The Times recommends: Re-elect Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn
Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has strong principles and an independent streak. The Seattle Times Editorial Board endorses him for another term.
Seattle Times Editorial
THE election for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction often goes unnoticed. Yet, the job helping to improve Washington's public-school system from early learning to college is one of the most vital in state government.
Four candidates are vying in the Aug. 7 primary. We recommend Randy Dorn, a former Eatonville teacher, principal, legislator and the current state superintendent.
Without a strong challenger, Dorn is the choice for a second term. In four years, he has grown into a helpful, moderating voice between the powerful interests of the state teachers union and education reformers.
Dorn was an instrumental voice in support of revamping the public-school employee health-care system. He was one of the few courageous voices backing state Sen. Rodney Tom's push for a tougher teacher-evaluation system. A compromise bill passed instead. Dorn also supports using student data, including test scores, to rate teachers.
When Dorn was in the state House in the early 1990s, he was a key sponsor of the first education-reform law. He supported charter schools then and says he still does. He must better use his bully pulpit to push for reform and innovations that go beyond a handful of signature schools.
The next superintendent needs to be a key voice for scrutinizing education spending and better targeting schools spending in the wake of the recent state Supreme Court McCleary decision that said the state falls far short of fully funding K-12 education.
Dorn ran for election promising to replace the Washington Assessment of Student Learning test with shorter, more efficient tests. The two new tests take students 40 percent less time and will eventually transition to online tests.
Dorn deserves credit for smaller innovations, such as allowing nonnative English-language speakers to earn course credit for languages they speak. The change is welcome acknowledgment of the many bilingual students in the system and a shift away from a traditional "seat-time" view in which students only get credit if they sit through a class.
Dorn's opponents, Don Hansler and Ron Higgens, are former teachers. A third, James Bauckman, is a current teacher. None match Dorn's education and legislative experience.