Candidates hear from local educators

 East Texas candidates running for office this election season heard from teachers Tuesday night at an education forum.    
It was held at the Holiday Inn off South Broadway in Tyler from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., hosted by the Association of Texas Professional educators. 
The forum touched on numerous hot topics in public education from real world learning to how to inspire students.
However one of the key issues teachers focused on was standardized testing, which some teachers said are tying their hands as educators. The candidates in attendance said they appreciated the educators feedback. 
Running for State Board of Education in District 9, Randy Stevenson and the current State Board member Thomas Ratliff, heard from educators and held an open dialogue about what changes and improvements they can bring to public education in East Texas. 
"These types of forums are incredibly helpful because they actually allow us to have a dialogue with people," Ratliff said, "instead of an elected official just standing behind a podium giving a monologue, not actually talking to people or more importantly, listening." 
Stevenson said open communication with teachers is vitally important for State Board member beyond just during election season. 
"They are the boots on the ground for us," Stevenson said.  "They are the ones that are dealing with our children everyday and they need to be empowered and listened to."
Running for Texas House of Representatives Matt Schaefer, was also in attendance, stressing the importance of open communication between teachers and their representatives as well as between State Board members and representatives. 
"It's very important to me to listen to teachers, to listen to parents,to listen to professional educators to try and find out what's really going on in the classroom and that's one of the opportunities we had tonight," Schaefer said. 
Current State representative Leo Berman was invited to the forum but was unable to attend. 
One of the key issues teachers touched on during the forum was standardized testing, which some teachers said are tying their hands as educators. 
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