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State superintendent’s race by the numbers

The Voter's Pamphlet. (MyNorthwest)

There are six candidates running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, including incumbent Chris Reykdal, in the August primary for Washington state. Schools are a major sticking point for how the state reopens or shuts back down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The superintendent’s leadership weighs heavy on how local districts react.

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Here’s a breakdown of what each candidate prioritized in the voter’s pamphlet, based on key words found in their statements:

Of the six candidates, zero mentioned “social justice, race, or equality.” These issues have become increasingly important for voters this summer since the killing of George Floyd on May 25. The final day to submit candidate statements and photos for the state voter’s pamphlet was May 22.

Only one candidate mentioned “sex education” in reference to a new sex-ed curriculum the state is adopting for instruction in districts. That candidate was Ron Higgins, who opposes the curriculum. He was also the only candidate to mention the Constitution. Maia Espinoza’s campaign informed MyNorthwest that incumbent Chris Reykdal sued over her previous statement, not included in the voter’s pamphlet, about the sex ed curriculum. Espinoza opposes the curriculum.

Two candidates mentioned “parental choice or parental rights.” Those two candidates were Ron Higgins and Maia Espinoza. Higgins said he supports parents’ rights to homeschool. Espinoza said she supports parental choice and local control.

Only one candidate mentioned “shutdown or lockdown” in reference to the coronavirus or a pandemic. David Spring used most of his statement in the pamphlet to discuss the state shutting schools for the pandemic. He would like to restore control to local schools.

Three candidates mentioned “technology or online” in reference to instruction and experience. As more districts choose to start school this fall in a 100% remote model, this topic might be more important to students and families. The candidates who mentioned it were Maia Espinoza, Dennis Wick, and Chris Reykdal.

Three candidates used the words “families or family” in their statements. Those candidates were Maia Espinoza, Chris Reykdal, and Ron Higgins.

All six candidates mentioned “teachers” in their statements, though the topics related to “teachers” varied. Reykdal said teachers are finally earning competitive salaries; Wick said he’ll focus on the relationship between the teacher and the student; Higgins and Spring said they are both teachers; Espinoza said teachers aren’t happy; and Stan Lippmann said he will provide guidance to teachers.

The state Superintendent of Public Instruction is a nonpartisan office.

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