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It's Debate Night, Rochester

First up: a candidate forum with Rep. Tom McMillin and challenger Joanna VanRaaphorst. Next: the presidential debate on national television.

Although everyone across the country will be talking about the presidential debate tonight, there are local politics to watch, too.

The League of Women Voters Oakland Area is sponsoring a candidate forum for State Representative for the 45th District at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Rochester Hills City Hall. The forum will feature Rep. Tom McMillin and challenger Joanna VanRaaphorst.

Anyone can attend the public forum, which will also be broadcast live on Rochester Hills Television and online at rochesterhills.org. Members of the audience will have the entire hour to ask the candidates questions. 

McMillin is seeking his third term in office; he is a certified public accountant and a former Oakland County Commissioner. He lives in Rochester Hills.

VanRaaphorst, a Democrat, is seeking her first public office; she is a businesswoman and community volunteer. She lives in Oakland Township.

Later tonight, broadcast on national television, Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama will discuss domestic policy in the first presidential debate.

Jim Lehrer of PBS' NewsHour will moderate the first debate as the candidates focus on domestic policy. The debate will be divided into six time segments; Lehrer will open each segment with a question and each candidate will have two minutes to respond.

The debate will run from 9 to 10:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and C-SPAN, as well as cable news channels including CNN, MSNBC and more. The debate will be streamed live online here. Patch sites across Michigan will host a live discussion during the presidential debate; access that discussion here.

Joshua Raymond October 05, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Brian, thanks for the extensive response. One further question for you is what should be done to ensure each child receives the education they need? I appreciate your objections to charter and cyber schools, but we are still in need of a solution. The funding of education is a difficult issue. While I would like to not have cuts in funding for schools, I would also like to not have cuts in funding for many other programs that the government provides that people rely on. With a recession, the government simply did not have the same amount of money to spend and decreases had to be made. One thing that made it more painful was that instead of the decrease being gradual, the cuts by Gov Snyder's budget happened at the same time that the federal government stopped filling the holes that Gov Granholm's budget had created. The school district had been warned that this was one time money and the former Asst. Superintendent for Finance even warned about the financial issues coming, but little was done. It should also be noted that most of Gov Snyder's cuts were filled by Best Practice money which the district easily met. Another thing that made it more painful was rising costs. Much of this was in rising health care costs and teacher pension payments. These two factors caused much more pain to the district than students leaving for charter or cyber schools. (continued)
Joshua Raymond October 05, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Some districts are facing losing many students to charter schools, but most of these are schools that have been failing to educate students for decades. Even when money was flush and there was no NCLB or charters, they weren't adequate. Nothing was fixing these schools and students were trapped. This was the genesis of charter schools. They provided an alternative. Not only does that help the students, but better educated workers help all of us. For a while, the number and locations of charter schools were limited. Some charter schools had enormous waiting lists. Other areas wanted charter schools, but were not allowed to have them. The change in charter school caps also was accompanied by a change in philosophy. No longer were charter schools just an escape hatch for failing schools, but also a way to provide diversity in education. Some options would include charters focused around fine arts, STEM, ethnocentric, life skills, dropout recovery, college prep, or International Baccalaureate. I've mentioned to the administration and various members of the BOE that we have an opportunity in RCS to offer these types of schools. I even know of a few principals that would be very interested in running a magnet-style school. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear of even any discussion happening about magnet schools. Why should we ban charters from providing what public school districts refuse to? I think individual families should have those choices. (continued)
Joshua Raymond October 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Should there be reasonable limits on charter schools? I don't think most people have an issue with that, even vigorous free market charter school supporters. If the MEA were approaching charter schools similar to how the Obama administration is, there probably would be some more regulations. Unfortunately, I think such strong rhetoric against charters has cost the MEA their seat at the discussion table. What would be regulations that would be acceptable? Well, all regulations that apply to charter would have to apply to public too. Some ideas are below. * Dumping of students after count day, as claimed by Bruce, would get a charter operator banned. Public schools that inflate student counts through pizza parties, but don't try hard to keep those students in school on other days would also be banned. * Charters that are low-performing for the population demographic would be closed or have other measure taken. Public schools that are low-performing for the population demographic would face the same consequences. * Charter and public schools would face a cap on total admin costs. The cap should be the same amount. See http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2012/05/another_look_at_administrative_bureaucracy_at_charters_traditional_public_schools.html for an interesting comparison between public and charter school admin costs. I would not support a need-based requirement as even highly-ranked public schools don't meet the needs of every student. ...
Joshua Raymond October 05, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I guess I don't understand your point regarding building expenses. Charter schools need buildings too, so why shouldn't that be funded for them? I would think that a school building, public or charter, would revert to the public should it be closed and not be owned by a private company unless it were just rented. Also, I believe public schools have ways of funding real estate purchases not open to charters. Cyber schools are a bit trickier. They won't have the same real estate expenses and perhaps not the same teacher expenses. They will have some other expenses, such as computers and software. I do believe that cyber schools should have their per pupil funding tied to expenses so that they cannot be just a money pot. Their funding should also be capped at public school per pupil grants. However, if a cyber school can provide a better or more extensive education for that amount, that should be allowable rather than reducing funding to these schools. One cyber school in operation is the Virtual Learning Academy operated by the local ISDs. My understanding is that this is aimed at homeschoolers and not at students currently attending public schools. Most people prefer the setting of a brick and mortar school, but for those who do not, cyber schools are a way to help ensure that they receive a standard curriculum. (continued)
Joshua Raymond October 05, 2012 at 04:03 PM
For me, the focus is always on the individual student. Having children whose needs weren't being met in their public school, I understand that need for charter schools in addition to the students who are just trying to get an education at failing public schools. Unfortunately, I know so many families that are homeschooling because they were unable to get the support they needed in their public schools. Their children also deserve an education paid for by the state. If traditional public schools are unable or unwilling to meet their needs, charters can be a great option. I believe in the phrase "No Child Left Behind", but that means something to me so different than what it does to our government. To me it means an education directed at the needs of each child, moving each child forward. If this requires charter schools, so be it. One may wonder how I can support charter schools so strongly, but still also be a strong supporter of public schools, even considering running for School Board. To me, the answer is easy. I would work to improve RCS's commitment to every child and opportunities for every child so that families would always want to choose RCS over a charter school. We aren't there yet, so this improvement would be my goal.

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