Sex ed bill inspired activist Maia Espinoza to run for superintendent

Mar 9, 2020, 2:55 PM
Espinoza, superintendent...
Maia Espinoza is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction. (Maia Espinoza)
(Maia Espinoza)

The comprehensive sex ed bill that just passed the Washington State Legislature has angered many parents who say that its curriculum is not age-appropriate — and it has inspired one of them to jump into the 2020 race for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Maia Espinoza, who directs the Center for Latino Leadership and in 2018 unsuccessfully ran for the Washington House of Representatives, said she was disturbed to see what her third-grader and middle-schooler could be learning in school thanks to the bill.

While advocates of comprehensive sex ed say it would keep lessons age-appropriate, covering consent and inappropriate touching in younger grades and only getting into sexual topics at puberty, parents who have seen the actual curriculum samples disagree. Lesson plans for second-graders include identifying parts of genitalia, and one book approved for fourth-graders shows graphic cartoons of people having sex in different positions.

“People who are in favor of this law being passed think that it’s about consent and think that we can opt out and think that we have curriculum options, but … in kindergarten through third grade, there is only one approved curriculum,” she said. “And that’s exactly where parents are getting these images … from the curriculum already approved. And so there’s no choice.”

Comprehensive sex ed bill passes House, just needs Senate to ratify amendments

Since Superintendent Chris Reykdal and his office approve state curriculum, Espinoza decided that a change in leadership was needed.

“We need someone in this role who has political courage, not someone who uses their office to advance a political agenda,” she said.

She believes Reykdal’s mistake was making sex ed a party-line issue instead of a neutral topic; instead of the normal, age-appropriate topics taught in typical Washington classrooms, she said he has allowed a new curriculum that gets explicit at early ages.

“We wouldn’t be so concerned about it if we weren’t aware of the curriculum that he thinks is okay,” she said. “What was normally being taught in school was not the issue. They wanted to really step this up, and they did it in the dead of night, party line.”

As superintendent, Espinoza would not necessarily want to get rid of the sex ed curriculum, but rather add options.

“I certainly would look at it and have my own task force of parents, with both dissenting people and those who think this is okay– get in a room and take a look at this stuff,” she said. “I’m not the type of leader who would come in and say, ‘This is my vision and I’m changing it.’ I would get people together from both sides, as I do in all my work in politics, to make sure we get something that appeals to everyone.”

While Reykdal has said that the curriculum needs to be approved by each individual school district, Espinoza said it actually takes away that piece of local oversight.

“Parents and school districts don’t have the options that they normally have … it takes away the local control choice and mandates these specific approved curriculum statewide,” Espinoza said. “We don’t do this with any other subject, but for whatever reason, [Reykdal] thought it was important to do with this subject.”

Espinoza was especially hurt when Superintendent Reykdal made a metaphor between parents opposing sex ed and people who still believe the Earth is flat (see 58:00 in this video).

“I understand that they want to make sure we’re teaching about consent — we appreciate all of that, but [not] the disturbing elements of this,” she said. “We’re being referred to as flat-Earthers and Holocaust deniers because we’re concerned about the content that is being approved.”

Chief among Espinoza’s other concerns is how far Washington public schools lag behind the rest of the world.

“Our public schools are not measuring up, unless you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with an exceptional school — which actually reaffirms my point. Exceptional schools are the exception, not the norm; our schools have been failing for a long time,” she said. “But this issue, another piece to take away parental involvement … is really the last straw. We’ve got to do something about that.”

To learn more, visit Espinoza’s official campaign website.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

Menacing pitbull...
Dori Monson Show

Woman attacked by pit bulls near homeless camp: ‘These dogs have more rights than me’

With more than 12 vicious dog bites on her legs and “way too many” stitches to count, Amy Craven was released from the hospital this week following an 11-day stay to recover from an attack by two pit bull terriers near North Lake Union.
16 hours ago
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Former prison cellmate believes triple murderer is `not evil,’ should be freed

The 42-year-old case is back in the news after the Washington state Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board approved a summer release for Pauley.
2 days ago
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Triple killer to be released unless Gov. Inslee overrules parole board

After 42 years behind bars, convicted killer Timothy Pauley, 63, has been approved for release by the Washington Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board.
3 days ago
Marysville School District...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Parent permission for Marysville school clubs becomes `hot button’ over LGTBQ issue

The intent to the proposed policy change, Atchley said, is to assure that parents “have the ability to know where their children are at all times.”
7 days ago
OlyToys, Don Wolph's toy refurbishing business in Olympia....
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Olympia Toy-Restorer ordered by County to kick disabled friend off his property

Wolph told Dori’s listeners, Thurston County officials have told him he and his wife of 47 years must evict their friend because “she cannot live on my property for more than 30 days.”
8 days ago
Sound Transit employee records video of homeless individuals on light rail. (Jason Rantz/KTTH Radio...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: The Sound Transit rolling drug den

Onboard: a series of apparently homeless drug addicts, riding the train while smoking various drugs or passed out across the seats.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Sex ed bill inspired activist Maia Espinoza to run for superintendent