Monday, May 23, 2016

State Superintendent Questionnaire: David Spring

David Spring is one of four candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

About David (partial from his website):

I am a parent and teacher from North Bend, where I have lived for more than 20 years. My daughter, Sierra, is now a 10th Grader Honors student at Mount Si High School.

Education & Teaching Background
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Science Education from Washington State University and a Master’s Degree in Education and Child Development from the University of Washington. After graduating from WSU, I served as a VISTA volunteer developing an alternative educational program for at-risk youth in Rapid City, South Dakota.

I then spent over 20 years teaching, mainly at Bellevue College, where I taught courses in problem solving and conflict resolution. I am also a ski instructor, climbing instructor and climb leader. I have successfully and safely led over 100 teams of climbers to the summit of Mount Rainier. I therefore know how to lead teams confronted with difficult circumstances and keep them moving towards a goal in the face of adversity. I am also a former Rescue Leader with King County Search and Rescue.
Here's his website and you can e-mail him with questions at David(at)SpringForBetterSchools.org.

1. Why are you running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and what do you believe the role of the superintendent is to public education in Washington State?
I am running for Superintendent in order to fully and immediately fund our public schools. One of my opponents (Chris Reykdal) claims that the legislature has made "progress"; in funding our schools. But here are the facts. In the four years since January2012, when our Supreme Court ruled that the legislature has failed to meet their Constitutional Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools, the number of students in our state has increased 30,000 while the number of teachers has decreased by 1,000.

Every year class sizes for the past 20 years class sizes have gone up. Every year the number of students attending schools that do not meet either the health code or earthquake code standards has gotten worse. Legislators like Chris Reykdal have written draconian bills like House Bill 2214 to hold our kids and teachers accountable with horrible tests like the SBAC test -a test that is so difficult that almost no one in the legislature can pass. It is time to hold the legislature accountable for the harm they have inflicted on our kids and our schools. I will end the excuses, delays and gridlock in Olympia by going around the State legislature and asking the Supreme Court to repeal$10 billion per year in corporate tax breaks in order to double school funding, build hundreds of urgently needed schools, hire tens of thousands of teachers and increase the pay of teachers by 40% to increase teacher retention so that struggling students can get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life.

As for the role of Superintendent, many people (including the past three superintendents and my opponents in the current race) think the Superintendent is simply a rubber stamping figure head with no real power and no real duties. However, Article 3, Section 22 of our State Constitution states that the Superintendent"shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools." Furthermore, Article 9, Section 1 states: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders." Note that it is not merely the Paramount Duty of the State legislature to make ample provision for the education of all children, it is the Paramount Duty of every officer of the State, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to make sure that our schools are fully funded. As Superintendent, I will honor the State Constitution by going directly to the Supreme Court asking them to repeal illegal and unconstitutional tax breaks in order to immediately and fully fund our schools. I am the only candidate for public instruction with a plan to immediately and fully fund our schools.

2. What do you think is the number one concern with special education in this state? What is your view of the OEO's report on special education? What would you do, specifically, to improve special education in this state?

Put bluntly, the problem with Special Education in our state is that it is grossly underfunded - leaving local school districts to pick up the slack. There is no way to solve this problem or any other problem with our schools without first acknowledging the lack of funding and then taking steps to dramatically increase funding. As just one example, a friend of mine had a special needs child who was locked in a closet because his teacher could not deal with him and the rest of the huge class. My plan will double school funding and cut class sizes in half so that all students get the help they need.

3. What is your position on charters schools personally? What would be your view if you were elected superintendent and there was a charter law in place that did not support your role under Article Three, Section 22 of the state constitution?

I am the only candidate running for Superintendent who has consistently opposed charter schools. I was the only candidate who spoke against the charter school bill in both the House and the Senate in 2016. By contrast, candidate Erin Jones spoke in favor of charter schools at a public hearing and candidate Chris Reykdal, while speaking against the charter school policy bill - voted FOR the appropriations bill that funded charter schools - despite the fact that our Supreme Court had declared charter schools to be unconstitutional. As Superintendent, unlike the current superintendent and the other candidates running for superintendent, I will not allow one penny to go to illegal charter schools unless and until they are declared constitutional by our Supreme Court. I will also travel around the state explaining to parents not only why charter schools are unconstitutional but also explaining how charter schools harm our public schools.

4. How do you see the role of OSPI in enforcing education-related RCWs and WACs?

I have a much different view of RCW's and WACs than the other candidates. All of the other candidates think that they have to do whatever the legislature tells them to do regardless of the harm inflicted on our schools by unfunded mandates from the legislature. My view is that Article 2, Section 28 of our State Constitution prohibits the legislature from enacting any special laws regarding the management of our public schools. This provision is in our state constitution to prevent a corrupt legislature from destroying our public schools by burying them with unfunded mandates that cannot possibly be met. I therefore will review every law passed by the legislature regarding public schools to verify that it is fully funded by the legislature and does not harm our kids and schools. If the legislature refuses to fully fund any law, then as Superintendent,I will use the authority of Article 3, Section 22 to notify school districts that they do not need to comply with laws that the legislature refuses to fully fund. As just on example,the legislature has required the SBAC test to be a graduation requirement without provide schools with the funds needed to prepare students for this test. I will therefore allow school districts to end the SBAC test during my first week in office.

5. What will you do to protect the privacy of all students in Washington State? How will you keep their personal information safe (i.e. not accidentally distributed to the wrong people) and, how will you protect them from having personal data collected and sold/used/shared as they go thru their K-12 years?

As a website security consultant, I am appalled at the lack of security on the OSPI website. I will take immediate steps to better protect student privacy. However, I am also appalled at the amount of data being collected on students that has nothing to do with earning or helping students. The best way to protect student privacy is to not collect data on students in the first place. I will insist that all data collection have a proven purpose and end collection on any data that is not essential. I will also inform parents on all data being collected on their child and give them the option of Opting their student out completely.

6. How can you, as superintendent, assist parents who are frustrated with the education their children are receiving?

I will meet directly with parents to hear their concerns and address their problems. However, I think parents need to understand that there are no magic bullet solutions when we have some of the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.

Lack of funding has led to multiple problems that can only be solved by increasing funding - not by robbing Peter to pay Paul. To end this disaster, I want to provide parents with accurate information about what their legislators are doing and are not doing to fund our schools. Therefore in addition to providing parents with a "school report card." I will also post on the OSPI website a "legislator report card" that explains exactly what incumbents are doing to fund our schools and what challengers propose to do to fund our schools. This will allow parents to make a more informed decision about who will really fund our schools.

7. How can educators and education administrators support struggling students without ignoring the needs of students working beyond standard?

There is only one scientifically proven way to help struggling students without ignoring other students - that way is to lower class sizes down to 16 students per class. Since the average class size in Washington state is 32 students, we MUST double school funding and cut class sizes in half. That is exactly what I will do if I am elected Superintendent.

8. Name three things that are not currently being done that you believe will help close the opportunity gap for students of color.


1. Double school funding to cut class sizes in half.

In the 1980's, a study was done in Tennessee, called the STAR study in which 12,000 students were randomly assigned with 6000 students going to normal classes of 25 kids and 6000 students going to small classes of 16 kids for a period of 4 years(Kindergarten through 4th grade). 13 years later, researchers found that average students in the normal classes had a graduation rate of 80% and low income students in normal classes had a graduation rate of 70% - for an Opportunity Gap of 10%.

However, average students in small classes had their graduation rate increase from80% to 90% and low income students in small classes had their graduation rate increase from 70% to 90%. In other words, reducing classes to 16 students per class completely eliminated the Opportunity Gap. I am the only candidate with a plan to double school funding and lower class sizes.

2. Increase Teacher Retention by Dramatically Increasing Teacher Pay and lowering class sizes

Our teachers are currently the 4th lowest paid teachers in the country. Because we have the highest class sizes in the nation, our teachers are also the most over-worked in the nation. As a consequence, teachers are leaving the profession in droves leading to a huge turnover, a teacher shortage and classes led by tens of thousands of inexperienced teachers who do not have the experience to identify, help and inspire struggling low income and minority students. I am the only candidate with a plan to raise teacher pay by 40% and restore the buying power teachers had in the 1990s.

3. End Unfair Toxic High Stakes Testing

Minority and low income students are severely harmed by toxic high failure rate tests that unfairly label minority and low income students as failures when in fact the student is achieving at grade level and should be commended and complemented - not punished and labeled. Students believe what they are told by adults. No Third grader should ever be exposed to a toxic test that is not age appropriate and asks questions that most adults can not answer.

Currently, two students per week commit suicide here in Washington state. According to the Healthy Youth Survey, the percentage of students who think about committing suicide has doubled from 10% to 20% in just the past four years. Our students and teachers have been placed in an impossible and disgraceful situation by the combination of huge class sizes and toxic tests dictated by our our of control State legislature, out of control corporate tax breaks and allowed by our rubber stamping Superintendent of Public Instruction. I am the only candidate who has pledged that I will end mandatory toxic testing during my first week in office and allow school districts to adopt local assessment options as permitted by the new ESSA federal law. All of my opponents will simply continue the rubber stamping disaster of the incumbent Superintendent.

9. How does “EduTech” – the increasing use of technology and learning-based instruction – fit into your view about the future of education?
Technology is one of the magic bullet solutions that has led to a disaster for students -especially for low income and minority students. In my book, Weapons of Mass Deception that can be read online at our website Weapons Of Mass Deception.org, I wrote an entire chapter documenting how online programs like K12INC have destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of students here in Washington state. Ironically, school districts have a strong incentive to push struggling students into these terrible online&"edutech" programs as they are considered Alternative Learning Experiences (ALEs) which use a loophole in state law to artificially inflate the graduation rate in the school district by pretending these struggling students are no longer in the school districts. As Superintendent, I will close this loophole and insist that parents be told the truth about the actual graduation rate of such educational scams.

10. What would be the first thing you would seek to change/establish if you become State Superintendent of Public Instruction?
All of the candidates for Superintendent claim that they will advocate for fully funding our public schools. But the plan of every other candidate is to simply keep begging the legislature to fund our schools. After 8 long years of begging the legislature to fund our schools, I am certain that the legislature is never going to fund our schools. I therefore have a completely different plan. I will end the delays, excuses and gridlock in the legislature by going directly to the Supreme Court asking them to declare billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations to be unconstitutional. I will file this motion during my first week in office and we could have full school funding in as little as 6 months. I also have 11 other high priority objectives such as ending child homelessness and triple-funding for higher education and vocational training programs so that every student in our state can have 4 full years of free higher education and graduate from college debt-free.

2 comments:

David Spring said...

Melissa, Thank you for posting my questionnaire. However, I want to clarify that while I have spent the past 8 years in Olympia trying to restore school funding during which time I submitted several bills to repeal tax breaks and add billions of dollars for school funding, and while I have testified at numerous hearings in the House and Senate, and even served on State committees, I never was an actual member of the legislature. Instead, my bills were submitted and sponsored by several other members of the House and Senate. Sadly, I was the only person to draft a bill to fully fund our public schools in the past 4 years since the McCleary decision (Senate Bill 6093 sponsored by Senators Chase and McAuliffe). The lack of interest in the legislature to fully fund our schools is the main reason I am running for Superintendent with a plan to go around the legislature and directly to the Supreme Court. Regards, David Spring

Melissa Westbrook said...

David, that error was pointed out to me and I corrected it. Thank you for lettting us know.