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2012 Candidate Questionnaire - April 26, 2012 Return by May 7
Howard Houchen – Oklahoma State Senate District 5
Please choose only ONE answer unless otherwise specified. 1. Which of these sources do you use most often to decipher or study education legislation? (Circle top 3) a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. Heritage Foundation Phyllis Schlafly/Eagle Forum Jeb Bush Arne Duncan OEA/NEA ROPE ~Restore Oklahoma Public Education Parents and teachers in your district Other: SELF – I personally read and research proposed legislation.
2. What is your most important consideration in education legislation? a. b. c. d. e. Equipping students to become law-abiding, productive members of society Acquiring Federal money & programs Collecting data to establish a national average Grading teachers and schools Making sure every student graduates and is prepared for college
3. Research consistently shows greater educational success in this order: home school students, private school students, public school students. Will you vote primarily for legislation that will, a. Encourage school choice by allowing the money to follow all students, as was recently done for Special Needs students? b. Seek assistance from and pursue methods used by home schools and private schools? c. Seek to coerce home school students and private school students to comply with public school mandates? Comments: There are many very successful examples of this type of funding around the world.
4. Research done by a number of organizations (and the federal government itself) show that students have more success when they begin school at age eight. Will your education votes, a. Support legislation assisting public school enrollment at younger and younger ages? b. Support legislation allowing children to start school when they can be taught most effectively? Comments: We have entered the age of “pre-kindergarten testing” for crying out loud!
SB1797 was a 2012 bill described by the author as a bill to consolidate two agencies (Teacher Preparation and the Education Oversight Board). ROPE believed the bill promoted the NCLB waiver for which our state applied. We were told by the authors that SB1797 had nothing to do with the NCLB waiver, but after comparing language between the waiver and the bill, we were able to justify our position. Additionally, though the bill was touted as realizing a 15% budget reduction, ROPE forwarded research indicating a larger budget reduction would be realized by sending Teacher Preparation back to the district. The Governor and authors wanted the bill to pass. Would ROPE’S research (you may choose more than one answer): a. Cause you to take a look at that bill closely for the first time? b. Cause you to change your vote from Yes to No? c. Surprise you, but not cause you to change your vote to No because you have no problem with increased Federal regulation and increased cost? d. Have no effect because you won’t vote against leadership? e. Give you additional support for your No vote? Comments: As a Legislator it is my duty to take a “close look” at all bills. On SB1797 I was a “NO” vote from the beginning (had I been in office). I despise Fed regulation of our education system and have no problem with voting against leadership in situations such as this. ROPE’s research would supply additional info that I would attempt to pass on to other legislators in order to gain a “NO” vote.
5. The P-20/P-21 program has massive data collection aspects (through legislation) that have nothing to do with whether or not a student can read or do math. If a law-abiding parent does not comply with giving personal information for their student, what would be an appropriate penalty? a. b. c. d. e. DHS Oversight Fine Letters sent home with the child Grades withheld Nothing
Comments: I have been very public with my opposition to the P-20 (21) program. Data collection, storage, and dissemination by our government relative to our children is more about the potential harms far out-weighing any potential good. A very dangerous precedent to set, in my opinion.
7. Put these in order of priority. My votes will spend our education dollars on: a. b. c. d. e. Brick and mortar facilities: 2 State Curricula/Standards Programming: 3 Federal Curricula/Standards Programming: 4 Data collection: 5 Teacher prep: 1
8. Global warming is being taught as fact in Science classes. What are your thoughts on this topic? Global warming “may” be occurring as a part of natural and cyclical weather patterns over very long periods of time. What is NOT factual is the theoretical concept that anthropogenic global warming is occurring. In other words…the idea that “climate change” on a global scale is caused by humans is not factual.
9. American history chronicles the Christian Heritage of our Pilgrims. Many such accounts have even been physically recorded by our Founders, throughout the historical monuments of Washington, D.C. and many other American cities and townships. These facts are, however, altogether absent from Oklahoma’s U.S. History Standards. America’s Christian Heritage a. b. c. d. Should never be taught in public schools as we must observe the legal separation of church and state. Could be mentioned occasionally under the right set of circumstances. Should be handled at the federal level in their standards and treatment of U.S. History. Should be taught in public school as would any other historical fact resulting from historical data.
Comments: The birth of these United States of America began with: “We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights…”
9a. Please circle “True” or “False” on these statements regarding Oklahoma’s current History Standards: The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are being taught in only a few grades throughout K-12. True False Wording in the Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) can be traced back to the Progressive Policy Institute. True False America is frequently referred to as a Democracy in PASS Skills. True False Many Oklahoma History textbooks have only a few pages dedicated to the Founders and their biographies. True False Most high school and college graduates cannot even name 5 signers of the Constitution. True False Comments: Teaching the foundational principles and both sides of the Founding debate – Federalists vs anti-Federalists – relative to the ideals, intent, and purpose of our US Constitution are paramount to a healthy nation.
10. Curriculum should be chosen by the: a. b. c. d. e. Department of Education State Superintendent State School Board District Superintendents Parents and teachers within local districts
Comments: Much lip service is given to the notion of “local control” yet almost nothing is actually introduced to follow through on the rhetoric. Education is most efficient and most effective at the local level.
11. Whose responsibility is it to feed students? Parents Dept. of Education Oklahoma Dept. of Education
11b. Whose responsibility is it to educate students? Parents Dept. of Education Oklahoma Dept. of Education
11c. Whose responsibility is it to look after pre-kindergarten-aged children? Parents Dept. of Education Oklahoma Dept. of Education
12. Bullying/taunting LGBT students is worse than bullying/taunting (for instance) “A” students or Christians. True False
Comments: US Sec. of Education, Arne Duncan and his cohort, Kevin Jennings pushed the Fed antibullying campaign into local schools with the promise of a few dollars.
13. Overall math tests are plummeting in Oklahoma and in the U.S. The best solution is: a. Go back a few decades to the methods that taught successful problem solving and fact mastery. b. To stick with the new math skills because that is what teachers have been taught in college. c. Most math is now done on a calculator or computer, so we should focus on those more technological skills. Comments: You must first understand the mathematical laws and logic in order to understand the “why” an answer is what it is. Simply plugging in variables into a software program will not foster problem solving.
14. Circle all that apply. In the 60’s and 70’s, discipline problems included chewing gum and writing notes in class. Today, our concerns include bullying, drugs, sex, theft and even murder. Some possible solutions should include: a. Hiring enough counselors to handle all the paperwork and still counsel students. b. Having policies whereby students are taught that education is a privilege and there is a required level of behavior in order to be allowed to attend. c. Making certain that books and curriculum hold up men and women of noble character as good role models. d. Allowing teachers more autonomy to discipline students in class. Comments: Parents are the key to discipline issues in school. Support discipline in school…please!
15. There are several “healthy kids” programs that have a list of acceptable snacks sent to parents. If the child brings a snack from home that is not listed, a note is sent home to the parent, via the student. Is it acceptable for Government to correct a parent on a choice of snacks? Yes No
Comments: This is neither a proper function of government nor an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
16. What is the best path to achieve school choice? (Circle all that you favor) a. b. c. d. e. f. Students should attend the school closest to their home with a few transfers allowed by the districts Vouchers to send students to other public schools Charter school lotteries Remove all mandates on all public schools and allow them to compete equally Tax credits for families allowing money to follow the student, whatever the family chooses I do not know enough about this area to comment.
Comments: Protect the rights of homeschooling parents and urge more local participation and responsibility in local school districts.
17. Every administration (both Democrat and Republican) since the first Federal dollars were allocated to states for education in 1965 through President Lyndon Johnson’s ESEA program, has introduced their own program. Each new program has grown in cost and regulations. What are the consequences of increased bureaucracy to our schools? As the role of government has increased, the quality of education has decreased. As the role of government increases, so has the cost per student. Teachers are spending less time actually teaching and more time on tasks mandated to them. Teaching to tests has become the norm and a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching ALL students has proven ineffective. More costs and more demands for more money to cover these mandates to be poured into a system that is in search of justifying its existence.
18. What is UNESCO, and what is its influence on the Education reforms of today? UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, I first began to notice when I was a student overseas. Things have changed since then – UNESCO is responsible for helping bring classrooms to areas of the world that had no “organized” educational setting. Today, UNESCO has significant input relative to education in the US. The next question (below) discusses the current version of ESEA – Common Core State Standards (CCSS): “The US Federal governments’ answer to the future of Education in America”. CCSS is very much based on UNESCO derived and instituted “international standards”…NOT American standards – international standards. CCSS would severely harm America’s ability to behave as a sovereign -- to decide our own path(s) and our own future. Yet, state governments across America are falling over themselves to institute CCSS. Why? The Federal government carries lots of carrots and lots of stick to “persuade” these states to conform to CCSS and international standards.
19. Will you help ROPE repeal Common Core State Standards from state law and stop their implementation in Oklahoma? a. What are the Common Core State Standards? b. I would have to learn more about the topic before making a decision. c. I absolutely would do so without hesitation. d. I don’t believe current government leadership wants them repealed, so I would follow leadership on this issue. e. Oklahoma has already begun implementing them, that train’s already left that station. Comments: I have been very public regarding my desire to repeal CCSS and will continue to fight against CCSS implementation in Oklahoma. CCSS has put our teachers, principals, and administrators in a position they should not be in. I will fight for them to be allowed to teach Oklahoma’s children in the manner local school districts determine. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 20. Are you willing to apply for Federal education assistance, such as School Improvement Grants, or the Race to The Top Early Learning Challenge to provide preschool education needs? Yes No
Comments: With Federal dollars comes federal strings – MANDATES. Unless those dollars have NO strings attached and NO expectation other than the education of our children in the fashion we as a local school district see as proper…then I will not seek the same kind of “assistance” that is responsible for putting our teachers, principals, and administrators in the tough positions they are in today.
21. What, in your opinion, is the net effect on taxpayers (citizens) of Oklahoma when state government officials accept money from the federal government for our state’s educational needs? To me, the evidence is clear: As more Federal dollars, which are OUR earned dollars in the first place, are “allocated” to the individual states the trend has been an increasing percentage of those dollars being used in ways that are either not directly related to the actual education of our children and/or are being increasingly used in inefficient ways. As Federal money comes with mandates based on Federal desires, there are many instances where those Fed funds mandate programs whose Fed funding is either decreased over time or abolished after a specific period of time, yet, to receive the funds in the first place (and to be considered for more Fed funds at a later date) states and local school districts must agree to continue with the mandates whose Fed funds are no longer funding! This means more local and state tax dollars are needed to fund those federally mandated programs. The “net effect” is an increase in our tax dollars going toward “Educational Programs” that do nothing to very little to actually educate our children.
Signed: _____________________ Howard Houchen Oklahoma State Senate, District 5 – candidate www.howardhouchen.com www.facebook.com/howardhouchen Twitter: @okd2houchen
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