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Issues Breakdown: School Committee Candidates Navigate Forum Questions

The boiled-down answers from Woonsocket's School Committee candidates provided at the Candidate Forum.

With Nov. 8 fast approaching, are you still unsure which School Committee candidates will get your vote? Below is a summary of the basic positions and stances expressed at the Candidate Forum sponsored by MyWoonsocket.com.

To hear the candidates' introductory remarks, view .

You can also follow the links in the article to learn more about the candidates and issues.

How would you make sure the school system produces productive, law-abiding citizens?

Eleanor Nadeau: "We do that now. Our problem is ."

Vimala Phonsavanh: "The purpose of the education system is to do that. I want to see more technology in the curriculum. Those are the jobs of the future."

George King: "We have to work on upgrading the education system."

John Donlon: "We need to start educating the parents. The parents are the problem."

Anita McGuire-Forcier: "It's about educating children on character development. Children need more than just reading and math. They need social/emotional education."

: "We need more AP and Honors classes and need to stop lowering standards. We also need to be teaching kids finance, marketing and IT."

: "Technology is key. We also need to start getting kids involved with more community service."

Thomas Wrona: "Education is filled with trends and the trend right now is everyone goes to college, which is how you end up with Occupy Providence."

Anthony Gabriele: "We need to raise the graduation requirements back up to 70 and increase involvement."

What is your policy regarding mainstreaming students with special needs?

Wrona: "During my time at the middle school, I was an inclusion teacher and I can tell you that these teachers need aides. An IEP is a prescription you must monitor constantly."

Hardy: "We need to listen to our special education teachers."

Roberts: "We have people abusing the system. To me, IEP sounds like an excuse."

McGuire-Forcier: "Whether we like it or not, they have the right to be in the programs. I think the answer is innovative alternative programs."

Phongsavanh: "We need to work together with community organizations to find solutions."

Nadeau: "We're expecting kids to be able to learn when their home life is non-existent. It's a social problem more than an educational one."

If you're elected, what is the best idea you want to bring to Superintendent ?

Nadeau: "We've already had those conversations. I will allow her to do her job."

Phongsavanh: "I have three major ones: transparency and accountability, , and holding teachers accountable."

King:"We have to look at innovative approaches and getting ideas from other districts."

Donlon: "The school department needs to find innovative methods of educating our children. We need to go back to the basics: reading, writing and math."

McGuire-Forcier: "My #1 idea is character development. If you don't feel safe as a child, you won't learn."

Roberts: "I would like be a partner in and use my business experience to help with the education budget."

Hardy: "The first thing I would say to her is 'get ready because I ask a lot of questions.'"

Wrona: "One issue that has upset me over the years is that students, teachers and parents decide if the child should pass. I think this is a problem. If the child can't read, don't pass them."

Gabriele: "The big thing is accountability." 

Do you think that teachers who choose to retire before the age of 65 should receive free health care for life?

Gabriele: "That's not my area. I care about the students."

Wrona: "I am a recipient of retirement benefits."

Hardy: "No, I don't think anyone should get free insurance. It's very expensive."

Roberts: "We cannot afford it. The disparity between public employees and the private sector is growing and I want to take a proactive role in addressing these issues."

McGuire-Forcier: "We can't afford it."

Donlon: "As far as I'm concerned, yes, they should get it. But they have to work 30 years."

King: "I don't think anyone in this day and age should get free healthcare."

Phongsavanh: "Some of these contracts were negotiated when I was in kindergarten. These teachers have given a lot."

Nadeau: "Teachers who retire do not get health benefits for life, until the age of 65. The fact is teachers have to work for their benefits."

ok pal November 01, 2011 at 01:53 AM
wow these answers are incredible. no wonder why the students can't read. "Eleanor Nadeau: "We do that now. Our problem is financing."" delusional. "Thomas Wrona: "Education is filled with trends and the trend right now is everyone goes to college, which is how you end up with Occupy Providence."" discourage kids from higher education which leads to free thinking. good idea. theres a winning platform. "Nadeau: "Teachers who retire do not get health benefits for life, until the age of 65. The fact is teachers have to work for their benefits."" who is this lady? teachers work for what? it's the only glorified part time 8-2 job i know of with summers off and a vacation ever 8 weeks that allows you such illustrious benefits, even when you don't meet performance expectations. why should any of them be allowed anything when the kids are getting worse? this was the only half decent answer from anybody all night.. Christopher Roberts: "We need more AP and Honors classes and need to stop lowering standards. We also need to be teaching kids finance, marketing and IT." both students and parents need to held to higher standards. the current curriculum which is absolutely pointless in real life, along with the mass method of teaching. and sadly, last but not least, none of this matters if your parent(s) could care less. thank god i went to private school. what a joke.
Imzadi November 01, 2011 at 09:49 AM
I want a school committee person who has knowledge of what the schools are really like - not some "drive-by education experts" who have never seen the inside of a classroom, or someone who is using this as a stepping stone to "bigger and better". Let's take a look at their answers: Roberts - "To me, IEP sounds like an excuse." Well, my friend, IDEA is a federally mandated special ed law that protects the rights of children who QUALIFY
Imzadi November 01, 2011 at 10:14 AM
(OOps, pressed a button too soon) They Qualify for services which allows them the academic help that they need to succeed. It is not an excuse, but a necessity. Teachers who retire now do not get "free" health care for life. The old system (when things were financially better) allowed that - it is not how it is now. Producing law-abiding citizens? What role do the parents take here?? Since when is it the school's job to do anything but educate? The middle and high schools have an "advisory" period with kids, where the teachers have to "connect" with students in a way that allows them to help guide them in the right direction of life - so they already do something in that area. I have faith that we can elect candidates who have the best interest / knowledge of our schools at heart. Let's hope that those elected take our faith and do the right things with it.
Pitlover November 01, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Just getting qualified citizens to run for these positions is an accomplishment in and of itself. With the financial challenges that lie ahead, I'm surprised at the number of people willing to attempt to make the hard decisions that sometimes have to be made. You can't please everyone--no matter how hard you try. The three incumbents should be commended for their desire to continue, considering what they have been through the last two years.
Memere November 08, 2011 at 12:03 AM
OK Pal, You have no idea what you are talking about. Teachers work a whole lot more than 8-2. There are lessons to be planned, material to be researched, constant professional development, and tons of paper work. Most teachers work well into the evenings and weekends too at times.
Memere November 08, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Imzadi, if you really want a school commitee person who has knowledge of what the schools are really like than vote for Mr. Wrona, a retired veteran teacher, and Mrs. Nadeau who also worked for the school system at one time. These are people who are and have been for years dedicated to the welfare of the children of Woonsocket. I would be very leery voting for incumbents who do not have a degree in Education . There ambitions may lie elsewhere.
Memere November 08, 2011 at 01:56 PM
I also do not approve of ANYONE getting free health care for life, and that includes Judges too. With people living longer now than they used to, we simply cannot afford to provide free health care for anyone. I have read that Judges do not pay into the state retirement system, If this is true, then they should not be receiving a state pension. Only those who have worked and paid into the system should be receiving a pension.

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