Together with DCPS, WJCT, ONE JAX, and the Jax Kids Coalition, JPEF co-sponsored a Mayoral Forum on Education yesterday afternoon. Four of the mayoral candidates attended the event: Alvin Brown, Audrey Moran, Warren Lee, and Rick Mullaney. The forum was filmed by WJCT and hosted and moderated by four DCPS high school students for a special episode of School Matters, which will air on Sunday, March 6 at 10 am on WJCT TV.
The students did a fantastic job leading the forum, which was divided into two parts. During the first half hour, the four hosts posed questions composed by the sponsor organizations. In the second half hour, candidates took questions from the student audience. In each segment, questions were directed to a single candidate, but the other candidates were permitted to raise a "rebuttal" card to weigh in with their thoughts on the question.
All four candidates agreed on the importance of education and on the need for the mayor to play a role in improving education in Jacksonville.
Alvin Brown stated that as mayor, he would be an Ambassador for education with a focus on 1) business partnerships with the school system that provide students with "learn to earn" internship opportunities, and 2) support for the District's challenge schools through public and private partnerships.
Warren Lee said that as the first and only candidate with an education plan, he would make education the number one priority as mayor and work to amend the charter so that the city can have a say in the education system.
Audrey Moran wants to "take down the wall between the Mayor's Office and the school system," would appoint a Chief Education Officer to her Senior Team, and would personally visit a school at least once each week during her first year in office.
Rick Mullaney declared that education is "the most important long term issue in Jacksonville," and that it is time for the mayor to become personally engaged in education and leading community support for education.
If they had to choose, both Moran and Mullaney would take the best teachers (supported with training and a fair wage) over a reduced class size. Furthermore, both support lengthening the school day and local control over education spending.
Included in Brown's education plans is an initiative focused on D and F schools in the District. He also proposed hiring retired teachers as tutors.
Lee would develop partnerships in both the public and private sectors to provide schools with mentors and other monetary and nonmonetary support. Additionally, Lee said he supports funding to early education, but cautioned that pre-K can't be the only focus: the mayor needs to include K-12 in his/her focus.
If you want to hear all of the questions and the candidates' full responses, remember to tune into WJCT TV on Sunday, March 6 at 10am to watch the full forum.