Position No. 1 candidates speak on education

Education was the hot topic Thursday night during the 31st District candidate forum in Bonney Lake.Shawnta and Chris Mulligan organized the event, which took place in East Pierce Fire and Rescue headquarters.

Editor’s note:

This news story will cover education issues in the state House Position No. 1 race between Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, and Mike Sando, D-Enumclaw.Next week The Courier-Herald will cover education issues in the Position No. 2 race between Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Greenwater, and Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn.

The 31st District Senate race between Sen. Pam Roach and Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, is featured in the in-paper debate with the first installment published this week.

Education was the hot topic Thursday night during the 31st District candidate forum in Bonney Lake.Shawnta and Chris Mulligan organized the event, which took place in East Pierce Fire and Rescue headquarters.

The candidates at the forum were Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, and Mike Sando,  D-Enumclaw, who are running for House Position No. 1; Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, for Position No. 2; and Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, and Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, for the Senate seat.

Stokesbary vs. Sando

Stokesbary, 29, is currently a King County Council aide and attorney.

Sando, 47, is an Enumclaw High School teacher and a member of the Enumclaw City Council.

Both discussed fully funding public education in the state without raising taxes.

Sando said this is an excellent time to reform education, but wanted to save money by changing the way children are tested in public schools. “We are not fulfilling what I think is our paramount duty, which is to educate children,” Sando said. “What we are doing is testing our children, and over-testing them.”

According to Sando, the state spends millions of dollars on standardized curricula and testing, when it could be less expensive to allow state governments or even school districts to come up with their own curriculum and tests. Even though Sando said the fiscal cost of standardized testing is high, he feels the real cost comes out of the children’s education. “If you test for a week, and prepare for that test for three weeks, that is a month,” he said. “If you do this every year that the kid is in school from third grade to 10th grade, you just took away full year of instruction that kid is not going to have back. And that is a shame.”

Sando said he supported going back to the Iowa Tests program. Stokesbary said he would also support the Iowa program.

Stokebary said, “While we are trying to figure out how to give more money to the education system, I think this is a really important time to reform the ways we are doing education.”

Stokesbary said because so many school districts made their own education system choices, there is an abundance of data that reveals what works well and what doesn’t work well in a classroom.

One approach Stokesbary said doesn’t work is small class sizes. “From kindergarden through third grade, smaller classes do make a bit of a difference,” he said. “But once you hit fourth grade and on, the difference in education outcome starts to disappear even when you shrink the class size. Even though it sounds like a good idea, it costs money to hire those extra teachers and build those extra classrooms, but it doesn’t actually produce smarter kids.”

Another money saving reform that Stokesbary mentioned was to change the way teachers are paid, and he said he would not advocate for paying a higher salary to teachers with a master’s degree.

“If you have a master’s degree, you automatically get paid more than someone without a master’s degree, but the difference is that teachers with master’s degrees, generally speaking, don’t do a better job than those without master’s degrees. So why do we spend a lot of money to pay for something that doesn’t make our kids smarter?” Stokesbary said.


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