School funding, the AIMS test and whether or not guns should be carried by teachers on campus were just some of the topics discussed Thursday night at a candidate forum addressing education issues.
Three legislative District 22 candidates and three Gilbert school board candidates showed up to the forum, which was sponsored by the Gilbert Education Association.
Republican Joe Bedgood, who is running for state senate, answered questions alongside Democrat Glenn Ray and Republican Bob Brown, both of whom are running for state representative. All are parents of students or former students in the Gilbert Unified School District.
State representative candidates and Republicans Adam Armer, Andy Biggs and Laurin Hendrix were not able to attend, as well as state senate candidates and Republicans Eddie Farnsworth and Thayer Verschoor.
The candidates who participated agreed on most of the issues, including more funding for schools, broadening career and technical programs and supporting school resource officers on campus.
Brown said students need to be given more time to take Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, while Ray said he thinks AIMS should be eliminated.
“It stresses students out,” Ray said. “It’s so watered down. I want to give teachers the power back to teach kids and not just pass tests.”
Brown said college-aged students and teachers with appropriate permits should be allowed to carry concealed weapons, although it’s something that needs to be discussed.
But both Ray and Bedgood oppose putting guns in the hands of teachers or students on campus, because they do not have the proper training. They said only school resource officers should carry guns. “I don’t want to put teachers in that position,” Ray said.
School board candidates Adelaida Severson, E.J. Anderson and incumbent Lily Tram answered most of the same questions. Incumbent Helen Hollands was not able to attend.
The three supported the Career Ladder program, working more to attract and retain quality teachers and replacing AIMS.
“Students should be able to graduate if they finish their classes,” Anderson said. “I worry we test too much.”
The three were against arming students and teachers, and said it should be left to the professionals.
Technology was important to the three, although Severson said schools need to also work with the creative side of students.
“Technology is the way of the future, but we also need to continue to hone the right brain,” Severson said.
Anderson said she would like to see the district look into an International Baccalaureate Program.
Tram said she wants to see more programs that work with average kids because they’re the ones who get lost in the school system.
Severson said the district needs to push the envelope more with its curriculum.