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Q&A: Aspiring Teacher and RNC Delegate Darren Ray Waddles

By Alyson Klein — July 20, 2016 2 min read
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Politics K-12 has been chatting with delegates at the Republican National Convention, especially those who have a strong connection to education, and asking them for their take on key K-12 issues and the campaign.

Up next: Darren Ray Waddles, a student at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, and delegate for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Waddles, who is majoring in political science, with minors in secondary education and history, is an aspiring social studies educator, set to begin his student teaching soon. He’s also the state chairman of the Arkansas Federation of College Republicans.

You can check out our full interview with him in the video above, but here are some key points:

Waddles thinks GOP nominee Donald Trump has been more specific than his rival, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, when it comes to K-12 policy. (It’s worth noting some of Waddles’ fellow delegates say they’re in the dark when it comes to what Trump will do on education policy.)

“Hillary Clinton is taking the safe avenue of just saying things like, ‘It needs to be better.’ Well, how are we going to make it better? That’s the thing,” Waddles said. “And, sure, a lot of people give Donald Trump a lot of heck for being too vague on things, but I think he’s been pretty clear on how he thinks education should go. And I think Donald Trump is the right way to go when it comes to education this year.”

That’s partly because he thinks Trump will be a champion for local control. “Definitely education is something that should be handled within the states,” Waddles said. “That’s what the constitution says, and I think that’s the route that we

should take.”

On that note, Waddles sees the Every Student Succeeds Act as “a step in the right direction. ... States should have some say on what’s going on.” And he thinks states should be able to stick with the common core on academic standards if they want to, but “mend it and tailor it” to their local context.

Waddles also says he doesn’t believe that federal gender discrimination laws should apply to transgender students, an argument the Obama administration has made. “I think the laws already protect them as is,” he said. “I don’t see how this became an issue.”

Want more? In light of the allegations that parts of Melania Trump’s convention speech were lifted from Michelle Obama, we asked Waddles how he would handle plagiarism in his classroom. See what he had to say here.

Video credit: Swikar Patel for Education Week.

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

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