The ballots are showing up in the mail and people are starting to vote. For those who consider education one of the cornerstones of our future in Washington State you have a choice to make. Two candidates who differ in various ways. Based on their responses to questions we bring you a list of nine (9) questions with the side-by-side responses to each in the candidates own words. No summary from us…just their words. If you don’t want to scroll through the page here is the document as a pdf: ospi-candidate-position-summary-comparison-2016
We’ve set up tables for each of the questions with columns for each candidate. If the finance side of the equation is important to you then here are links to the Washington State PDC (Elections) pages for each candidate that shows who has contributed to their campaign and how much.
Other stories we’ve run:
OSPI Elections Page: http://www.swweducation.org/?page_id=1463
OSPI Candidate Finance Analysis: http://www.swweducation.org/?p=3266
Vocational Stances: http://www.swweducation.org/?p=3308
Link to the Superintendent Page with other details and responses including their responses to the WEA questionnaire: http://www.swweducation.org/?page_id=1463
|What’s your position on Common Core?
|I was on the team that looked at the first draft of CCSS and provided feedback on the ELA standards. In fact, I provided feedback to the federal government on the ELA standards at least 2 other times. I do not believe they are bad standards. In fact, they address issues around language and language acquisition that I find important and also provided educators with recommendations for texts that were more expansive than what is typically assigned in schools. There was an attempt to ensure the literature being read would represent a greater variety of backgrounds. That being said, I must admit that I did not play a role in working with the math standards and have heard from many that there are great concerns with these standards. I believe we need to look at the developmental appropriateness of both the math and ELA standards, particularly at the earlier grades. I think it is also important to acknowledge the difference between standards, curriculum, instruction/pedagogy and testing. They are not the same. The standards are like a road map to help educators know where to go. In my opinion, if we could eliminate the reliance on high-stakes testing, we could eliminate the pressure for educators to “hit every standard,” which is what has happened in recent years. I would like to see more of a focus in our conversations about effective instruction – helping teachers develop more effective practices, especially pertaining to serving students of color, ELL students and SPED students. At this point, I am concerned that, if we were to change the standards again, it would be the 3rd set in the last 10 years.
|We owe it to all of our children to live up to the ideal of Common Core, which is to enable students to master the skills to be productive citizens in our modern economy. Therefore, I support a clear set of standards, by grade level, for all students. However, the Common Core standards need revisions, especially in the early grades. When I began my teaching career, we truly had few, if any standards in my subject area (social studies). From one history teacher to another you could teach to completely different learning objectives. So having standards provides the opportunity to build confidence in our system from those who pay the bills (citizen taxpayers). In addition, having consistent standards in the system helps to ensure students who move from one district to another, or one state to another, don’t miss important concepts they’ll need to understand in order to succeed. This is particularly important for children of migrant families and children in military families. On balance, I support the standards, but I also know they need to continuously be improved, revised, and updated as our educators continue to align materials and lessons to the standards. A more complete understanding of my comprehensive education values can be found at www.chrisreykdal.com. We should treat standards as living documents that evolve as we learn more about students and our economy. This is why the voice of the educator MUST be the loudest voice when it comes to standards and evaluating student competency as measured against those standards. Corporate reformers will always write standards for their short-term interests – profiting off of materials and tests aligned to the standards; educators, however, have a much longer vision of student success in a changing society. While critical thinking must be a constant expectation, specific tasks, lessons, and even benchmarks need to be informed by current practice – on-the-ground practice! The role of OSPI and other decision makers is to make sure that our standards are used to support student growth and student interventions. We must do this while keeping for-profit interests in check. If we learned anything from the failure of No Child Left Behind, it is that one-size-fits-all does not work – not between the states and not even within a state. One of the biggest issues with Common Core is with its implementation. Students grow and learn at different rates. Students do not benefit from rigid timelines that fail them and hold them back. Instead, they need the necessary resources to achieve standards based on their individual growth plans. While Common Core is not ideal, we should not simply throw out the standards while we are battling to restore local control of schools and classroom control of curriculum. We can have high standards AND local control!
|What’s your position on the SBAC and other testing?
|I believe the purpose of testing should be to inform instruction and help educators determine areas of focus for their instruction. I do not believe summative testing should ever be used to determine if students should move on or not. I believe results should be returned quickly in order to immediately provide feedback. Testing should not take weeks of time to deliver. The focus of our time with students should be on instruction and learning. For all of these reasons, I am NOT a fan of SBAC. The current ESSA requires a state-level assessment, and I believe some assessment allows us to learn about both our students and gaps in instruction. The current SBA is putting undo pressure on the system. The pressure on our young students, in particular, is onerous. I would like to see a greater emphasis on formative assessment (short snapshots throughout the year). If those assessments could be aggregated, I believe they would give us a clearer picture of student growth and would allow educators to have more timely feedback about the effectiveness of their instruction. You do not ask this question, but I would add that I do NOT believe any student tests should be associated with teacher evaluation. More specifically, if formative assessments become our norm, looking at growth is critical, but to associate a particular range of final scores with teacher evaluation is inappropriate and dangerous and would discourage teachers from choosing to work in communities where test scores have always been low.
|While I support utilizing standards to ensure equitable access to a quality education, what I do not support is tying a student’s graduation to the Smarter Balanced Assessments. I have also been a legislative leader trying to ensure that the Smarter Balanced Assessment results are not inappropriately linked to teacher evaluations. Credible research to support so called “value added models” (VAM) does not exist! As a legislative leader, I have built a bi-partisan coalitions to replace “The Test” as a single graduation requirement with the option to show mastery through actual course-based alternatives. I have no problem with students taking assessments to help measure state, district, and even school-level progress, but EVERY student should have the right to take and pass courses, aligned to standards, as an alternative to the singular test. Both formative and summative assessments must be used to create specific interventions to propel students to further success. When we use tests to deny students’ growth and progress, we have failed students, communities, and taxpayers. We have passed my signature legislation four times in the House of Representatives to ensure this local, school-based flexibility– the last time by an 87-10 vote. The Senate, at the urging of corporate Washington, refused to budge off of their test-only mantra. They insist that every student be judged by “an objective standard measure”, a.k.a. a standardized test, to determine graduation. It is tragic that our current state law, which provides for basic education up to the age of 21, is trumped by for-profit motives that aim to fail kids by the age of 18. This serves nobody but those who seek an ideological battle to privatize and commoditize our schools, our assessments, and ultimately, our kids. And, while state assessments can help measure state, district and school level progress – they should never be the only measure used to determine how to improve. Many factors impact how schools and districts perform on assessments, and it is critical that local schools take this context into account as they review their results.
|What’s your position on 1351 (smaller class room size)
|Teachers need smaller class sizes, especially K-3 (we need to start there, because there is greater impact for the cost). However, the entire process of funding this bill must be addressed – funding the cost of more classrooms, where needed, and providing incentives/better compensation for teachers, so we can recruit/retain more in this era of teacher shortage.
|I strongly supported I-1351, and was one of the few legislators that voted against its suspension. I was also one of the early legislative endorsers of I-1351. The initiative was about a lot more than class size reductions; it was also about providing additional services and resources to meet the needs of the whole-child – counselors, nurses, librarians, custodians, facilities, and school principals (a must have with the rapid expansion of TPEP). To achieve 100% graduation and prepare all of our students to be career and college ready, we must recognize that I-1351 represents the ample funding that is ultimately required by the McCleary funding mandate. I-1351 implements the fully funded prototypical model that was promised in ESHB 2261 and is a key step in moving to 100% graduation by focusing on the whole-child and the whole-school.
|What’s your position on McCleary?
|I was the educator who testified in the McCleary case. My testimony played a huge role in turning the case, because it represented the voices of many educators and communities where resources are lacking. It is my opinion that our Legislature does not have the political will to do what is right by the students and staff of Washington state’s public schools. It is the PARAMOUNT duty of the state. When the determination was made on the first day of the 2016 session that no significant progress would be made on McCleary, that was a very clear message to the people of Washington state. Is this a difficult issue? Yes! However, we can’t wait! The funding cliff is coming next year. There are districts who will be required to lay off a large number of teachers, because they will not have the budget to afford compensation. The Legislature must take action. In my opinion, the priorities for funding are as follows – fix the levy situation (levies may remain to supplement the general education and staff budget – for special programs), provide funding for cost-of-living increases, provide funding for capital projects and incentives for staff in order to implement 1351, fund full-day kindergarten (if we say we’re committed to equity, we need to invest on the front end, in our most vulnerable populations). In order to acquire those funds, the state tax system must become more progressive, loop holes must be closed for our largest corporations who are paying the least amount of taxes, and we must have greater access to lottery monies.
|The McCleary ruling is often understood to only require funding for limited parts of K-12 education by 2018. The truth is that it actually requires the state to provide the ample funding that is called for in the constitution, and to not rely on local levies to meet our basic education requirements. To fully fund our system we need to align our 100% graduation goal (a state law) with the resources necessary to achieve this goal. I-1351, for example, would have truly moved us closer to that goal. Yes, it requires more investment, but in a state budget that has slipped from 7% of total economic activity to less than 5%, we have the capacity in this economy to handle substantially more investment in public K-12 education and higher education without putting economic growth at risk. We can go beyond the tenets of McCleary, and still keep our tax burden below where we were thirty years ago, before the current tax revolt and assault on public education began. We don’t lack solutions here, we lack political courage to strike a compromise. There are solid Republican ideas to address parts of McCleary (less dependence on local levies) and there are solid Democratic ideas to address parts of McCleary (more resources – namely a capital gains tax). We must work together to find a solution that meets the needs of our current students and our future economy, as well as the interests of our taxpayers and our larger communities. We need bipartisan tax reform to ensure stability in education funding without reducing other critical services that support our kids and communities! The next Superintendent of Public Instruction will have to be a credible voice that bridges the ideological divisions in our legislature. OSPI needs to leverage its tremendous data resources and access to local practitioners (teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards, etc.) to offer credible bi-partisan solutions and advocacy for McCleary and beyond. As a legislator, former teacher, former school board member, and public-sector finance executive, I have a reputation for bringing people together (assessment fixes, student privacy, graduation requirements, dual credit, CTE, financial aid, and much more) to provide real solutions. With over 40 current and former legislators already endorsing my campaign for OSPI, they are sending a strong signal that I can transform the office to one of collaborative policy making; of lifting up local voices; and of offering credible solutions that bring political opponents together.
|What’s your position on Charter Schools?
|Charter school are not good for our state, particularly because they are not held accountable to the public, and because it is not a wise investment to pay for additional infrastructure (admin, janitorial, nutrition services) for each individual charter school. When we cannot even afford to fully fund the schools we have, charter schools should not be on the table. Furthermore, staff in charter schools often do not have the protection of a union nor to much-needed benefits. Although charter schools claim to better serve black and brown students, the research on the movement would demonstrate otherwise. Charter schools tend to have more punitive disciplinary practices and often cannot serve the most vulnerable students (ELL, SPED) well, due to limits in staffing.
|While I support learning opportunities that meet students’unique needs and interests, I do not support Charter Schools as they are defined around the country. They are not “common schools” and therefore should not get direct appropriation from the Legislature (regardless of the fund source). We can continue to have innovative schools and even contracted schools, but they MUST be authorized by local school boards with financial and accountability oversight by the local board. The voters who elect local board members should be responsible for the schools within their community, including any and all innovative schools that receive taxpayer dollars. We have many innovative programs and schools today – skills centers, magnet schools, choice schools, contract programs, on-line programs, dual credit contracts, and so much more. In every case, the local board has an authorizing or financial relationship, which ensures responsible stewardship of resources and equitable standards for all students. In short, local communities need elected officials to hold accountable if something goes wrong. With pure charter schools, they are often just a funnel of state appropriations to out-of-state corporations or “non-profits” that establish and run the school. Whether you support charters or not, it is undeniable that a much larger share of their budgets are siphoned out-of-state to whichever companies are involved with the leased facilities, purchased curriculum, purchased exams, corporate overhead, national marketing, and the list goes on.
|What does “fully fund education in Washington State” mean to you?
|If we were to “fully fund education in Washington state,” school districts would not have to depend so heavily on levies and bonds (which currently bakes inequity into our system). A fully-funded system would ensure that every year, every educator receives a cost-of-living increase to keep salaries in step with inflation. A fully-funded system would pay for the capital projects that will be necessary to shrink class sizes and provide incentives to increase the number of students going into the teaching profession. A fully-funded system will provide staff with a livable wage, one that differs based on the cost-of-living in each community but one that honors the very difficult work we ask educators to do. A fullyfunded system would provide additional financial support, beginning with our highest-poverty school districts to ensure each is able to provide full-day kindergarten to every student. A fully-funded system would also provide resources to help systems take care of the social-emotional needs of students. Although there is variance in the amount of money this would require, it is my opinion that a fully-funded system will cost upwards of $10 billion. Fully funding education in the state of Washington means doing our part to make sure zip code does not continue to be the greatest predictor of a student’s school experience.
|Our public education system needs to maintain its purpose as the great equalizer, providing ALL students with the opportunities they need to meet their potential and graduate career and college ready. I was only able to break the cycle of poverty in my life because of well-funded quality public schools in our state (in the 1970’s and ‘80s). Fully funding means providing the necessary resources to get 100% of kids to on-time graduation based on our credit requirements, local requirements, 504 plans and IEP’s. “Full funding” is a constitutional right for students and a constitutional obligation of the legislature, far beyond the limited amount of funding that many think McCleary requires. However, this can’t be done at the expense of other vital services aimed at supporting our most vulnerable citizens. If our state simply made a commitment to return our funding levels to where they were thirty years ago (roughly 7% of gross state product, not the current paltry 5%), we would have roughly $3.5 billion more for public investments (including education) per year. That’s enough to go well beyond McCleary, and it would simply return our level of personal financial investment relative to private sector economic activity to where we were thirty years ago. The anti-tax movement in this state has had profound, negative consequences, by increasing the inequitable education of our children. Again, we don’t need to be a high tax state to achieve full funding; we simply need to get back to an average tax obligation necessary to provide the resources our education system needs.
|What’s your position on a parent’s ability to Opt-Out their child(ren) from testing?
|I completely believe that a parent should be allowed to opt-out their child from testing. Here is a link to the formal statement I made to the Seattle blog – https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/erin-jones-statement-on-opting-out/. Q7: What’s your position on the ESSA? ESSA is no guarantee that things will be better… ESSA appears to open the door for states to have greater control over assessment and accountability. However, there are still challenges to this new act – the fact that 95% of students are still “required” to test. I think we as a state need to explore every opportunity to eliminate federal control over what happens in Washington state. We need to work together as a state, with a variety of stakeholders to ensure the needs of our students and staff are priority.
|It’s a right to opt out, period. I ran the only bill in 2016 that explicitly states this right of parents and students. However, I also think when this right is exercised and mastery is not demonstrated via our state assessment, “we” (society) still need to expect students to meet standard in a given subject area by other means. My preferred route to demonstrate proficiency would be via passing actual courses, taught by actual teachers, aligned to our standards – not simply by retaking test after test after test. I am open to using standards-based courses, other assessments, advanced career and technical education courses, project-based learning, or just about anything else that empowers students to achieve standards and earn a diploma. Diverse students need diverse pathways!
|What’s your position on the ESSA?
|ESSA is no guarantee that things will be better… ESSA appears to open the door for states to have greater control over assessment and accountability. However, there are still challenges to this new act – the fact that 95% of students are still “required” to test. I think we as a state need to explore every opportunity to eliminate federal control over what happens in Washington state. We need to work together as a state, with a variety of stakeholders to ensure the needs of our students and staff are priority.
|While the new Every Student Succeeds Act is not ideal, it is a tremendous step in the right direction! Our state led the charge to reject a mandatory connection between students’ test scores and teacher evaluations. This is now the national policy! With the ESSA we still have student test requirements in grades 3-8 and once in high school, but we are getting more flexibility to meet all students where they are. The ESSA also gives us a great deal more say at the state level on how we choose to spend dozens of little federal funding pots, which has the potential to further empower local control. The next Superintendent of Public Instruction will have the enormous task of writing a state plan that maximizes this flexibility and reinstates the local control that was lost with NCLB. To do this well, OSPI must do a better job of getting systemic feedback from “the field” – students, parents, teachers, support staff, principals, superintendent, school board members, employers, and more. The changes inherent in the new ESSA need to become our State’s plan, not just the OSPI plan!
|What’s your position on the US Dept. of Education’s role in State/Local education?
|As someone who ran the School Improvement Office at OSPI for almost a year, I saw first-hand how much control the federal government had over setting expectations and mandating action. The federal government does not know how to manage schools, nor how to help schools improve practice, in my opinion. I believe the state must work with local communities to better support our schools that need additional assistance. I do not believe the state should be in the business of mandating curriculum, although I do believe there is benefit to stakeholders from across the state being involved in the creation of standards and providing tools to support schools in the implementation of those standards (that schools MAY use, should they so desire). I believe the most important role of the state is to elevate the great work that is happening across the state and share that work with others across the state, so we can learn from each other. The notion that one-size-fits-all is a fallacy. I believe it is important that any agency be held accountable to someone, so I believe there is a place for federal and state oversight, although I believe this oversight should not be cumbersome, nor intrusive. The oversight should also not require mountains of paperwork that takes time away from actual service to students and staff.
|In 2015-16, I was the leading voice in the State of Washington demanding that the federal government, especially the US DoE, have a more limited role in education policy, especially regarding mandated testing and teacher evaluations. I wrote an open-letter to then Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and President Obama urging them to embrace Washington State’s decision to delink student test scores from teacher evaluations. Diane Ravitch picked up my letter in her national blog and called me “A Hero of American Education”. That’s a bit much, but the bottom line is, we won that fight in the ESSA rewrite. We still have high standards and meaningful assessments, but students and teachers will no longer be inappropriately punished by false political solutions that inappropriately tie student and teacher evaluations to a single standardized test. Our state led that charge and I am proud to have been one of the loudest voices in that battle. Federal policy makers, just like our parents, communities, and businesses, have every right to expect high performance of our schools. However our national Department of Education has no constitutional right to dictate how we get there – that is absolutely a function of the 10th Amendment and states’ rights. Washington State has the strongest constitutional language about the importance of public education, declaring funding of our K-12 system as our state’s paramount duty. It is therefore essential that we have a strong leader as our next Superintendent of Public Instruction; one who has an established record of bringing policymakers together for the benefit of all children. Washington needs a leader who will also join the Council of Chief State School Officers association and continue to resist the urge of the federal government to control our schools. And we must especially elect an OSPI leader who will keep this system accountable to the public by resisting persistent efforts to privatize the system (with assistance from the federal government) via private charters, vouchers, and standardized tests. I would be honored to fulfill that role on behalf of the 1.1 million children, including my own son and daughter, currently in our public education system.
|What would be the top 3 actions to improve education in Washington State that you would take?
|1. Help schools and systems address Oppportunity Gaps. There are 5 things that must be addressed differently – DATA: what are we gathering (academic and non-academic), how ere sharing it out and what we do with the data; EDUCATORS: how are we recruiting, hiring, supporting teaches to ensure the most effective are in front of our most vulnerable; FAMILY/COMMUNITY: help sculls and systems develop authentic partnerships that can be leveraged to improve student learning; STUDENT SUPPORT: ensure school systems know how to meet students’ academic, physical, social-emotional and cultural needs; TRANSITIONS: help systems develop a seamless pipeline for students so they are able to move smoothly from one level to the next. 2. Develop an assessment system that provides timely, informative feedback to instructors to help them improve practice and help education leaders better support systems. Whatever assessment system is selected/developed should be done with educators who are on the ground in classrooms and school buildings and should not be a burden (time or tech-intensive) to schools. 3. Create a smooth pipeline for students and families to understand how to move through public education from early childhood to post-high school, understanding how to connect to a passion/talent, how to develop the “right” skills for that passion, and how to have the experiences necessary to make that passion into a career. This pipeline should have students graduating from high school with a plan for something beyond high school, whether that is 2/4-year college, tech school, apprenticeship, internship or military.
|1) Ensure that the Legislature complies with its constitutional obligation to fully fund local districts so that EVERY child has equitable access to the resources they need to be successful; 2) Restore courses as the primary path to standards-based graduation (not singular tests). We know that our educators are in the best position, through evaluating their student’s work in the classroom, to determine if a student has met the standards required to pass a course and be ready for post-secondary success. We must place this responsibility back in the hands of educators; and 3) Dramatically increase educator compensation while maintaining high standards for entrance into our teacher preparation programs. We need to value and prepare our future educators more like Finland, Poland, and South Korea! Teacher salaries MUST grow to a much higher percentage of median income in order to restore the dignity of the profession and to create substantial demand for the profession in the next generation of young learners. It breaks my heart to hear so many educators advise their own children not to teach in the current climate. We cannot become the greatest state in the union until we restore the dignity and pride of our most fundamental obligation – public education!