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  •   Candidates for Governor Answer Education Question

    Thursday, August 13, 1998; Page M05

    QUESTION 2: Please detail what you believe is your most important single proposal for improving public education in Maryland.

    Parris N. Glendening (D):

    As a parent, as a teacher, and as a governor, education has been and will continue to be my top priority. It is my passion. We have made great progress; we need to do more.

    The most important way we can improve our public schools is by reducing class size. We must start with the first three grades, with a focus on reading and math classes.

    We laid the groundwork to begin reducing class size during the first term. We increased school operating assistance by more than one-third in just four years, and invested more in school construction than ever before. We built or renovated nearly 6,000 classrooms. In Southern Maryland, we ensured officials could handle additional children from the Patuxent Naval base expansion. In Prince George's County, we made a $300 million investment to build new schools and strengthen existing schools. And in Montgomery, the state will spend $66 million more in fiscal 1999 alone.

    The job isn't finished. Many children sit in overcrowded classrooms. Many schools need modernization. That's why we have an aggressive second-term program to renovate schools, eliminate temporary structures and help local communities hire more teachers.

    No one approach works by itself. That's why we're expanding classroom technology, teacher training, Head Start and gifted-and-talented programs; and focusing on pupil assessment and accountability and being aggressive with disruptive students. A single approach to improving our schools won't work. We need a wide-ranging effort to give our children the best schools in the country.

    Ellen R. Sauerbrey (R):

    As a former teacher, I have long believed that educational excellence begins at the early stages of child development. I want to ensure that children can read by the end of the first grade through a return to phonics as the primary tool for teaching reading.

    No student can achieve success without first acquiring a sound base in critical reading skills. Right now, 40 percent of Maryland fourth-graders read at below grade level. Many of these students will end up in costly special education programs not because they can't learn, but because they have not been taught to read.

    As governor, I will propose a statewide reading program that emphasizes phonics. We must reach students during the early years of kindergarten through second grade. All schools should have phonics-intensive materials, and provide tutoring and summer school instruction for challenged youngsters. Ultimately, Maryland schools should incorporate computer assistance that will aid students in a one-on-one setting for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.

    Hiring 1,001 new teachers by 2002 will ensure that Maryland has the resources and the people needed to provide our children with a quality education. I want to ensure that reading specialist are placed in elementary schools. They are fundamental in providing our children with the tools they need to become good, competent readers. This type of special attention early on will ensure future success.

    NEXT WEEK: Candidates answer question about traffic.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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