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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Questions for Candidates About Texas Public Education

It's election season time again and many people are interested in the election and voting process but may not know what to do to get involved. Aside from knowing who represents you and being registered to vote, a good way to be involved as have questions ready to ask the candidates when the opportunity arises.

Along with school districts across Texas, Mansfield ISD has an interest in having candidates elected who are supportive of public education. With candidate forums being held in communities or even at informal gatherings, it might be useful to have questions to ask the candidates.

Below are some sample questions community members can ask candidates to help determine how supportive they are of public education. The list was created by Raise Your Hand Texas:

"[Broad Overview]
On financial management: What is your plan to provide adequate funding for all Texas public schools?
On human capital: How would you help schools recruit and retain highly qualified teachers?
On student achievement: How can we better prepare our students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed after high school graduation?

[More In-Depth]

  1. Do you have concerns about public education, and could you share those with us in detail? What should the legislature do about those concerns?
  2. How many school districts are in your legislative district, and which are the largest?
  3. Which PTA/PTO leaders, school board members, and superintendents have you talked with to find out their legislative concerns?
  4. Some legislators have the position that public education in Texas should work within the parameters of reduced funding. Other legislators are advocates for maintaining, or even increasing, funding for public education using various mechanisms. Please explain in detail your position.
  5. The state budget will be tight in 2013. Would you rather raise revenue or make more cuts in funding for public education? What do you think should be done about the state’s structural deficit?
  6. What is your knowledge of, and your opinion about, the current state funding formulas used to distribute monies to the various districts as part of the Texas public school finance system?
  7. Legislators need to turn to people for expert advice when education issues come up. Share your thoughts on the resources that you could rely upon when faced with an education issue.
  8. Do you support maintaining, or even increasing, funding for high-quality early childhood education?
  9. What are your views on charter schools?
  10. How can schools prepare our students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and career?
  11. Do you support school vouchers (subsidies given directly to parents for tuition at any school, public or private)?
  12. What is your position on the statewide testing program in our public schools?


[Broad Overview]
On financial management: How would you manage the school district’s funds responsibly and equitably among schools?
On troubled schools: What would you do to improve underperforming or “academically unacceptable” schools?
On classroom best practices: Do our principals and teachers have what they need to do a good job? What other resources and services would you provide them?

[More In-Depth]

  1. Please describe your education and professional experience that qualifies you for this position. What do you believe the role of the school board should be?
  2. How will you help children transition from elementary to middle school and then from middle school into high school and from high school into higher education or the workforce?
  3. Many districts across Texas continue to experience funding difficulties and shortfalls. What actions do you believe are necessary to ensure that our district avoids a budget deficit? How can the Board properly implement and monitor the budget?
  4. If sudden budget cuts are necessary, what do you believe to be the district’s top priorities that must be protected, and what programs or positions do you think could be reduced or eliminated?
  5. What specific steps do you believe are necessary to improve graduation rates in our high schools?
  6. If elected, describe how you will communicate regularly with your constituents.
  7. What will you do to advocate and ensure support for public education in our community? What resources and services, beyond academics, do you believe schools and the community should provide to support student well-being and achievement?
  8. How do you plan to work effectively with the rest of the board to get things done?
  9. Are you a member of other community organizations? If so, which ones?
  10. Who would you seek input from before you vote on an issue?
  11. What is your position on the statewide testing program in our public schools?"

[Source: Raise Your Hand Texas]

Related Presentation: Cast Your Ballot for Texas Public Education Now!
Note: This post is for informational purposes only. It is not to be considered as an endorsement of or in opposition to a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or office of political party, a political party, or a public officer of any individual candidate or elected official.