ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Daniel Patterson on Education

Democrat Daniel Patterson is running for House of Representatives in Legislative District 29. We asked him some questions about education policy.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?

No. I listen to the teachers and the teachers don’t support it. I don’t think it’s worked very well and in general I don’t support federal or state level micromanagement of local school districts and that’s what the aims test is.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test or would you do away with it completely?

I’d like to sit down with the education community and teachers and see what they think but at least with the current AIMS test I don’t think it’s worth keeping.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

No. If people want to send their kid to a private or religious school that’s fine, but I think they should pay for it. I support strong funding for public schools and vouchers undercut public schools. I’ve got nothing against private or religious education but I don’t think it’s appropriate for taxpayers to pay for it.

Does the state need to spend more on school construction?

That depends, I mean it depends on the district, it depends on where the need is but certainly where needed and where local districts decide that they do have some pressing school construction needs, yes think the state has an obligation to help pay for it.

Should school construction funds come from the general fund or would you prefer a new revenue source for school construction?

Some of that I think should be coming from impact fees, which I think are still a critical largely missing piece from our should-be solution to revenue. Right now for example in the general fund there’s no money for that. Other times there may be more money available in the general fund to help pay for school construction. I think that developers who are in many cases making a lot of money help increase the population in Arizona which increases the pressure on schools need to be paying their fair share.

Do you support merit pay for teachers?

No. I think that’s a dangerous situation where somebody’s making the decision on which teacher is doing a better job than the other, which in general is a very problematic proposal. I support better pay for all teachers and I think the merit pay system can be very problematic. All teachers need to be paid much better and at a fair level.

Do you support sex-ed programs that include information on abstinence, contraception and HIV/STD prevention?

That sounds like a bunch of different questions.

Ok, do you support sex-ed programs?

I definitely do. Abstinence only sex-ed is a total waste of money, it doesn’t work. I don’t support spending any state money on abstinence only sex-ed. I support holistic family planning that is actually going to work. But the legislature has had this emphasis on throwing money away on abstinence only programs that have been proven failures.

So you would like to see more contraception-oriented programs?

Yeah, we have to deal with the reality and the reality is that teenagers always have and always will have sex. That just the reality of what were dealing with. So we better give them options about protecting their health, we better be honest with them, and we better get serious about preventing teen pregnancy. Simply standing back and saying “don’t do it, wait till marriage” that may be an important personal virtue to some people but its certainly not the basis of an effective sex-ed program. So yes, we should be telling the whole story and dealing with the reality of human behavior and abstinence-only programs have proven to be a complete failure and spending any more state money on it is just a complete waste.

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