Ask a Candidate

Readers, I would like to put together a questionnaire for the five candidates for state superintendent of public instruction.

Naturally, I value your input.  So give me your top three questions for them.

FYI, the candidates are:

- Robin Fleming, Administrator for health programs, OSPI
- Erin Jones, Tacoma Public Schools administrator for AVID
- Gil Mendoza, Deputy superintendent for K-12 programs, OSPI
- Chris Reykdal, state representative in Washington legislature
- Larry Seaquist, former state representative

I've talked with several of the candidates casually and, from looking at resumes of others, it appears we have a good group and it should be a lively campaign. 


Unknown said…
I would like to know 1) what do you think is the number one concern with special education in this state? 2) what is your view of the OEO's report on special education, and 3) what would you do, specifically, to improve special education in this state.
Greg said…
1. What are your primary metrics for success in our schools?
2. What will you do to improve those metrics?
3. What will you do if your answer to above fails to improve those metrics after two years?
Another Name said…
1. Would you support funding existing charter schools via ALE?

2. What are your thoughts and analysis related to funding charter schools via ALE?

3. Why haven't you posted your positions regarding charter schools on your web page?

4. Who will fund your campaign and how much funding do you expect to raise?

Charlie Mas said…
1) How do you see the role of OSPI in enforcing education related RCW and WAC?
2) What is your record for enforcing policies, regulations, or laws?
Feeling Upset said…
"1) How do you see the role of OSPI in enforcing education related RCW and WAC?
2) What is your record for enforcing policies, regulations, or laws?"


I've come to believe that it is only those with funds to challenge the law that will make a difference. One does not need to look beyond Randy Dorn's shenanigans and the manner in which altered ALE rules to fund charter schools that are not recognized by the law.

In the case of SPI laundering dollars to charter schools- via Mary Walker School District- we need an entity above Dorn that is willing to investigate whether Dorn worked within his capacity. I imagine that person would be Ferguson, but he wants to run for Governor and I highly doubt he will want to anger the deep pockets.

As well, we're watching some in the legislature try and push a likely unconstitutional charter school bill through Olympia. If SB 6194 will take another lawsuit to assure compliance with the law.

Feeling Upset said…
...That said, I also need to recognize the individuals that work to assure rules/laws are followed.
Anonymous said…
Have you ever been asked to leave a position, been fired, had a contract non-renewed, or resigned before or in lieu of termination? Would love to see if Gil Mendoza would be truthful in his answer.

Anonymous said…
"SUMNER: Superintendent was rightly ousted
Letter by Ron Weigelt, Bonney Lake on Nov. 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm with 5 Comments »
Re: “Ex-official files late with PDC” (TNT, 11-5).

The state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) is responsible for keeping elections above board. The rules that must be followed include: No person or organization can donate more than $800 to any candidate; all contributions must be recorded with the PDC showing amounts and contributors; and all mailings must clearly identify who paid for the mailing.

Just before the Nov. 8 election, a mailing was sent out from an anonymous group. The News Tribune article explained that ousted Sumner school superintendent Gil Mendoza spent nearly $8,000 (10 times the allowed limit) on a mailing for his slate of candidates. Rather than reveal himself as the sole contributor, he created a fictitious organization he called Citizens Advocating a Responsible Education System (CARES).

When Mendoza was terminated in June 2011, he received a separation package worth nearly $178,000. Spending $8,000 to influence the school board race was well within his means. However, it was clearly wrong. Mendoza broke the law and set a very bad example for the students of Sumner School District. In doing so, he validated the school board’s earlier decision to oust him.

While I am absolutely certain that those elected are going to work hard and do a wonderful job, Mendoza should have either stayed out of the campaign process or followed the rules like everyone else."

SWWS, I am unclear as to what this is that you posted. Is a public disclosure document? An e-mail?
Jan said…
SWWS: "Have you ever been asked to leave a position, been fired, had a contract non-renewed, or resigned before or in lieu of termination?"

Good and valid questions, all -- but you have to remember that in this era of "ed reform," sometimes it is our best and most principled teachers, administrators, and educational leaders who are asked to leave, fired, or been subject to contract non-renewal or forced resignation.

Again -- I don't think it is a bad question. It is a very good one. But you have to go beyond the question to the reasons, when you live in a time where bad policy makers are trying to force out the best and most principled educators. (I make no inference here regarding Mendoza -- as I do not understand his history and have no opinion on him. I am just speaking to that question in general).
Anonymous said…
What will you do to protect the privacy of all students in Washington state? How will you keep their personal information safe (ie 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 about their education?
Charlie Mas said…
Maybe the better question about rules and enforcement would be to ask them their criteria for breaking the law themselves and for allowing others to break the laws they are supposed to enforce.
stuart jenner said…
1. What type of math curricula do you think works best and why?
2. How can you assist parents who are frustrated with the education their children are receiving?
3. School buildings are very expensive. Class size reduction means a lot of schools do not have enough classrooms. Is there a state responsibility to help, or should building more space be funded as it is currently, with local taxpayers paying nearly all the costs?
Anonymous said…
Stuart Jenner wrote "Class size reduction means a lot of schools do not have enough classrooms."

Does anyone know of any studies that compare double teacher classrooms to smaller class sizes? For example, classes of 40 students and two teachers compared to two classes of 20 students with one teacher.

Lynn said…

I don't know of any studies on that question. I can tell you I think the increased distraction would outweigh any benefits. Something like 25% of the children in my second grader's class are already wearing noise-cancelling ear protection for parts of the day. I think he'd refuse to go to school if placed in a room with 40 kids.
Another Question said…
Consider asking if a candidate ever contributed to a Republican campaign?
Another Question said…

Consider asking if any candidate has been involved with Race To The Top funding. Did they contribute to the loss of student privacy?

Anonymous said…
That's a good point Lynn. I was thinking more of fourth grade and up where there are already 30+ kids in a class, and the kids are more "domesticated".

Anonymous said…
How long will it take you to dismantle the OSPI?

Fox Hen
Z said…
1) Are you in favor of working to enacting state law that truly protects student data? Unlike FERPA, which is practically worthless now. Truly protecting student data means the names and other identifiers are stripped before data leaves the district. If necessary, they can be assigned "proxy IDs" per project, which allow for longitudinal continuity.

2) How can educators and education administrators support struggling students without ignoring the needs of students working beyond standard? What kinds of systemic solutions exist to address this problem?

3) How does "EduTech" fit into your view of the future of education? (It may not be obvious, but this fits in very closely with #1)
Jan said…
Wow, Z -- great questions!
Z said…
Thanks Jan, I feel they are very important issues. If I were given the opportunity for more than 3 questions, I think something SpEd-related and something Charter-related would be in order, but I'd rather leave those to the domain experts.

I also really liked Greg's question above, which is: What are your primary metrics for success in our schools? It leaves room for a very wide range of answers, but IF the candidates were honest, their answers could be very telling.
Rick Burke said…
Two questions I'd like to hear a public position about:

1) With the recent changes under ESSA, do you support Washington maintaining standards fidelity to Common Core or do would you advocate for state-level adjustments to our standards?

2) What is your position on Washington's ongoing use of the SBAC assessment, specifically addressing the issues of family opt-out rights, use of alternate normed assessments in high school, and state-level consideration for alternate assessments or evidence of student learning?
Allen jeley said…
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