October 21, 2012

Southeastern school board candidates discuss issues

— Incumbent Jack Cain faces a challenge from Mike Erny for a seat on the Southeastern School Board.

The Pharos-Tribune posed two questions to the candidates. Those questions and the candidates’ responses follow:

What do you see as the issues in this campaign?

Cain: The main issue in this campaign is experience. Southeastern has been through a change in leadership the past five years. Southeastern has a Principal at Galveston that is in her fifth year as Principal. Thompson elementary has a Principal in his second year. Lewis Cass Junior-Senior High School principal is in his first year as principal. Now we are in the process of hiring a new superintendent who will come on board in July. With this being said, one can see we need experience at the school board level. I have eight years on the school board and thirty-eight years as a teacher and administrator.

Erny: The education system today is faced with many changing demands. There are ever-growing and changing federal and state regulations creating demands which must be met by our school system. Our school system has come to a crossroads and now must evolve to meet these as well as preparing all students educationally for their next step after graduation. Students must be prepared to meet the educational requirements for a four-year college, two-year college or technical school to enable them to succeed after they leave high school. Many of the students in the post-secondary system today are not prepared for the educational level needed to succeed. Our schools cannot continue to teach as they always have and think that this will meet our students’ needs. We must change our outlook and think outside the box to better meet not only the growing state regulations but the elevating post-secondary demands our students are facing so that all students can succeed when they leave our school system. We need to be graduating more of our students and better preparing them to meet the skills gap in America.

Why should voters choose you?

Cain: In the next several years, we are going to see a lot of changes in education. With all of the new mandates coming down from the Indiana Department of Education, we are going to need leadership at the school board level. We need people on the board that understands the turmoil and pressures that our teachers are going through and they need someone on the board that understands those pressures. I believe I have the background to understand those issues.

Erny: I have current educational experience in the post-secondary educational system as an educator and also as a student working toward my master’s degree in career and technical education. I am the program chair and statewide chair at Ivy Tech in automotive. I am faced every day with students who are under-prepared for the collegiate educational system and do not understand the level where they need to be to succeed and achieve their goals. Much can be done to bridge the gap between the high schools and post-secondary systems to allow for an easier transition for the students. Exposure to different educational methods such as online learning can not only be beneficial to the students but also financially beneficial to Southeastern schools. Education has changed drastically over the last 10 years but we keep trying to do things the way we have for the last 40 years. It’s time to stop doing things the way we always have and start doing things to meet the educational needs of all our students within our school system. It’s time to stop blaming the state for problems in education and start looking at ourselves to realize we are trying to hold on to our old ways so hard we are choking out innovation.