Let’s start out by making it clear that we asked Mr. Reykdal multiple times to respond to questions regarding his positions on key issues. He chose not to respond no matter how many times we reached out. His opponent, Ms. Espinoza, did respond.
So…we’ve decided to research what he’s said and done in the past 4 years and share that with you. To be clear this is an investigative report and analysis because he didn’t want to respond. Why wouldn’t he respond? Perhaps because he felt that his answers would hurt his re-election? Perhaps he thought he wouldn’t get his responses posted as he wrote them? In any case we believe that people have the right to know where he stands on key issues that his competitor responded to so they/you can make your own decision on who to vote for.
Following are the questions we asked. We’ll share what we could find in any publication or article or news story/report in the past 4 years. Again…this is an investigative report and ARE NOT the responses from the candidate. We spent several hours doing searches looking for any information on the question topic.
Again…our intent is to try and cobble together information. This is NOT a response from the candidate.
Q1: Do you support our current homeschooling and charter schools? Yes/No. Why?
Past responses: In a 2016 interview published in Seattle Education here’s what he said: “Given the legal uncertainty of charter schools in our state, as head of the OSPI, would you distribute the Federal money to the existing charter schools and provide funding to set up new charter schools?”
The post Our question to OSPI candidates Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal about the recent charter school grant to Washington State provides more information on the $245M Federal charter school grant.
Both candidates responded and the following is the response provided by Chris Reykdal:
I am very troubled that our state pursued federal funding for charter expansion before the substantial legal questions surrounding charter schools in our state have been resolved. Here is what I have been able to gather:
The Charter Commission pursued this money, but it required the signature of the State Education Agency (OSPI in our case);
The money can only be spent on current charters and future charter schools, but not more general “innovation” schools operated by our public schools; and
Because this money was not appropriated by the Legislature, it will require an “unanticipated receipts” process through the Office of Financial Management (OFM) before the Charter Commission and/or OSPI can expend the dollars. The Legislature will have the authority to appropriate these funds during a 2017 supplemental budget action, but until then, these funds are only expendable with OFM approval.
I do not think it is appropriate to allocate these funds to existing charter schools or expansion of charters until our courts have ruled on the pending lawsuit. That said, this allocation question will most certainly be settled before the next Superintendent is in place. By then, the courts may have also settled the constitutional questions. So the question, as posed, gets at our philosophy as OSPI candidates, but not likely our ability to influence this grant, short of a court determination that charters in our state are unconstitutional.
So let me get at my values. The greatest frustration for me is that our federal government continues to step on the authority of states to determine the provision of basic education. The fact that these funds are not flexible for innovation schools in general, but instead, charters-only, means that the U.S. Deptartment of Education has learned very little from the failures of No Child Left Behind, and they clearly are not interested in returning control and flexibility to the states.
In this case, the Feds are using taxpayer dollars to pick a preferred method of delivery, in the same way they tried to use our tax dollars to force us into tying student test scores to teacher evaluations.
At this point, it isn’t about whether you are for or against charters. The question before us now is, are you, or are you not in support of the well understood principle that education is a state issue. Congress can absolutely establish goals and civil rights, and other aspirational interests, but the delivery of education is a state’s rights issue that should be void of federal preferences.
I would prefer that the feds use their (our) resources to help the states fully accommodate students with special needs (an actual right), to fully enforce civil rights issues necessary to close opportunity gaps (a civil right), or to help us ensure that our water is not lead infused (a basic human right). These should be far greater priorities than driving dollars into legally questionable charter schools that are an option at best, but clearly not a civil or human right.
Q2: Do you support teaching phonics? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: We couldn’t find anything he’s said on this topic.
Q3: Do you support Comprehensive Sex Education (including gender discussions starting as early as kindergarten)? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: Yes! He asked for the legislature to authorize what he defined. We wrote an article you may want to read published October 31, 2019: https://swweducation.org?p=6191
Q4: Do you believe the current SBAC testing is effective, valid and indicative of student performance? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: In the Seattle Education interview in 2016 he waffled. He said it was the right of parents to Opt-Out but indicated the value of the testing. In reality he has kept the testing. He’s also tied annual school recognition awards to top performing schools tied to testing participation. If a school doesn’t get at least 95% participation in the SBAC their school can’t receive an award for top performance. That clearly indicates he believes in and supports the SBAC and similar high stakes testing. In essence schools are held hostage to participating in the high stakes testing.
Q5: Do you support school choice? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: In an article in the May 2020 Washington Policy Institute it appears Mr. Reykdal does NOT support choice. He blocked funding for parents that wanted to use a State approved online alternative to local district remote learning. Read the article for full details.
Q6: Do you support repealing the Common Core State Standards with a return to classical education options? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: In an OpEd published at Herald Net on Sept 27, 2020, where they endorsed Mr. Reykdal they noted “Reykdal has won approval for more than 25 pieces of legislation he has proposed, among them returning civics as a mandatory graduation requirement, expansion of dual-language education, expansion of the Core Plus program…” Read the article for full details.
Q7: Is the role of the SPI to help shape the world view of students? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: The answer appears to be yes. Specifically, on his Twitter account (which he uses to promote his views) he calls himself a “social warrior”. This suggests that he believes educators should play a role in educating students in social engineering. He also publicly equated President Trump with Hitler and claimed that his experience as a history teacher validated his claim.
Q8: Do you believe that teachers unions exert a disproportional impact on education decisions in Washington State? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: In an April 2018 article the Seattle Times published an editorial titled “Leadership from schools chief comes far too late” in which they point out “Last month, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal wrote a letter declaring the Legislature had approved “wide open collective bargaining” for teachers. The statewide teachers union quickly seized upon the July 26 letter to support its push for widespread, double-digit pay raises.
Now, about a month later, Reykdal has issued new guidance with a very different message: He is telling school districts to stay within their means and not negotiate unsustainable salary increases that will throw their budgets out of balance in the long term.
How do you interpret his actions? The teachers went on, across the state, to get most of the money from the State applied to salary increases. Take a look at salary growth of teachers from 2014/15 to 2018/19. Choose your school district and then look at the numbers. We found many increases of 40-50% over the 4-5 year time period.
Q9: Should trade and life skills education be increased and STEM decreased? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: The only comments we could find come from his own re-election website where he says Recommitting to Career and Technical Education. Our world is becoming more complex, more technical, and more specialized. Yet, over the past 20 years, we saw a steady deterioration of technical education programs in our schools. You and I had the benefit of wood shops, metal shops, and a host of other technical options. Sadly, we made a mistake as a nation in believing that these were no longer necessary. This has narrowed the offerings of our high schools. It has forced too many kids into traditional lecture and listen courses when their learning style is often more hands-on. This has taken a toll, especially among our young men who drop out at substantially higher rates. We must keep building 21st century career and technical education programs for our students as a powerful pathway to the workforce.
Q10: Should local school districts have complete control without demands from the State or OSPI? yes/No. Why?
Past response: On the campaign website he refers to “local control” as meaning state level rather than local meaning school districts. So he could say that he does support “local control” but the definition may be different from what some people mean. Judge for yourself.
Q11: Is funding for K-12 sufficient? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: On his campaign site he makes it clear that basic funding isn’t enough. He also points out that he believes the 60% approval required for capital bonds needs change (reduced to 50% +1). He also wants the State to supply money for capital improvements. There is no price tag for the changes. Given that the amount spent per student has nearly doubled in the past 7 years where will the billions more come from?
Q12: Has the prototypical funding model for schools and the increases in state funding solved the funding adequacy problem? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: In a 2017 article published in The Lens they explored the prototypical model and an alternative. Mr. Reykdal is quoted as saying “Questioning The Importance Of Allocation Model. However, Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal believes meaningful achievement can be gained in K-12 through either model, if done properly. He told Lens that the emphasis on the allocation methods are “overplayed either way.” Because of that, one possible compromise lawmakers might make is a hybrid of the two models, he added. “Keep the base funding prototypical, identify very specific populations that you want to make achievement gains in, drive those dollars out categorically, and put accountability framework together that actually makes districts achieve results in those categories.”
“Targeted or categorical weighting, where you restrict the money – that would begin to have some impact, and that’s part of what we’re (OSPI) trying to do,” he added.”
Q13: Should union collective bargaining be open to the public? Yes/No. Why?
Past response: In an article published in October 2016 in the finals days of the election cycle at Smarter Government Washington here’s their take on what Mr. Reykdal said: Doesn’t know group behind hypothetical lawsuit, but knows what they believe? The whole thing is odd, but perhaps revealing of a mindset. Reykdal defensively insists he’s not “perfectly aligned” with the state teachers union, but he is strongly inclined in its direction and financially supported by it. It’s odd that he “knows” that a lawsuit intervention, which hasn’t yet been filed, is being backed by a group that is “absolutely” against collective bargaining, even though he doesn’t know what group that is.
He also pledged to his audience that he will “really uncover the purpose of the folks who are writing the checks that are underlying this thing.” What other anti-union conspiracies might he see lurking around every corner? Will he be “absolutely” sure of those too with as little information to go on? His water-carrying for the union against public charter schools was disappointing as well.
He was and is financially supported by teachers unions…so what do you think?
> How do you differ from your opponent?
> What are you top 3 priorities in 2021?
> Any additional comments?
Comment: From his campaign site his priorities are: https://www.chrisreykdal.org/priorities
“The” defining topic in the election is Comprehensive Sex Ed. His campaign site has a page devoted to the topic: https://www.chrisreykdal.org/ref90
If you come across other information that helps spell out his positions please share it with us and we’ll add it.