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Candidates Speak Out on the State of Education

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RALEIGH — Parents worry about classes that are too large, academic standards that are too low and dangerous campuses. They also worry there is too little money spent to correct the problems. They often look to political leaders for solutions.

In her "Your Voice, Your Vote" report, WRAL Education Reporter Yvonne Simons sits down with congressional candidates who discuss the role they would play in your child's education.

Schoolchildren are interested in the election process, just as parents are interested in the shape of the schools. In a Your Voice, Your Vote survey, 77 percent of North Carolinians polled worry about the quality of the public schools children attend.

Incumbent Senator Lauch Faircloth says the federal government could help local schools more by turning more control over to states.

"And get rid of the paperwork, the rules and the regulations that come out of Washington," Faircloth said.

Faircloth favors giving education block grants to states to spend on local school priorities.

Democratic challenger John Edwards thinks the federal government can address specific needs with cash.

"I think it would make some sense to use some federal money to provide incentive pay," says Edwards. "For example, for a teacher who meets the national certification standard."

Edwards thinks the federal government should create incentives to build more schools or reduce class sizes.

Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe thinks the federal government has no role.

"I believe parents need to be able to decide where and when and if they send their children to school," says Howe. "And I don't think this is the role of government."

Parents are increasingly interested in school choice and think government should help make it easier.

When it comes to private and charter schools, 43 percent of those polled say parents should be able to use tax-funded vouchers to send their children to private school. A slight majority opposes vouchers altogether.

Howe says Libertarians would abolish taxes so vouchers wouldn't be needed. Both Edwards and Faircloth say the concept of nationwide vouchers would undermine public education. But both support choice through magnet programs.

Faircloth and Edwards disagree on the issue of national standards. Edwards says it's necessary for parents to evaluate their kids progress compared to other states. Faircloth thinks local schools should decide what is taught. Howe says the federal government has no right to dictate standards.

Parents will make their choice in November.

For more Your Voice, Your Vote poll results and candidate responses, check Sunday'sNews and Observer.


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