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Potts, Kaine Debate on Education

Republican Jerry Kilgore declined to participate in second debate.

Immediately following the Fairfax County Chamber debate between Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine, a second debate was held Tuesday between Kaine and Sen. Russ Potts (R-Winchester), who is running for governor as an independent.

The second debate, sponsored by the Virginia Education Forum and moderated by WAMU radio host Kojo Nnamdi, focused on Kaine and Potts' education platforms. Jerry Kilgore, the Republican nominee on the Nov. 8 ballot, declined to participate in the debate.

Kaine said he has a track record of boosting achievement in public schools. As mayor of Richmond, test scores increased and dropout rates declined, he said. Over the last three years, while serving as the state's lieutenant governor, SAT scores increased and the achievement gap has continued to close.

"I was part of a team that was named the best managed state in the America," Kaine said. "I'm going to keep moving Virginia forward."

If elected, Kaine said he would work to ensure all 4-year-olds in the state had access to early childhood education. Also, Kaine said he would implement new evaluation measures for teachers, possibly tying performance to compensation.

Potts — the Senate's Education and Health Committee chairman — said he believes that, rather than creating expensive new educational programs, Virginia simply needs to fully fund public education.

Potts also said he would "fight tooth and nail" for more flexibility under the No Child Left Behind law, which requires children with disabilities and limited English-speaking abilities to pass reading and math tests.

Potts said he has repeatedly sought to bring Virginia teachers' salaries on par with the national average.

Both candidates criticized Kilgore for avoiding the second debate, and for campaigning against revenue increases to fund public education.

Potts said it was "deplorable" that Kilgore refused to debate him, calling the Republican nominee an "empty chair" and "Casper the Ghost."