Democratic incumbent Tom Prezelski is one of seven candidates running for two seats in the Legislative District 29 House of Representatives Democratic primary that voters will decide on Sept. 2. We asked him some questions about education policy.
Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?
Do you favor any changes to the AIMS test or just do away with it completely?
I supported a bill this session that provided alternatives to the AIMS test so you could do some extra course work or something else to kind-of substitute the requirements of the AIMS test. That I would support, I would continue to support.
Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?
Does the state need to spend more money on school construction?
Should school construction funds come from the general fund or would you prefer a new revenue source for school construction?
Well, right now I prefer that it comes out of the general fund but if someone could come up with an alternate revenue source I would support that. I mean just as long as we have some means of constructing school construction from the state level because certainly we have a constitutional requirement to do that.
Do you support borrowing money to pay for school construction?
Yes. As I said, it encourages more creativity in how you construct schools, how you address all sorts of issues like energy conservation. If you’re paying up front you’re less likely to address energy conservation because of the expense but if you’re borrowing, you can recover those costs very quickly. So you’re encouraged to think more creatively.
Do you support merit pay for teachers?
I’ve supported merit pay in the past. It has to be very limited and very guarded in how we do it so we don’t effect how teachers interact with each other in the work place.
How would you determine how merit pay was awarded?
Well, see that’s the whole problem with merit pay, you have to be very very careful with it because you want to reward good performance but you don’t want to discourage teachers from working collaboratively. You don’t want them to be competing with each other. I think a few years ago the Arizona Education Association supported legislation that kind-of balanced those two on an experimental basis and I think those sorts of measure work. But, again, as you get closer to that goal, it gets more complicated.
Do you support sex-ed programs that include information on abstinence, contraception and HIV/STD prevention?
Yeah, I’ve always supported that. I’ve signed onto a few bills that deal with what we call “medically accurate sex education.”