McCleary is not yet a done deal, but it will get done. Right? The question, then, is what exactly does a fully funded Washington state school system look like? Both candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction are in agreement on a few core principles that we can get on board with. Both Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal want to decrease the volume of tests students are asked to take and end the use of testing as a graduation requirement. Likewise, both believe that student test scores should not be included in teacher evaluation. Both are proponents of maintaining high standards but allowing local control. And both recognize the need for greater opportunity for our students of color and other marginalized populations. But there are a few areas where there is enough difference that we can confidently endorse current state representative Reykdal to oversee the 400-employee, $9 billion (for now) agency. The first is in regards to style. While Jones notes that she voted against the ultimately failed 2012 state charter-school initiative, she has said she will accept the results of an ongoing court challenge to the new charter-school law passed earlier this year, whatever they may be. Reykdal, on the other hand, has taken this moment of legal limbo to voice outright opposition to privately run charters, voucher programs, and competency-based programs, noting that there is no clear evidence that they improve performance. Not only do we believe he is right, but we are heartened by his fighting spirit. Reykdal also has the right vision for the future. A former administrator for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, he says he is committed to reinvesting in our schools’ technical-skills curriculum. Like him, we believe that by moving away from the idea that our schools should be university mills alone, we will we able to increase graduation rates while also diversifying our in-state workforce. Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the candidates’ approaches to gender and sexuality instruction: Jones has stated that she thinks it inappropriate to teach elementary-age children about gender identity and sexual orientation. Reykdal disagrees strongly. And so do we.
Read the rest of Seattle Weekly’s endorsements for the 2016 general election here.