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WA Superintendent candidate: Education dollars ‘belong to students, not the system’

(Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)

With Washington parents attempting to navigate virtual learning, an idea for partial tax refunds has been floated since taxpayers are paying a premium price for education and not getting it, as many school resources are shuttered. Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Maia Espinoza is pushing for this in her race with Chris Reykdal.

“These ‘back to school’ plans are really just an assault on working families and, frankly, single parents,” she told the Dori Monson Show. “There is no plan to reopen that’s made clear for schools, and we’ve seen that the result is a majority of school districts opting to go online. So people are asking themselves, ‘then what are we paying for?’ We’re seeing record rates of people pulling their kids out of public school to home-school them.”

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“As parents work, this is not working, and there are costs associated with having to educate your kids at home,” she added. “So I firmly believe — actually, back when schools closed in the spring, I put out an op-ed that said parents should receive a $2,500 student stipend to be able to fill in the gaps to educate their kids. So I absolutely think the education dollars that we spend in the state belong to the student, not the system.”

Dori noted that when he proposed this idea to Reykdal, he didn’t think schools would be able to afford it long-term. What’s her reaction to that?

“Superintendent Reykdal would like us to believe that somehow school is costing more as school buildings sit empty. We have schools that are not providing as many lunches. We have teachers that aren’t working. We have teachers that are furloughed. We have plenty of cost savings going on in education right now, and that money needs to get to the students that need the help,” Espinoza said.

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Espinoza says there’s been a lack of consistency in the manner in which schools are operating, which is a disservice to the kids and parents.

“There are plenty of parents that absolutely have to be at work, and their kids are stuck at home by themselves. If we allow our public schools to continue to operate day cares on-site at schools, we should be able to have kids in those classrooms. I just can’t believe that in Washington state we can go out to a restaurant in groups of five, but these kids cannot go into the classroom and sit at tables of five to learn,” she said.

“We are overseeing — I should say, my opponent is overseeing — the largest privatization of our public schools in history,” she continued. “He wants to pin me as the person trying to privatize schools by giving this money directly to the parents of those students. Instead, somehow we can pay for a lower COVID infection rate if you’re willing to pay for day care. These are day cares branded as academies operating in the same schools, the same kids, sometimes even the same classroom. But parents are having to pay for it. So if you’re willing to pay for it, your kid can receive face to face instruction. That’s not fair. And we need to make sure every parent has that opportunity for their kids.”

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

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