June 1 is the deadline for candidates for state Senate and Assembly to file their nomination paper signatures and other documents to run for the legislature. The list of approved candidates with contact information is available for every office up for election this fall at the Government Accountability Board website: Candidate Tracking by Office.
Now you have the information you need to set up a candidate forum. This will be an important opportunity to get candidates on record on crucial education issues as we head into the next legislative session and state budget process. It also offers your board an opportunity to partner with neighboring boards in putting on a forum. Below is a list of potential questions for candidates:
- What do you see as the greatest challenges facing our public schools? What is your view of public schools overall? What is your view of the public schools in your community?
- What is your vision for the future of public education? How does your vision for public education relate to the economic future of our state?
- Will you support eliminating state-imposed revenue limits on public school districts? If not, will you support aligning per pupil adjustments to revenue limits with inflation (CPI) as they were in the past?
- Will you support increasing state support for public education? If so, will you support increasing state support by increasing state aid to local school districts rather than by increasing property tax credits?
- The state budget is increasingly where major non-fiscal (not budget related) and often controversial education reform initiatives are enacted into law. Will you support barring non-fiscal policy from the state budget? Will you vote for a state budget that includes non-fiscal policy?
- Often the state budget has items added or removed with little advance notice. After the fact, lawmakers have admitted to being overwhelmed and unsure what they have voted on. Will you support greater transparency in the budget process to provide for more opportunity for scrutiny of these items by lawmakers and the public?
- Will you support placing restrictions on when school district referendums may be held? If yes, do you understand the impact this could have on local districts’ ability to sustain programs or even remain financially viable?
- Do you believe schools should focus more on providing students with career and technical education that prepares them to enter the workforce? If so, should schools focus less on ensuring that students are prepared for college or university?
- Will you support placing additional unfunded mandates on school districts?
- What can be done to address the current teacher shortage issue and ensure that we have highly qualified teaching staff for our students now and in the future?
- What can the Legislature do to better ensure appropriate mental health treatment is available for Wisconsin’s school-age youth? Will you support funding or other support for school-based mental health services?
- Will you support providing additional state funds to help local school districts that have disproportionately high numbers of low-income students, special education students or English language learners to address the needs of these students?
- Do you understand and support the present funding mechanism for private school vouchers and independent charter schools? If yes, how do you propose to continue to fund both the private and public schools out of stagnant or shrinking educational budgets?
- What would be your top three priorities as a legislator next year?
Read More: The WASB Advocacy Toolkit contains guidance (see page 9) on planning for and setting up candidate forums.