Carlton County Candidates Debate Education
Posted at: 10/23/2012 10:58 PM
By: Dayna Landgrebe
Candidates running for several races in Carlton County were debating the issues Tuesday night.
The forum featured Senate District 11 candidates Bill Saumer (R) and Tony Lourey (DFL) and House District 11A candidates Cory Pylkka (I), Jim Putnam (R) and Mike Sundin (DFL). Pylkka did not participate in Monday night's forum.
The 11A race is a newly created seat and features no incumbent after redistricting.
Candidates in both races were questioned over budgeting and education, including how test scores should be raised in schools and if teacher unions get in the way of success.
That, however, is something that candidate Mike Sundin couldn't be further from the truth.
"We have to make these jobs quality jobs to attract good people. And unions have always advanced wages and benefit packages for these teachers, and they do deserve good compensation for what they do," Sundin said. "Success in a classroom starts early, and we better start earlier. Early childhood family development is a critical part of getting kids started off on the right track."
Republican challenger Jim Putnam gave his points on increasing test scores saying, "I would like to come up with some tax that everybody pays. One percent, two percent, be it for clothing or whatever, and that money goes to the school systems only. And we can also cut the property taxes back. The first way to improve test scores and everything else is give people and students more of a chance and teachers a chance to teach."
Another question came over funding for schools and a "takeover" by the legislature. Sen. District 11 Candidate Tony Lourey said he'd classify it differently, saying the legislature has abandoned a funding system for schools. He referenced a now-gone equity principle under the Ventura administration known as the Minnesota Miracle.
"Essentially, we sent a billion dollars of state funds into the wealthy suburban school districts. That we haven't done before, creating a billion dollar whole in our rural districts and we've never filled that whole. We've expected our rural school districts to go out and levy that loss from the property tax payers in those districts, and that's been something they've been unable to do."
Lourey's challenger, Bill Saumer said he agrees that the system isn't working, but said the real problem is about getting parents on board for their child's education early.
"These kids are struggling right from the get-go. So we have to make sure we do as much as we can before they get to school and then we'll have much better time working with them at the school," Saumer said.
The forum also featured candidates from City Council At-Large Candidates Lara Wilkinson and Roy Maki; City Council Ward 5 Candidates Mark Roberts and Steve Langley; and Carlton County Commissioner District 2 Candidates Dick Brenner and Erik Blesener.