20 Questions to Get at What Type of Pro-Education Candidate You Want to Support

What does it mean to be pro-education? Given that it is election day here in the States, I thought it a valuable question to explore. Many candidates identify themselves as pro-education. Come to think of it, I’ve yet to hear from a candidate who does not identify with being pro-education. The problem is that such a phrase is too broad to be of practical value. Being pro-education, in the broadest sense, means that you support the notion that education is good for people. To get at what brand of pro-education, we need to ask some more focused questions. By the way, these questions also work well for those who are looking for school options for themselves and their children.

  1. What do you consider to be the primary and secondary purpose of schools? What is the purpose of education (k-12, technical college, University, private, public, faith-based, etc.)? Where do you stand on the role of each in society?
  2. What types of educational environments do you believe are most and least valuable?
  3. What is the proper role of local, state, and federal government in the different types of education?
  4. Why do you support these types of education, and what will you do to support them?
  5. What will you refuse to do?
  6. Are you a strong advocate for public education? If so, what types of public education?
  7. What should be learned in school and/or who should decide?
  8. Do you support charter schools? Why or why not?
  9. What is your stance of vouchers and different types of voucher programs?
  10. What role should students, parents, teachers, school leaders, community members, business owners, government officials and others have in what happens and how it happens in schools?
  11. To what extent do you believe in the importance of giving families and students choice about the schools and types of school that they attend?
  12. What form of accountability do you believe should or should not be in place for public and other schools?
  13. What is your position on homeschooling and alternate models of schooling?
  14. What role do you see for standardized tests and increasingly nationalized standards?
  15. What role do you see for teacher unions?
  16. What level of autonomy, authority and influence should local school leadership have on schools?
  17. What role should public funding play in education?
  18. How should resources be allocated and why?
  19. What are the most pressing issues in education and what do you think should be done about them?
  20. What is being done really well in different forms of education?

There are plenty of other questions that we could ask, but until we get into these types of questions, it means very little to say that you are a pro-education candidate. We need to know what you support and what do you do not. Education is not a single boiler plate entity that you either like or dislike. To say that you are pro-education is like saying that you are pro-food. It is too broad to mean much. I realize that we are in a world of bumper sticker ethics and slogans, but those of us interested in improving the quality of education need to extend those bumper stickers into carefully crafted essays.



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About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is an author, professor of education, Vice Provost of Curriculum and Academic Innovation, podcast host, and blogger. Some of his books include Missional Moonshots: Insights and Inspiration for Educational Innovation, What Really Matters: Ten Critical Issues in Contemporary Education, The Pedagogy of Faith (editor), Adventures in Self-Directed Learning, and Digitized: Spiritual Implications of Technology. He is passionate about futures in education; educational innovation; and social entrepreneurship.