Chris Reykdal for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

I'm endorsing Chris Reykdal for state superintendent.  Before I get to why, I want to lay out what the role of the state superintendent is.  Reydal's website.

KUOW had this piece about the job recently and called it "ceremonial."  I think that might be more the Lt. Governor role but certainly not the state superintendent.  Many people think it is to support teachers but the role is an executive/administrative role that supports teaching and learning (which would include teachers but that is not the main focus.)

Here's what former state rep Marcie Maxwell had to say by way of explanation:
In my years as a School Board Director, Legislator and Governor’s Education Policy Advisor, I’ve worked closely with OSPI Superintendents, and understand the roles and responsibilities of this statewide official. The role of OSPI Superintendent is deep in politics, policies and budgets. OSPI is a statewide agency of 400+ employees with program oversight and reporting for billions in state and federal education funds.
It is important to have someone who cares about schools and students but it's more important to consider that the state superintendent sits on several key committees including the timber committee (because some school funding comes from timber sales.)  You need someone who knows this landscape and Reykdal does.

Maxwell goes on to state that Reykdal has been a teacher (three years early in his professional career), a fiscal director for higher ed systems but has also been an elected official - both a school board director and a state representative.  That on-the-ground knowledge of both how schools work and the people who do the funding is a significant item in the list of what Reykdal would bring to the office.

Besides his teaching certificate, he also has a Master's degree in Public Administration (government finance, budgeting and performance management.)

In the Legislature, he has served as the vice-chair of the House Education Committee.  He's worked in the Washington Senate before being elected, as a fiscal analyst for transportation.

In short, he knows his stuff and is ready to step into the executive role of state superintendent.

But I believe the state superintendent should also be able to talk to teachers and kids because the role also has some cheerleading to it; mainly, promoting belief in our public schools. 

Reykdal grew up the youngest of eight kids in a poor family.   As he puts it:
I was able to succeed and go on to college largely due to elected leaders who made tough choices on issues that weren’t politically popular – government assistance, food stamps, and state funded college grants. These programs, along with an outstanding public education system, provided me incredible opportunities.
Reykdal certainly could be a beacon to students in families that struggle.  And, because he lived it himself AND worked as Deputy Executive Director for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, he could help students find the road forward.  That's inspirational.

He is endorsed by current superintendent Randy Dorn as well as former superintendent Terry Bergeson, and the deputy superintendent, Gil Mendoza and two assistant superintendents, as well the the third place finisher in the primary (who also works for OSPI), Robin Fleming.  Those are people who know the job and believe Reykdal can do it best.

And talk about bringing different sides of the table together (and being able to work with them), his elected legislative endorsement list has everyone from ed reformers Matt Manweller (something of a rotweiller for ed reform) and Senator Andy Billig to moderates and progressives like Senator Christine Rolfes, Rep Lillian Ortiz-Self, Senator Marko Liias, Rep Sharon Tomiko-Santos, and Rep Gerry Pollet.

Chris is a calm, knowledgeable person.  I was a little surprised in a recent conversation I had with him, how many times I would bring up an issue that he already had a good background to reference.   He also repeatedly explained about how in the legislature the number of times he was able to reach across the aisle to get work done.  That's tremendously important in the months ahead as the McCleary funding issue comes to a head.

Most important to me, is that I do not have doubts about what Chris says and who he is.  He is clear on both his foci for the office and who he is.

I will repeat what I have said previously about Erin Jones, his opponent.  She is bright and capable and charismatic.

But, as Marcie Maxwell points out, there are these concerns:
-Readiness for OSPI political leadership with legislators, the Governor's office, federal agencies, school districts, unions, parent organizations and the media?
-Minimal budget and fiscal accountability experience?
-Her testimony to support opening a charter school, then denial of same?
-Statement in a meeting I attended earlier this year that revenues for McCleary would not be her role at OSPI?
-Challenges in answering LGBTQ and media questions?
-Recent photo taken with Freedom Foundation's education lead? FF is a known far right anti-public schools, anti-LGBTQ, anti-climate science, anti-women's health, anti-union organization.
-Attending the WA Republicans Roanoke Conference then explaining to Dems that she didn't know what Roanoke was until she arrived there? Fine that she attended but she didn't Google to find out what she was attending...
I had not endorsed in the primary because frankly, I was torn between the two candidates.  Both have good points.  But my late husband watched me endorse/support candidates only to see those candidates not be all that was advertised.  He always told me to listen to my gut, not my head or my heart.  Meaning, if something seems off, listen to that signal.

There is just too much explaining going on in Jones' campaign for me (as well as excuse-making on the part of her supporters who repeatedly say she gets cornered by media. She's running for public office, so naturally she's going to get asked questions. It feels a bit like a cult of personality and not advocacy for her abilities.) 

With Reykdal's strong credentials plus that knawing feeling I get from Jones' campaign, it was not a difficult choice for me.  

Chris Reykdal for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.


Anonymous said…
I will be voting against a pro union supporter and voting for Jones. If this guy is supported by the old guard who basically did nothing then I can't vote for him.

Safety nets are becoming hammocks!

Read Chris's following statement very carefully," I have nothing but respect for the parents who are seeking better opportunities for their children, but schools aren’t just owned by parents. They are also owned by the 4 million taxpayers and voters who don’t have children in schools. We, the people, own our schools. As soon as we believe that every “customer” of government can take their share of the tax contribution (and more) and use it in the market place, we will destroy what it means to be public."

He is very confused about how most social programs work and how important portability is in driving down cost and insuring fairness and non-discrimination.

Chris, schools are owned by the children not parents. I don't own the fire station or the firetrucks, but I contribute in the form of property taxes, the same as for schools. The difference is 90% of the population will never use the services of the fire dept, but 80% of the population at some point will send their children off to a building run by people they don't know to be taught many things that are questionable, so parents have a little more skin in the game than you average tax payer, ya think?

Chris forgets the majority of voters want some type of charter school. Chris, you seem programed and out of touch with the current state academics and unfortunately like WEA think money is the only solution.

Same old
Anonymous said…
The majority of voters want some type of charter school???? How big was that "majority"? Look at the map of how that vote went down. The wealthiest neighborhoods, who send their kids to private schools, voted to send other peoples' kids to charters. The high FRL neighborhoods did NOT vote for charter schools.

As for money not being the only option, how do we know until we've complied with McCleary and actually fully funded the public schools before further bleeding them to support charters.

open ears
Anonymous said…
@same old

"how important portability is in driving down cost and insuring fairness and non-discrimination."

I disagree with that assertion. What makes it less expensive? Seems like self selection usually leads to less fairness and more segregation by income, ability, and all other factors.

Anonymous said…
Learning that an anti-union, pro-charter commenter aims to defeat Chris only confirms and reinforces my support for him.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
Thank you for this post Melissa. All the good reasons to vote for Chris for this election.
dorainseattle said…
Erin has called the OSPI Superintendent a figurehead who simply represents OSPI at functions and meetings. She mentions this in an interview I had with her this summer.

One thing I want to add to Melissa's excellent list of roles and responsibilities of the OSPI Supe is they will take the lead on how WA state provides leadership on responding to the requirements of the ESSA law that was put into effect in December of 2015.

This new federal ed act provides greater latitude to the states to come up with their own guidelines per the ESSA requirements.

This is a huge task and of the utmost importance in terms of how our students and teachers will be affected.

I suggest that people watch this process closely because it will have huge ramifications for our students and teachers.

You can check out the OSPI website for some of the information here, and for a more thorough evaluation of ESSA, check out Mecedes Schneider's posts on the subject. Just Google her name and ESSA. She has studied the 1,000 plus pages of the law's text.

You can read a brief evaluation of her concerns here,

This is a serious task and you must think carefully about who can shoulder this task the best.

Dora Taylor

Jan said…
"how important portability is in driving down cost and insuring fairness and non-discrimination"

If you mean portability as between one truly public (as opposed to private charter fake-public) school and another, I am with you. But I reject the idea that parents and children are nothing more than "consumers" of education -- to be shilled to by hucksters and profiteers shouting sales slogans while trying, on the side, to make as much profit as they can by spending the fewest possible dollars on actually educating the kids.

Public schools are part of every citizen's civic life -- like fire stations and National Parks, and the interstate highway system. We don't all use them -- but we all pay for them. It is what we do as citizens to build the communities we want to live in. It is more like a "civic family" model -- and less like a "buyer -- seller" model). Citizens without kids still have a stake in the game, as the function of schools is to educate the citizens of the next generation -- those who will vote, fight the next generation's wars, and run society when today's grown ups will be grandparents, or gone.

If the 2008 Great Recession did not teach me fully to stop worshiping at the shrine of "private enterprise" -- the destruction of the entire public school systems of cities like Detroit and New Orleans did. Private enterprise does some things well, and others extremely poorly. Private schools have never wanted to, or agreed to, take "all kids" -- but that was ok, because taxpayers weren't footing the bill. Charters also do not want to take, or educate, all kids -- nor do they want to provide any due process, or public accountability for what they do or don't do. But they DO take tax dollars. I am implacably NOT ok with paying taxes to support what I perceive as widespread mismanagement, dishonesty, profiteering, and corruption of charter schools in states like Michigan and Ohio.

Watching said…
Former SPI Terry Bergeson and Randy Dorn have endorsed Reykdal:

"I am proud to endorse Chris Reykdal for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the position I previously held for 12 years. First and foremost, Chris is a strong advocate for our wonderful and diverse Washington students. That is job one for our State Superintendent of schools. He is also the only candidate with the comprehensive experience and background to improve student achievement, support the educators and staff in our 295 school districts, and lead a complex agency of more than 400 employees. Chris’ education finance background is ideally suited to help the state achieve the McCleary funding solution. He has the executive management experience, formal education, teaching background, legislative experience, and critical relationships in Olympia to turn No Child Left Behind’s punitive approach into powerful and relevant teaching and learning supported by meaningful accountability. The job is complex and the management challenges are immense; but Chris has the transformational leadership style to turn those challenges into opportunities for our children’s future. I urge you to support Chris in his campaign to be our next State Superintendent of Public Instruction." Terry Bergeson - Former Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Anonymous said…
Interesting how commenter/troll #1 says they're voting "against a pro-union supporter and voting for Jones." The way that it is worded almost makes Jones sound like she is anti-union.

Just an observation...

Anonymous said…
So, Jan, I'm assuming that you don't mind paying taxes to support widespread mismanagement, dishonesty, profiteering, and corruption in public schools. The fact is that it's much more pervasive in public schools than charter schools.

Also too, I'd love to not pay taxes for things I don't like --- I've got a laundry list of items paid for out of my taxes that I'd like to opt out of. Where can I sign up for that?

Anonymous said…
Haha, Horace:

The only fact in that statement is that it's your opinion.

-- Ivan Weiss
Watching said…
It is difficult to understand where Jones stands on testing. See minute 3:55:

Jones states she does not support charter schools, but SSS blog reports:

"I queried The Stranger to ask if they felt they have misunderstood/misinterpreted what Jones said. Here's what they say:
I think Erin’s comments to you jibe with what she said in the interview. I don’t think we misinterpreted anything, and Erin hasn’t said we did.
They went on to say this:
When I followed up with you on charter schools, you acted quizzical about where anyone could have gotten the idea that you like them. But you briefly praised the region’s charter schools during our meeting, calling them “FABULOUS," then backtracked when another candidate objected: “Well, they would say they are fabulous.” You can’t act like no one has a reason to doubt your position on the issue."

Reykdal has a record:

Watching said…
The Seattle Times and Jones on teacher compensation:

"Both Jones and Reykdal have close connections to the state teacher’s union, but Jones has an independent voice that could help lawmakers work toward a compromise on reforming the state’s teacher compensation system."

What does this mean?

The Jones campaign leaves me with many unanswered questions.

Anonymous said…
Haha, Ivan. You've got to be joking. How many examples do we have here in SPS alone of mismanagement, dishonesty, profiteering, and corruption? How soon we forget the names Manhas, Goodloe-Johnson, Potter, et al. Are you suggesting these events of fraud and corruption and financial mismanagement are limited to SPS? These occurrences are prevalent across ALL large, urban school districts and many other non-urban school districts. These are complex bureaucracies dealing with millions of dollars. Public schools are ripe for fraud and corruption and mismanagement.

Spend an afternoon reading newspaper accounts of Miami-Dade, Detroit, Philadelphia, etc. All the evidence is there.

Po3 said…
What is Reykdal's position on charter schools? His website doesn't say anything.

Jone's website has a section on Charter Schools where she states, "As State Superintendent, I will enforce the law, because I am committed to serving all students."

My question to her is: if they are found (again) to be unconstitutional will she enforce closing them down? Seems like a risky statement to me.

Anonymous said…
Reykdal's position on charter schools?

His position is whatever WEA tells him it is.

Charlie Mas said…
Seriously, Horace, you don't want this fight. There are countless cases of horrendous financial abuses by charter schools. Yes, of course there is the occasional case of financial scandal in public schools, but it isn't anywhere near as frequent or drastic as it is in charter schools.

Seattle Public Schools is subject to an annual audit by the State Auditor. Who audits charter schools? Nobody. Seattle Public Schools' budget is a public document. The budgets for charter schools are private. The terrible scandal in Seattle's public schools was for an amount less than .25% of budget. It didn't close any schools or even have much of an impact on the classrooms and students. Charter schools sometimes get taken whole and close, putting all of the students out in the street.

Seriously, Horace, if you had the data you would know that this is not the point you want to debate as a rationale for charter schools.
Watching said…
Similar to Gerry Pollet, Chris Reykdal has a solid history of opposing charter schools.

Re: SB 6194- Reykdal attempted to remove references referring to charter schools as
public schools:

SB 6194 and Roll Call:
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Charlie, your reply reads like an open invitation to me posting an article/report each day regarding fraud, corruption, financial mismanagement in a public school/district. You can then match that with the same from a charter school. Let's see who exhausts examples first.

Reykdal is against charters and always have been.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson did nothing illegal; she may have not watched over people as she should (and she took responsibility for that ) but she did nothing wrong.

Horace, I'll take that challenge because I see the plethora of fraud and mismanagment from charters every single day. As well, Charlie is right; districts get in much more trouble than charters because they have very direct public oversight.
Charlie Mas said…
Here's your first one, Horace: Jacksonville
A management company operating two charter schools in Jacksonville pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of grand theft, money laundering, fraud and aggravated white collar crime.

The indictments, handed down earlier this month in Escambia County, charge four companies, including Newpoint Education Partners based in Clearwater and three vendor companies working with Newpoint.

The indictments allege the vendor companies — School Warehouse Inc., Red Ignition LLC and Epiphany Management Group — have ties to Newpoint and yet were fraudulently billing a Newpoint-managed school in Pensacola called 21st Century Academy. The alleged fraud amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which ostensibly paid for supplies, equipment and services from 2011 to 2015, the indictment says.

The indictment also says Newpoint and its vendors laundered the proceeds through multiple bank accounts “to conceal criminal activity.”

Newpoint still manages San Jose Academy, a middle school, and San Jose Preparatory High School in Jacksonville. Both charter schools operate in one building totaling 376 students in December. It is unclear if the schools played any role in the activities alleged in the indictment.

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