: My vision for the future of education in Indiana starts with fully restoring funding for public education and preventing tax dollars from being used for private schools. This would also include fully funding full time kindergarten AND funding early childhood learning for those in a poverty setting under the guidance of the local school board. Likewise, I envision return of authority for management of schools to the local school boards with general guidelines established by the elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. I would eliminate any agency such as the Center for Education and Career Innovation that duplicates or is in a position to usurp the authority of the elected Superintendent. I also envision reworking the selection process for members of the State Board of Education to return it to being the unbiased Board initially intended.

I would also seek to limit the federal governments involvement to assuring the basic rights of all citizens to a quality public education are preserved but leave the application of that goal to the states with only very limited exceptions. Clearly the federal government could step in if there is a pattern of inequality in any phase of education.

My vision also includes the local school boards, under broad guidelines from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Board of Education, adopting methods for evaluation of the performance of the schools, teachers and students consistent with the specific makeup of the community they serve.

I would encourage use of the study put out by NEA and others in December 2013 as a guideline for evaluation of our schools and the development of the broad guidelines by the state as well as a guideline for the more specific standards to be adopted by local school boards.

Candidates for U. S. Representative

Justin Kuhnle, D-3: My vision for education’s future is the availability of quality education, from pre- K to 12th, for all children and complete support for the teachers providing for the needs of the kids in their classroom. Teachers should have more control in how they develop the curriculum in their schools. There should be national involvement with the federal government having guidelines in place for all grades and then providing resources to the schools so they may develop curriculum to fit the needs of their schools.


The following candidates did not provide a response the the questions. (Answers from candidate questionnaires will be added to this page as they are returned.)

Candidates for State Representative
Dan Leonard, R-50
Dennis Zent, R-51
Benjamin Smaltz, R-52
Matt Lehman, R-79
Martin Carbaugh, R-81
David Ober, R-82
Christopher Judy, R-83
Bob Morris, R-84
Casey Cox, R-85

Candidates for State Senate
Dennis Kruse, R-14
Liz Brown, R-15
Jim Banks, R-17
Travis Holdman, R-19

Candidates for U.S. Representative
Marlin Stutzman, R-3

Complete Responses

Click the candidate's name below to see their entire questionnaire, including a statement of their vision for the future of education in Indiana. NOTE: Only those candidates who returned a questionnaire are listed.



  • Justin Kuhnle, candidate for U.S. Representative Indiana District 3

No comments: