No barbs were tossed, no snide remarks made, no mud slung.
Instead, the two men locked in what may be Delaware’s fiercest Democratic gubernatorial primary ever spent a full hour talking about public education to about 500 people at The Grand in Wilmington.
It was the first major debate of the 2008 election season for Lt. Gov. John Carney Jr. and State Treasurer Jack Markell and it drew teachers, businessmen, parents, policymakers, young and old, undecided voters and plenty of campaign workers.
The men talked about how to pay for schools, find good teachers, scrap the state’s testing program and make sure kids get the best shot they can at a good future, no matter what their present circumstances.
On many issues, their views were similar. Both support most recommendations of the Vision 2015 panel of experts, who have developed plans and pilot programs to give Delaware “world-class” schools by 2015. Both want more money to address Delaware’s high dropout rates, especially among Hispanic and black students.
Both were cautious about endorsing widespread expansion of Delaware’s charter school programs, urging an evaluation of that 10-year-old effort to bring innovation to the school system. Neither would commit to adding state money for charter school capital projects.