Gregg, Holcomb focus on education in first governor debate

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana candidates for governor debate for the first time today and education is on both candidates minds.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg is blaming Indiana’s teacher shortage on the demeaning of educators under Republican-backed school initiatives, while GOP nominee Eric Holcomb says the state isn’t alone in struggling to attract teachers.

The candidates are discussing education issues at an Indianapolis high school Tuesday during their first campaign debate.

Holcomb and Gregg both say they want to replace the state’s ISTEP standardized test with an exam that will provide results faster to schools.

Gregg maintains the ISTEP troubles stem from state officials not including local school leaders and teachers in developing the test.

Holcomb says the state needs to continue standardized testing but needs to have a better exam.

The differing directions that Indiana’s candidates for governor want to take the state’s schools will be the topic of their first campaign debate.

The nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission is sponsoring Tuesday’s session with Democrat John Gregg, Republican Eric Holcomb and Libertarian Rex Bell. It will be before an audience of students and educators at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis.

Gregg’s education proposals include making state-funded preschool programs available for all 4-year-old children, scaling back use of standardized tests and ending school textbook fees. Gregg says he’ll end what he calls Republican attacks on public education.

Holcomb is supporting state-funded preschool for only low-income families. He also generally supports the Republican-backed school initiatives of recent years, including the expansion of charter schools and the state’s voucher program for private schools.

Holcomb is currently lieutenant governor. Gregg is a former Indiana House speaker.