EAGLE, Colorado " Rep. Christine Scanlan and Ali Hasan, candidates for Eagle County's state House seat, debated children's issues Thursday in Eagle.
Scanlan, a Democratic member of the House Education Committee, touted a bill she sponsored that creates standards for learning and assessment in schools.
"We started a conversation that includes preschool, K-12 education and higher education, talking about what do kids really need to be successful in a 21st-century learning and living environment," said Scanlan, a Dillon resident who is on Summit County's school board.
Hasan said the bill wasn't so great.
"I think her last bill that she co-sponsored was too many regulations against teachers," Hasan said. "I used to be a public school teacher myself in East L.A., and I really feel like we need to leave teachers alone."
House District 56 is Eagle, Summit and Lake counties. Scanlan, the incumbent, was appointed to the seat last year. The two candidates debated children's issue at a forum sponsored by Colorado Children's Campaign, Every Child Matters and Great Education Colorado at Starbucks in Eagle Ranch.
Hasan, a Republican from Beaver Creek, said school vouchers should be available.
"If a school is failing and children are being held hostage to that failing school, they should be given the right to leave and pursue a better education," he said.
Scanlan disagreed, saying vouchers harm public schools. She supports charters schools, though, she said.
"One of my goals has been to take some of the tension down between charter schools and public school, because we need to be in this together," she said.
Scanlan, who has served on the Summit school board for five years, said she wants to work to fix the School Finance Act and hopes State Rep. Andrew Romanoff's SAFE proposal " on the ballot this November " will set aside more dollars for schools.
Hasan said, if residents want more money for schools, they should approve the funding on a statewide ballot.
"Put a statewide ballot initiative out there and give all of Colorado an opportunity to vote on whether they want to be No. 1 in per-pupil spending," Hasan said. "Taxes would go up, but at the least people of Colorado would have approved it."
Local schools should be more like Finland's, Hasan said.
"What Finland tells its teachers is, 'You're going to go to the classroom and engage every type of learner " tactile, visual auditory, extroverted, introverted,'" Hasan said. "They don't go and say, 'There's the standards and make sure all your children reach it.'"
But Scanlan said her bill ensures that more is taught than just standards.
"It incorporates a lot of those ideas," she said. "It's about the whole child. It's about the depth of learning. It's about 21st-century skills " collaboration, problem solving, communication " it's the stuff you need to be successful."
Hasan said schools need to change the way they measure the progress of students. The federal No Child Left Behind legislation makes kids aspire to be introverted people, Hasan said.
"The thing is, our current public school system basically is every child sits down for eight hours straight and whoever shuts up the longest is going to have the highest score," Hasan said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.