The two major opponents in the 4th Congressional District race have different viewpoints when it comes to education.
The biggest differences between the pair deal with national education.
Republican candidate Marilyn Musgrave would like to see education dealt with on a local level rather than on a national level, said Guy Short, campaign manager for Musgrave.
“Decisions should be made by teachers and students,” Short said. “This would bring money into the classrooms and not into an administration or beauracratic hands.”
Democratic candidate Stan Matsunaka places his emphasis on additional funding and public education, and is not worried about administrations, said Jim Merlino spokesperson for Matsunaka.
Matsunaka would like to see incentives given to public schools, which would allow options for parents who know their kids need extra help in learning.
“Education is the driving force of the economy,” said Jim Merlino, spokesperson for Stan Matsunaka. “We want to make sure those who want to go to school can.”
Both candidates would like to see changes made to the school voucher system. Musgrave would like to replace vouchers with taxes, where Matsunaka would like to get rid of them entirely.
“They (vouchers) take critical money from school systems and put it in the hands of wealthy private schools,” Merlino said.
Additional issues that the candidates are pressing for include financial aid for Musgrave and standardized testing for Matsunaka.
According to Short, Musgrave is very supportive of higher education and would like to see some areas receive more financial aid, especially for low-income students.
Matsunaka on the other hand places importance on reviewing standardized testing. Matsunaka would like to see such testing become more diagnostic, Merlino said. He would like to see parents, teachers and students working together rather than placing all emphasis on tests.
The two opponents agree on a bill that is currently in Congress. The Graham Bill, which was proposed by Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-SC and supported by President George Bush, will forgive teachers up to $17,500 who will teach students in low-income rural areas.
“Musgrave supports the bill and is in favor of expanding the bill to cover rural areas who also need qualified educators,” Short said.
Musgrave likes the fact that the house bill appears to be focusing on public and private schools, Short said.
Matsunaka is also in favor of the bill and hopes to expand legislation to cover rural areas as well.
“I see this as a perfect example of how the government can provide incentives instead of mandates to solve America’s most difficult problems,” Matsunaka said.
The bill, which was pushed into the house by members of the Republican Party, finds support between both members of the party.
“To me, it doesn’t matter who comes up with the good idea, what matters is that at the end of the day we’ve improved the lives of Colorado’s working families,” Matsunaka said,
Recent provisions added to the bill by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., before it passed in the house stated that the money from the bill could qualify for loans of spouses and partners of rescue workers who were killed or permanently disabled responding to last year’s Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
-Edited by Shandra Jordan and Ben Koerselman