Five gubernatorial candidates agree on most education issues

Five Tennessee gubernatorial candidates had a “cordial hourlong forum” on education Tuesday evening at Belmont University in Nashville, displaying few disagreements and making plenty of promises, reports The Tennessean.

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), Belmont, the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee and the NewsChannel5 Network hosted the forum.

Each candidate favored strengthening standardized tests and increasing trust in teacher evaluations, offering several solutions. While obvious differences were rare, candidates did offer very different positions on two key issues.

On those two matters — expansion of pre-kindergarten programs and granting in-state tuition rates to Tennessee residents who were brought into the United States illegally by their parents — there was a predictable partisan split.

Democrats Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh both declared support for both notions while the expanding Tennessee’s pre-kindergarten program statewide while Republicans – Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell and Bill Lee – did not.

All five favored raising teacher pay and strengthening standardized tests (while lamenting problems with the TNReady testing program).

See also, Chalkbeat Tennessee’s listing of debate highlights, including this note:

Since funding and overseeing public education is one of the biggest jobs of state government, the forum’s moderators said it was fair game to ask the candidates about their own family decisions on attending public schools. Dean and Harwell said they went to public schools but sent their children to private schools. Boyd said he went to public school and opted for public and private schools for his two sons. Lee said his children have experienced a mix of homeschooling and public and private education. Fitzhugh was the only candidate who said that he and all of his children are products of public schools, and that his grandchildren attend public schools as well.

Two invited Republican candidates were absent – former state Sen. Mae Beavers, whose mother’s funeral was Tuesday, and U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who said she had a scheduling conflict.

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