GOP gov candidates debate at town hall
Troy — Three Republican candidates for governor said Monday they would like to nix Common Core and restore local control over education during a forum hosted by the Oakland County Republican Party.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines agreed that the set of standards for what students should know by each grade level is not working.
Calley said the state needs to go back to an “individualized approach” to teaching its students.
Repeated testing doesn’t work if “we aren’t teaching our kids in the first place,” he said, before a crowd about 100 people.
The three candidates met for the town hall at the Troy Community Center, where they answered audience questions that ranged from public education, recovering from Flint’s water crisis to lowering Michigan’s auto insurance rates.
There also was discussion on whether the candidates could eliminate the Michigan Economic Development Corp., a public-private agency dedicated to job creation, and Healthy Michigan, which provides healthcare benefits to low-income residents.
Missing from the town hall was Attorney General Bill Schuette who, as with Calley, is a high-profile contender for the Governor’s Office. One question during the town hall targeted Schuette, polling candidates on what they would ask the attorney general if he were present.
"What's wrong with facing voters?” said Calley, who has been critical of what he calls Schuette’s conflicts of interest with the Michigan State University investigation following the Larry Nassar scandal. “What's wrong with being transparent and open?”
Schuette’s campaign spokeswoman Bridget Bush said the attorney general is spending his time talking to voters directly about tax cuts, lowering auto insurance rates and ensuring that high school students are prepared for the workforce.
Bush accused Schuette’s opponents of meeting privately to plan the gatherings without including Schuette. The attorney general will participate in town halls when negotiations are “fair and above board with everyone at the table,” Bush said.
“The way these town halls came about is political gimmickry,” Bush said Monday. “And he’s not going to have any part of it.”
Hines said he was concerned Schuette would be “jobs governor” and that the state needs to focus on improving education so residents qualify for the jobs.
“With that education, there’s no limit to your dreams,” Hines said.
The Republican candidates also discussed their strategies for lowering Michigan’s auto insurance rates.
Colbeck of Canton Township noted that medical coverage accounts for a large amount of the total cost of auto insurance. The state should focus on lowering the overall cost of healthcare so that auto insurance is more affordable, he said.
Hines and Calley had a similar idea to address the problem in stages, such as evaluating fee schedules first.
“When you put everything together and try to get it passed, it’s just too much,” Hines said. “There’s too many special-interest groups.”