8th Congressional District candidates talk education

Helping educate the next generation will be a tall task if you ask any of the three candidates for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.

“We’re lacking and we’re behind,” said Independent candidate Ray “Skip” Sandman.

Sandman says he would like to see increased funding for teachers.

“If we value our children and their education, then we as citizens need to provide the funding to the teachers,” he said.

Sandman said not only are salary’s too low, but teachers are too often forced to pay for supplies.

“Let’s start turning towards the federal government and their funding process,” said Sandman.

Democratic challenger Joe Radinovich agrees. He said federal funding could be used in increase teacher salaries, and pay for supplies. Radinovich added the federal government needs to increase special education funding.

“They were going to fund, I think, it’s two-thirds of the cost of special education, and they’ve never even funded one-third of it,” said Radinovich.

Making that one of few things Radinovich and the Republican challenger Pete Stauber agree on.

“That could lead to close to a couple of million dollars in savings for the school district when the federal government lives up to its promise,” said Stauber.

Stauber says those savings would go a long way in balancing school budgets and addressing needs within districts. How to address those needs should be a decision made by local government and school boards, not Washington, according to Stauber.

“I would much rather have our local school boards, teachers and parents making the decisions on the education of our children, much more so than Washington,” he said.

For Stauber, that includes keeping Washington and school levies separate. However,  both Sandman and Radinovich say the federal government can provide assistance to reduce the amount local taxpayers pay for levies.

“I’d like to see a decrease in the reliance on levies. But in order to do that we need more money from state and federal partners,” said Radinovich.

As for higher education, total student loan debt recently surpassed $1.5-trillion. That is cause for concern for all candidates.

“We have to hold our universities accountable for the expense for higher education. And when we do that, I think it will reduce the education costs for students who want to go to that four year university,” said Stauber.

Stauber says he’s also in support of two year schools, which he said provides good-paying jobs and quick access to the job market. To address the student loan debt, Stauber added he thinks students should take advantage of scholarships and programs like Americorp to avoid being burdened with student debt.

“We have to look at ways that they can work their student loans off doing something in their community,” he said.

Radinovich says if elected to Congress, he would advocate for federal funding to reduce student loan debt, by way of loan forgiveness programs and others.

“What we need to do is prioritize college education, rather than tax giveaways for millionaires and billionaires,” said Radinovich.

Sandman agrees with Radinovich. The two also say military spending is too high and could be trimmed to assist with student loans, and free two year colleges.

“That’s not raising any of our taxes, that’s just redirecting the waste,” said Sandman.

Both added they aren’t in favor of cutting pay for those serving.

All three candidates say they are also in support of Pre-K education.

They are all also in support of additional measures to keep students safe in the event of a school shooting.

Sandman and Radinovich say the federal government should play a role in that.

Stauber believes it’s the duty of the local and state government.

But all agree, educating the future leaders of the world is a high priority.

Reporter Anthony Matt

Reporter Anthony Matt

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