School board candidates discuss education at open forum
Increasing the quality of public education was the focus of the League of Women Voters open forum for thecandidates running for the Mount Pleasant School Board at the Downtown City Building Thursday night.
The four candidates, Wynne Winslow, Jeffrey Wigand, Sheila Murphy and Patty Strong, answered questions from voters about problems that they felt had gone unaddressed or hoped to see changed after the election.
Concerns about the quality of education at Mount Pleasant Public Schools and about whether or not the schools prepare students for the real world were raised.
“I have no problem holding somebody back,” Wignam said. “If somebody is not making the grade, they need to do the work.”
Murphy agreed, but felt differently about what should be focused on when assessing whether a child should be held back or not.
“I think we put a little too much emphasis on grade and not level of learning,” Murphy said.
Strong also felt that education should be less about grading and more about cultivating ability.
“The whole point of high school is to learn how to learn,” Strong said.
According to Winslow, Mount Pleasant high school ranks 47th out of all the high schools in Michigan, putting it right in the middle statewide. Winslow said she wants to put Mount Pleasant in the top five percent of high schools in Michigan.
“We have all the education here and we have a wonderful community,” Winslow said. “But our schools are mediocre.”
Wignam said there are two paths that students can take after graduation and both lead to opportunity.
“There are two pathways,” Wignam said. “Those that go on to accelerate academic pursuits, and those who want the vocational.”
Despite talk of mediocre education, the candidates praised teachers and encouraged them to speak out and share their ideas to administration and the school board.
“With two kids in high school, I’ve seen some amazing things that (teachers) have done for my kids,” Strong said. “They will make it work.”
League of Women Voters President Sarah Delia was excited about the nights events and the Nov. 6 elections.
“Voters have a real challenge,” Delia said. “They all seem to be really fine candidates.”
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