U.S. House candidates debate education reforms

Erin Madsen

Two chairs remained vacant Tuesday night as the first forum was held for candidates running for the 5th Congressional District.
The Republican candidate, Frank Taylor, along with the Constitution Party’s Renee Lavoi, proceeded with the debate despite the absence of DFL incumbent Martin Sabo and Independent Party candidate Rob Tomish.
Sabo was called to Washington D.C. on Friday and Tomish had prior work engagements, resulting in only Taylor and Lavoi fielding questions from an audience of 30.
In opening statements, Taylor said he wants new leadership and more local and state control over education, while Lavoi focused on limiting federal government involvement in several issues including education and health care.
Both candidates answered questions on the federal government’s role in educational testing and proficiency.
Taylor said, “There is no validity to the Profile of Learning reform. It’s too costly on school districts.”
“We already have national standards, we do not need new standards,” he added.
Lavoi said the Profile of Learning reform is “a dismal failure that’s dumbing down the next generation.”
Lavoi advocated removing the federal income tax and introducing a 25 percent revenue tariff on imported goods, enabling citizens to use their income surplus on things such as education and housing.
The two candidates stressed that affordable housing was important, but differed on how to relieve housing problems.
Lavoi restated her goal to reduce the federal governments involvements and cut federal income taxes, which, she said, will allow people to use their money to pay for rent.
Taylor disagreed, saying, “This is where the government can step in and assist with affordable and decent housing for everyone.”
Making college more affordable for middle to lower income students was also addressed by the candidates.
Taylor said that he would increase Pell Grants and remove taxes on working students so they can keep all their earned money.
“When I was in school, you didn’t have to pay taxes if you were working and going to school at the same time,” he said.
Lavoi said she blames the federal government for the high cost of college tuition because of their “unconstitutional involvement in education.”
During closing comments, both candidates said they were appreciative of the opportunity to address certain issues concerning the 5th Congressional District.
Taylor said he will enforce a “new direction and restore educational freedoms to teachers, students, and communities.”
Lavoi said she follows the Constitution Party’s oath by abiding by the U.S. Constitution and “returning to the biblical truth.”

Erin Madsen covers community and welcomes comments at [email protected]