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Chris Reykdal is choice for state's school chief

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has done a solid job in his first term in office.

Public education in the state is moving in the right direction and Washington’s education system is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic better than most states.

No, it’s not perfect for every student or family.

And Reykdal’s challenger, Maia Espinoza, is quick to point that out. She is frustrated with current distance learning options in some schools and the disruption it causes to families. She is particularly focused on improving education for migrant students.

Espinoza sees the current upheaval in education caused by the pandemic as an opportunity to start overhauling education — looking at everything from longer school days and extended school years to make the system more flexible for modern two-working-parent households.

Espinoza is clearly intelligent, energetic and passionate. She has served on the Governor’s Commission for Hispanic Affairs and ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature two years ago as a Republican.

Espinoza is committed to seeing her vision for education in the state come to fruition.

Yet, she has relatively little experience in education and management. While we found her to be very impressive, she is not yet ready to oversee the state’s Office of Public Instruction.

Reykdal, who served three terms in the state House as a Democrat, has experience as a high school teacher and a financial analyst. He served on a local school board and has spent 14 years as an executive in the state’s community and technical college system.

He is intelligent and has an impressive grasp of even the smallest detail of the issues his office focuses on.

Reykdal’s passion for education is also apparent.

For example, he has a vision for the future that includes “blowing up” the junior and senior years of high school to provide greater flexibility to students either heading to college, trade school or the job market. He wants expanded opportunities for those wanting a career in the trades. And those headed to college might find ways to better prepare themselves for that experience with a new look for the last two years of high school.

Reykdal understands the one-size-fits-all approach has not served every student equally.

Reykdal could talk for hours about all the areas he would like to see improvement — from dual-language programs to providing more help for mental health and other issues students face — to make the state’s education system work for more students.

Reykdal has had successes in his first four years in office and we expect more in the future. We recommend Reykdal be re-elected to a second term.