Student-led interviews featured on non-partisan website

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Education Forward Arizona created, a nonpartisan website featuring student-led interviews with candidates running for Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The students, all Education Forward Arizona scholars, spent roughly 30 minutes with each of the candidates asking them a variety of questions about education. This included questions about school funding, teacher recruitment and retention, improving student outcomes, helping more students go to college, and ensuring that young children have opportunities to learn.

Odalis Lopez, ASU student and 2022 Mesa High graduate, won a STEM scholarship and plans to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon. Rich Nickel, President and CEO of Education Forward Arizona, and Lopez speak more about the website and the interviews.

The purpose of this website was to understand what is important to voters concerning education and to encourage candidates to talk about really issues Arizonans are facing, Nickel said.

“What we attempted to do here is bring these candidates together and have students actually ask them questions about real issues and how they would solve those issues…really leaving the rhetoric that is so charged behind in those answers,” Nickel said.

The questions aimed at the candidates dealt with how students will be impacted by the election and candidates’ plans for bettering education in Arizona, Lopez said.

“My favorite part was getting a very humanistic side from them [the candidates] and getting to see that they didn’t have to be defensive, they didn’t have to put a view that we wanted to hear, but rather their plans. And I’m very happy to say that all of them had great plans,” Lopez said.

The questions were very open ended and the interviews did not feel forced, according to Lopez.

“What we really wanted to do was give the candidates a chance in a non-partisan way to talk about their views and their solutions,” Nickel said.

It wasn’t like a normal news-style interview where it was back and forth, the questions were laid out for candidates and they really got a chance to explain their thoughts and plans for Arizona education, Nickel said.

Rich Nickel, President and CEO of Education Forward Arizona; Odalis Lopez, ASU student

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