COLUMBIA — All children have to go to school, but they don't all have to like it.
Redrawing of district boundary lines
- The candidates agree that it is important to make the schools' populations representative of the community.
- Raithel and Dickson agree transportation and busing costs should be considered as the boundary lines are redrawn.
Collective Bargaining for teachers
- The candidates agree that collective bargaining is the teachers' choice, and that teachers are supported in the choices they make.
- Wade said she hopes teachers and board members can have an open discourse about contract negotiations, and that teachers understand the reasonable limits of those negotiations.
- Dickson supports the teachers' right to bargain, but is not pushing it in her campaign. She does not want contracts to become so thick that they are inflexible. She said flexibility is necessary when working within a tight budget.
At a forum Friday afternoon, Columbia School Board candidates talked about how restoring a child's love of learning can help close the achievement gap. The Muleskinners, a Democratic organization, held the forum at Stephens College's Stamper Commons.
"You can’t love to learn if you’re not ready to learn," candidate Liz Peterson said. "I believe that starts in early childhood education."
The candidates agreed getting an early start on educating the Columbia School District's children is integral to their later success.
Candidate Jonathan Sessions proposed a county levy for early childhood education, similar to the one already in place for senior citizen care. He said it is important because oftentimes, "that gap exists before they hit kindergarten."
However, kids are not the only ones who need help.
"It's not just the kids we need to affect here," candidate Helen Wade said. "It’s the family, the caregivers; it’s the community."
Sessions and fellow candidate Tom Rose agreed programs like Junior Achievement offer real-world experiences and are partnerships that help kids commit to learning. Dave Raithel seemed unsure about how to make kids love learning.
"I don't know because the teachers themselves don't agree," Raithel said. He said he thinks the loss of motivation to learn could result from a curriculum failure.
Another curricular issue addressed was whether some form of creationism should be integrated into the biology curriculum. The candidates were divided.
"I don’t have a problem teaching all the facts that are out there about anything," Rose said. "I would hope that our science departments would be willing to do the same."
Candidate Sara Dickson agreed, adding, "We need to have the community speak out. We need to have parents involved because these are their children."
Wade, Sessions, Peterson and Raithel were opposed to changing the curriculum. Peterson said she does not think it is the board's job to scrutinize the biology curriculum; it is the teachers' job.
"I do feel that science is science, and it is a theory and a process," Sessions said. "Faith is faith. There are different places for each of those."
The forum also raised questions about the redrawing of boundary lines and collective bargaining for teachers.
The next candidate forum will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Activity and Recreation Center at 1701 W. Ash St.