Last week, I emailed all 227 candidates for our state legislature a set of seven questions about education policy. I have now set up a separate site to post the responses. So far, the response rate is about three percent – quite a contrast to the sixty percent response rate I got when I sent a similar list of questions to our local school board candidates last year. (There is still a lot of time for candidates to respond, though, and a handful of candidates emailed me that they would respond when they could.)
One legislator declined to answer and wrote that “our candidates have been encouraged not to respond to these types of surveys. There are many reasons for this. Candidates often have comments taken out of context or they are used against them in campaign ads. People are often wary of these types of requests because the issues are complex and often take a great deal of time and thought to answer.”
One of the questions is about local control. Maybe I should have rephrased it: “Who should set educational policy: school board members who are elected to focus exclusively on school issues, or state legislators, whose elections seldom turn on school policy and who won’t publicly answer questions about their positions on school issues?”
In the responses that I did receive, there is certainly a lot that I disagree with. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to appreciate someone who’s willing to answer questions, whatever the answers might be.