What candidates for Missouri's 7th Congressional District say about teacher pay, charter schools

The candidates, who are vying to replace U.S. Rep Billy Long as the region's representative in Congress, were split on school choice and support for charter schools.


Some spent little time answering the advance questions on education that they were given, choosing instead to focus on their background or what motivated them to run for the office.


The Monday forum, which was hosted by the Christian County unit of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association, featured nine candidates who made their case in person. A 10th candidate who will appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot was at home after testing positive for COVID-19 but sent a representative to read a detailed statement.


Audrey Richards, who grew up in Kimberling City, was not able to attend due to illness so her sister read a statement.


"I am a big believer in keeping an open mind and listening to all perspectives, ensuring there's a place for everybody at the proverbial table," she said in the statement. "That being said, when it comes to education, I have some unshakable convictions. First, I'm firmly against charter schools."


Richards said she is also against voucher programs. "Public money should be spent on public schools."


She said "parity in funding for rural schools" is an issue. She said there is a concern that higher teacher pay may trigger consolidation of smaller schools. "Paying rural teachers a living wage should not mean fewer schools and larger class sizes."


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