Candidates tackle education issues during Roanoke forum

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Candidates from two contested House of Delegates races joined retired teachers for a legislative forum Monday in Roanoke.

From the 8th District, Republican Greg Habeeb, and Democratic Challenger Steve McBride took part in the discussion.

And from the 17th District, Republican Chris Head and Democratic opponent, Djuna Osborne joined members of the Virginia Retired Teachers Association for the forum at the Roanoke Country Club.

The candidates found common ground on issues such as local control of the school calendar, and the value of pre-K education, and sharp divisons on Charter schools.

Their differences also played out in their top priorities for education.

"The biggest thing for me has always been SOL reform," said Delegate Greg Habeeb, a Republican from Salem. "We've got to continue to reform our education model where it's focused on learning, not grades. I will continue to fight for that."

"Over the past several years, the funding formula for Virginia has changed, and we need to get it back to pre-recession era levels," said Habeeb's Democratic challenger Steve McBride, "so we can get our support staff hired and make sure we are getting high quality education to all of our students."

"My top prioritiy is really workforce development with education," said Delegate Chirs Head, a Republican who lives in Botetourt County, "and taking the schools that we have and tying them together to make sure we are not just focusing on the top 15% academically and the bottom 15%, but that middle 70%.

"I am a big proponent of public schools," said Head's Democratic opponent Djuna Osborne, "and making sure that they are well-funded including teacher pay, including having the necessary resources to fulfill their standards of education."