Experience (Max 500 characters)
Business owner, school teacher, OSPI Student Data Task Force and Opportunity Gap Committee, GMF global education forum, Center for Latino Leadership Director. MS, Curriculum & Instruction, Western Governors University; BBA, Pacific Lutheran University; Running Start grad, attended a dozen public schools nationwide. Tacoma Arts Live Board Member, Catholic Daughters Association, Civil Air Patrol, JROTC, Youth Soccer Coach, School Auction Chair, Coffee Oasis youth shelter core team member.
Town where you live
I grew up in a military household and attended public schools across our country. The value of an education was instilled in me early on. I earned my AA at the age of 17 and completed my Bachelors in Business Administration by 20. As an experienced educator with a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, I know what works in our classrooms.
I have 2 kids in public school, my family lives in our current system; we understand the challenges. I’ve worked with OSPI, the State Senate, and the WA State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, focusing on education policy. I founded and currently direct the Center for Latino Leadership, an education-based, nonprofit. A German Marshall Scholar, I was the first Washingtonian selected to participate in a global education forum to share my expertise and learn from international partners about the future of education. I’m the only candidate with the knowledge, legislative experience, and political courage to make the necessary changes in our schools.
The COVID-19 crisis makes it even clearer that the legislature and school leaders must step up and support parental choice in education. By the state’s own admission, we will not be able to accommodate all students back to their public school. Parents need flexibility and support to educate their students in a way that makes sense for them. Charter schools are an important option in public education. Families should be empowered to decide what school and school model is right for their child, whether that's charter schools, homeschooling, online, private, or religious school. Options provide better student outcomes. The more options we have, the more equity we provide.
My first priority will be to answer the call of parents, teachers and communities by bringing resolution to the recently passed sexual education policy. Referendum 90 will determine if the law is repealed. If not, I will immediately work to provide additional curriculum options so that school districts across the state may comfortably comply with the new law. Local schools know what’s best for their communities.
In order to address and respond to school closures, we must assess student learning so teachers can do their jobs effectively. In the fall, students will have returned after nearly 6 months away. We can use technology to regularly monitor student progress and support continued learning inside and outside of the classroom.
We should also honor school choice by providing resources directly to parents such as school vouchers so that every student has access to education. We must uphold our obligation to provide an education to all of Washington’s students.
I am a bridge-builder and consensus-driver. I’ve had success supporting students by listening to and valuing the contributions of others. My opponent has centralized power and taken away key decisions from local districts, while politicising this non-partisan office. A prime example of this is the controversial sexual education law. We must protect our kids from inappropriate content in the approved curricula. As superintendent, I will work with local leaders to provide a variety of curriculum options for local school boards to choose from, rather than forcing adoption of a special-interest driven agenda.
This office, though limited in power and scope, is supposed to be a thought leader and convener, who can help districts meet shared goals for our students. We cannot let adult problems get in the way of student learning. Too many have missed out on crucial educational opportunities because the current leadership was unprepared. I will be an unapologetic advocate for students and families that is willing to think outside of the box. I have a record of more than just lip-service to help communities in need and will continue to be a strong partner in developing resilient, independent and thriving schools.
I believe in local control. We need to listen to and respect parents and local leaders. Because they know what’s best for their students. Similar to my work running a statewide non-profit focused on civic engagement and leadership development, I will work closely with school districts to build consensus on shared goals. I want strong feedback and ideas on how we can fix existing problems. Not all solutions come from Olympia.
Experience (Max 500 characters)
Certificated classroom teacher, community and technical college executive, State Legislator, and Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Town where you live
Tumwater, WA now. I was born and raised in Snohomish, WA
As a born and raised Washingtonian, I have experienced public education as a K-12 student, college student, certificated teacher, school board member, public community and technical college executive, legislature, and education foundation trustee. I have spent my life improving educational outcomes for students and supporting our educators to do the amazing work they do. I also grew up in tremendous poverty so I know the challenges that families face as they balance work, raising a family, education, and basic survival needs.
I believe the partnership between teachers, parents, and students is the most powerful learning triangle. I trust teachers and I trust public education! Our democracy and our economy is grounded in the fundamental belief that each and every child has access to high quality learning as a springboard to powerful opportunities after high school. In my work, I have honored all pathways - college, apprenticeships, technical programs, military service, and work!
Charter schools are law in the State of Washington, however they don't however have access to general state funds because those are reserved for our constitutionally protected public schools. I believe the most effective school system is locally-based and locally represented by elected school boards and guided by state learning standards. As Superintendent, I have a legal responsibility to apportion non-general fund state revenues to the Charter sector, but they are governed by a separate charter commission and each charter school has a non-elected private board that governs their operations.
There is no evidence from national research that charter schools (in aggregate) outperform public schools. There are good charters just as there are good traditional public schools, but the overall differences are negligible. So we are trading offer similar performance for non-elected boards who I believe are less accountable to local communities.
First, we have to secure the incredible financial gains we have made in our schools. Since being elected, we have added over $4 billion annually to our public schools. That's more than $3,500 in additional funds per student. This has improved supports for students with disabilities, grown our career and technical education programs, increased levy equalization for property poor communities, enhanced transportation funding, and substantially improved the salaries and benefits of our educators.
Second, return our children safely, and maintain momentum in student achievement. We are now a top 15 state in math and English/Language Arts using the only nationally normed assessment - the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Third, we have to grow our investments in student supports - guidance counseling, mental health supports, nursing, and more. The difference between success and failure for many students is not academic, it's getting their basic needs met.
As a former legislator, I have the relationships and understanding of the how the Legislature works and the kind of performance data they expect in order for them to continue K-12 public education investments. COVID-19 has impacted education in EVERY state; we have to recover from this by building flexible learning systems, returning as many students as we can safely on a daily basis, and targeting our resources to those students who need the most support.
I have taken risks as Superintendent to offer bold ideas for progressive revenue, including a bill my office drafted to tax capital gains. I have passed nearly thirty pieces of agency-request legislation in four years because I have the relationships that create effective partnerships. Nearly all of these pieces of legislation were bipartisan!
In short, my top three priorities all point to one vital outcome - closing achievement gaps and graduating all of our students ready for post-secondary success.
OSPI has a constitutional duty to execute the policies and budgets passed by the Legislature. We do that by giving technical support and implementation support to local school districts. From child nutrition, to learning standards, to teacher certification, to budget apportionment, our staff serves districts.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have supported districts with guidance related to continuous learning when we were shut down and most recently we issued reopening guidance. The health mandates in the guidance are controlled by DOH and LNI, but it is our job to give districts deployment models that supports learning in this moment.
We also have a responsibility to encourage and facilitate a process to further identify barriers to learning experienced by students of color. We have rewritten our discipline rules, invested in property-poor communities, and expanded access to advanced course taking. We will review every major policy through an equity lens.
At OSPI we have regular bulletins that inform districts about changing policies and expectations. More importantly, I host dozens of calls each week from regions and groups all over the state. I produce a video about every two to three weeks, and our team is designed to receive inquiries from districts so we can offer support.
I wrote a six-year vision document two years ago that has been our guidepost for transformation. We have achieved or begun nearly all of the major steps in that document. We delinked standardized tests from graduation, added massive amounts of funding, expanded early learning, and so much more. The next frontier is expanding students supports and completely redesigning the high school experience for thousands of students. Along the way, I survey the public on their budget priorities, because budgets are moral documents, and I want our vision for student success to match the public expectations for their taxes.