– Santa Clarita Gazette
With the GOP staring down a blue wave in November, the numbers are not working in favor of CA-25’s Steve Knight. While the district was once solidly Republican, Democrats had 3,000 more registered voters in 2016. Hillary Clinton won the district by six points. The Los Angeles Times has declared the race for this seat the second-most competitive in the state.
Facing no other Republicans in the jungle primary, Knight could have tried to better reflect his constituents. Instead, he voted for the Obamacare repeal. He also supported an early version of the GOP tax plan despite the fact that it phased “out the ability to deduct personal-casualty losses from wildfires and earthquakes… but [kept] the deduction for damage from hurricanes and floods“. He co-sponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act which “would allow any person with a concealed carry permit from one state to carry their weapon in any other state.”
Knight’s campaign was presented with three questions about federal education policy but did not send a response. Two of his opponents did respond and their answers are as follows:
No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds Act both increased reliance on standardized testing within our classrooms. Do you support the rights of parents to opt their children out of this testing? Will you support efforts to end programs which encourage teachers to teach to a test?
Katie Hill: I recognize that we need to move away from our reliance on standardized testing but we need to find ways to assess our teachers, school districts, and find gaps that need to be addressed. I would be in favor of supporting a more holistic view of schools and programs that ensure that teachers do not simply teach to the test.
Jess Phoenix: Yes. Standardized tests have been shown to have inherent cultural biases, and these tests are damaging to true learning processes. As someone who has spent time in the classroom, I can speak to the positive benefits of engaging students with different learning styles in different, more individualized ways. Standardized testing has only limited use, and is not an accurate way of measuring teacher efficacy or student learning outcomes.
Federal legislation authorizes “Congress to contribute up to 40% of the average per-pupil expenditure” for mandated special education services. Unfortunately, this funding has never materialized. Will you lead efforts to adequately fund programs and services for those with special education needs?
Katie Hill: I am in full support of funding special education and I think it is a shame that we have not ensured that these students are taken care. I will ensure that all public education is fully funded including all programs and services for those with special needs.
Jess Phoenix: Yes. Special educational needs must be a priority for lawmakers, and I will ensure that this is a priority for me. We have a wide array of students with a great variety of learning needs. Additionally, I find that the absence of this funding troubling. In Congress, we have a duty to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. I am concerned that once again, a group that does not have wealthy lobbyists is not seeing its needs met. This is part of the culture in our federal legislature that needs to change. Advocating for those who are not able to is an essential responsibility of our lawmakers.
Do you support the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charter schools?
Katie Hill: I am a proud advocate for public schooling. Charter schools take public resources away from public schools while leaving behind the most resource intensive students. I am not opposed the existence of other school options but they should not be taking public resources.
Jess Phoenix: Charter schools began in a good place, as localized educational flexibility was at the heart of the experiment, but now a wealthy industry has arisen whose goal is to monetize charters whenever possible. I support the NAACP’s moratorium on additional charter schools because that buys time for us to improve oversight of these schools. I do believe that public, transparent, equitable, accessible and accountable charter schools that are helmed by professional educators with appropriate credentials have value to add to our educational system.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.