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Comments from Mike Protack, candidate for Governor 23 March, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Election 2008, State.
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  “Leadership for a Better Delaware
 
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mike Protack said Thursday he would support sports gambling in Delaware and dedicate the estimated $28 million profits to public education.
 
Protack, 50, of Hockessin, made his remarks during a 25-minute preview to the Democratic gubernatorial debate on education between Lt. Gov. John Carney Jr. and State Treasurer Jack Markell.
Debate organizers chose to focus the main debate on the Democratic primary contenders and held a separate session with Protack, who fielded questions from John Taylor of the Delaware Public Policy Institute and Alison Kepner, education editor for The News Journal.
The Grand in Wilmington, scene of the debate, was empty for Protack’s segment, but video of his statements and answers to questions are available on www.delawareonline.com.
“I think it would be more appropriate to have all three of us here, but it has been billed as a Democratic primary event,” he said. “So would I rather have a heated primary or what I had tonight? What I had tonight. The only thing I lose out on is the 500 people who will be sitting here later.”
Protack made his comment about sports gaming when he was asked if he would support a tax increase to pay for reforms of the public school system in Delaware.
He said he supports not reform of the school system, but a “transformation” of the school system, and said he advocates the work of the Vision 2015 panel of experts who have been developing plans and piloting programs designed to give Delaware “world-class” schools by 2015.
“The business community wants change, parents want change and students deserve it,” he said. “Now is the time to act.”
Protack said he supports full funding for alternative schools for disruptive students and supports state funding for capital projects of charter schools, which are publicly funded but are neither structured nor operated by districts.
“My concern is about the students,” he said, when asked if he was concerned that charter schools would draw students from the rest of the public school system. “As governor, education is the largest budget item. Yes, some parents will decide to go a different route, but this is about children, not institutions.”
Protack agrees with most respondents to a recent poll by the Rodel Foundation that the state should assume all funding for public schools rather than rely on property taxes. If the property assessment system is not changed, he said, he would support a statewide reassessment but change the tax rate to make the taxes collected equal to the present amount.

He also would support consolidating the state’s 19 districts to four — one for each county and one vo-tech district.
“The technology is there to do many administrative functions more efficiently,” he said.
He would do away with the 10-year-old Delaware Student Testing Program, opting instead for an “off-the-shelf” test that would produce faster results and allow more frequent, smaller testing periods.
Protack said if he were governor he would consider a secretary of education who did not have a background as an educator, naming WSFS chief Skip Schoenhals and Charter School of Wilmington President Ron Russo as people who would do a good job.
Protack said he came from a family in which education was not a high priority. His grandparents were illiterate, he said, and his father was a dropout. Protack said he and his wife, Mary Ann, decided to make education a high value in their home. Their oldest son Clint will graduate from Medical School in two months and will do his surgery residency at Yale and their youngest son graduates from High School this year.

Their sons went to public school for their early elementary years, then moved into Catholic schools for the religious education offered there.
Protack is a graduate of William Penn High School and the University of Delaware. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and now works as a Captain for Delta Airlines.”

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