Congressional candidate David Brill concerned with state of education in Arizona
KINGMAN – David Brill, Democratic congressional candidate running against incumbent Rep. Paul Gosar for Arizona’s 4th Congressional District, gave his take on the state of education in Arizona and its rural areas while in town Monday.
“We don’t have teachers in our schools, our teachers are no longer in the middle class, and the playing field is not level between charter and public schools,” Brill said.
He added that when it comes to charter schools in Arizona, taxpayer dollars are “wasted and unregulated.” That’s not a criticism of charter schools, he said, as his children have attended public, private and charter schools, in addition to homeschooling.
“There are great charter schools out there, but the Arizona Charter School Board is not doing its job making sure taxpayer dollars are not wasted and misused, or subject to profiteering especially by large chains which operate across state lines,” he said. “Our schools are effectively being segregated, because the public schools are becoming the only place where minorities and disadvantaged students can go.”
A level playing field is not just needed for students, but for teachers and rural schools as well. That can be a challenge in rural areas like Kingman, he said.
“We need a level playing field between rural schools and the others,” Brill said. “One way we can do it is to provide from the federal government loan forgiveness for teachers who are recruited and stay in rural areas.”
Education extends beyond math, science and English. Education also includes music and art programs, and when a budget is low, these are usually the first programs to go.
Brill supports science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) for schools.
He said the system now is teaching students how to regurgitate memory on multiple choice tests, whereas other countries are teaching the next generation critical thinking and 21st century education.
“We have to help our kids who are artists who are not getting the nourishment in school they need,” Brill said. “They need to have the performing arts, the plastic arts, they need this because not everybody has the gifts of being in science, technology, engineering or math.”
In society artists are appreciated through everyday things like films, music, video games, photography, and even murals painted downtown for everyone to see. Because of that, Brill believes Arizona students need to be prepared for careers in the arts.
“For me as a teacher, my main objective is that our students, our children, through education can get their fair share of the American dream and that they can compete in the 21st century,” Brill said.
He said local and state have priority over the federal government whenever possible when it comes to education. But he added the federal government can play a role in leveling the playing field so “all of our citizens can have a roughly-equal shot at the American Dream.”
And the world continues to grow and change, the candidate noted, and so education needs to evolve as well. A primary component to staying with the times is investing in technology, and in particular, broadband. Brill says that will in turn help students stay nearby once they become professionals because it opens the doors for businesses to come to the community.
“Everywhere I go in the district people need high-speed internet,” Brill said. “You can’t work in the 21st century without it. You can’t have a 21st century school … without high-speed internet.”