Democratic candidates visit Obama, debate issues and make their cases

Maya Lapp, For the Eagle Online

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On Tuesday April 8, 2014 Obama Academy hosted a debate for the Democratic Candidates of Pennsylvania’s upcoming governor election which focused on public educations. This a major issue that has arisen through the Pittsburgh Public Schools and across the state. Those vying for the nomination were Tom Wolf, PA Treasurer Rob McCord, PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty and Philadelphia Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. The debate was kicked off by Obama Academy’s very own 9th and 10th grade Steel Band program, led by Mr. Schrader, before getting down to business.
The questioned varied from free school lunches, to recess, to the major concern, funding. The candidates were unanimous in rejecting current governor Tom Corbett’s funding system and promised to put education as a higher importance if they gained office. They each tried to differentiate their way of finding the money for the increase of funding to separate themselves from the competition, but many of their ideas were similar. McCord proposed a 10 percent drillers tax, and McGinty concurred with the concept, promising to send all of the shale gas tax revenues toward education. Wolf also wished to tax drillers, but had a new idea of pulling money away from failing charter schools, yet another big debate of the night.
Many of the candidates condemned cyber charter schools, but were up to discussion about physical charter schools. McGinty said, “I’ll stand for those charters that are delivering for our kids,” but, as many other candidates pointed out, the charter schools were not being held accountable for their students’ education. Schwartz called the schools a “financial burden”, while McCord said he would “mend, not end” the system.
When asked about the Keystone testing system, Schwartz was the only supporter. McCord seemed to sum up the other’s opinions when he said, “I’d scrap ‘em if elected.”
Those in the audience would most likely agree to Schwartz’s final statement, concluding that “You have heard a lot of agreement on this stage tonight.” Although each candidate tried to distinguish themselves from the others of their party it seems like the true battle of different governor ideals will not take place until the Democratic candidates put themselves up against the Republican competition, Gov. Corbett.

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