If voters dont turn out for this guy, Washingtons version of Betsy DeVos could end up running our public schools.
If voters don't turn out for this guy, Washington's version of Betsy DeVos could end up running our public schools. COURTESY OF CHRIS REYKDAL CAMPAIGN

On Monday afternoon a group of Democratic leaders and teachers convened a press conference to collectively flip shit about the possibility of Maia Espinoza winning her race against incumbent Chris Reykdal to become Washington's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Governor Jay Inslee tied "Chris's opponent" to Trump with nearly every sentence he uttered, and he highlighted the dangers of Espinoza's public school privatization scheme, which would provide $2,500 vouchers for students to spend on private schools or for "desks, internet access, and other supplies need to learn from home." Reykdal told The Columbian such a program would cost $2.5 billion, which Inslee said would "undermine education" in the state and lead to "fewer teachers."

Seattle U.S. House Rep. Pramila Jayapal said “the ease and the frequency with which Republican Maia Espinoza lies is troubling," and pointed to the fact that the candidate "never served as a certified K-12 teacher" even though she lists "school teacher" under "other professional experience" in the voters' pamphlet. The AP reports Espinoza "taught music class at her daughter’s private school one day a week."

Jayapal also called Espinoza the "Betsy DeVos of Washington state," but noted that "at least Betsy DeVos is honest about what she wants to do" and doesn't “hide her privatization agenda." On that tip:

Other false claims and exaggerations from Espinoza include her listing a degree she hadn't earned yet on the voters' pamphlet, her "nonprofit's" website claiming the organization had secured federal tax-exempt status when it most certainly had not, and the ever-presence of her claim that Reykdal supports a comprehensive sexual health education policy that teaches sex positions to fourth graders, which he does not.

A note on that nonsense: Though a Thurston County Superior Court Judge ruled that latter false claim to be false, last week a majority of Washington's Supreme Court Justices ruled the claim "not demonstrably false" because there's a tortured logical path one could walk to make it not technically false, but not true either.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Steven Gonzalez wrote that the "trail of bread crumbs is just too faint" between "Reykdal championed a policy that teaches sexual position to 4th graders" and "Reykdal runs an agency that described as 'age-appropriate' a curriculum that lists in one of its 4th grade lesson plans under 'supplementary materials for parents' a book about puberty that includes illustrations of people having sex in two different positions." Which it is! Any hapless fictional German children following that trail of crumbs would have starved to death on their way to reach Espinoza's ridiculous conclusion, and yet here we are.

And before we move on, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out Espinoza's latest bullshit jab at The Stranger. In a press release last week, she claimed Reykdal's failure to crack 50% in the August primary prompted "tabloids like the Seattle Stranger to engage in the worst kind of yellow journalism." First of all, The Stranger provides only the best and most accurate kind of yellow journalism around, and our coverage extends far beyond Seattle. Of course, it helps if a story happens directly outside our guest room at Club Z. But more to the point, and though it pains me to say it, the Associated Press and the Washington State Wire broke the most damning Espinoza stories in this race. We've only reported on her spreading false information in robocalls and on the reasons Reykdal ran so far behind Inslee in the primaries. Still, we're flattered to earn a shout-out in the email blast.

Anyway, State House Rep. Monica Stonier said she was "very concerned that someone with no qualifications has been placed on the ballot with an education champion like Reykdal," and took a shot at unnamed Republican legislators who have been "very quiet" despite working with her on the language of the sex ed bill.

The two teachers—Michelle Dinkins, an elementary school teacher in Olympia; and Michael Peña, a high school science teacher in Mukilteo and a member of the teachers' union—threw their support behind Reykdal for his work to guide school districts through the pandemic and for his efforts to address equity gaps.

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The conference comes a day after Northwest Progressive Institute published the results of a statewide poll showing Reykdal with the lowest numbers of any other incumbent the group surveyed—30% for him, 23% for her, and 47% not sure—including Republican State Treasurer Duane Davidson. Wait, Duane who? Exactly.

The race's low-profile and nonpartisan status means name recognition for both candidates remains relatively low, and voters can't rely on partisan markers to pick the candidate who best aligns with their political ideology. Hence the press conference / Reykdal campaign rally, Jayapal argued.

Though anyone who thoroughly reviews the records and accomplishments of both candidates would not find the choice here difficult to make, Jayapal added: "The challenge is there’s a lot of energy around the presidential race, and sometimes races that are critically important to the future of our kids and our state don’t always get the attention that they should."