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How the Superintendent of Public Instruction can empower workers


(Oct. 20, 2016) — My name is Chris Reykdal, and I am running to serve as our Superintendent of Public Instruction, the chief officer of our state’s public schools. I am endorsed in this race by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; the Washington Education Association; and nearly 30 local affiliates across the state.

This race often goes unnoticed, but let me share four opportunities to help you understand how critical this office can be to working families.

school-cutsFirst, the Superintendent can develop K-12 Operating Budget requests that fully fund our schools in a more equitable way. These budgets will empower the labor movement beyond K-12 by identifying more progressive and bipartisan revenue solutions that do not continue to overtax the middle class and working poor; by fully compensating teachers and support staff; by seeking targeted dollars to fully fund and restore career and technical education programs; and by not sacrificing the social safety net, higher education, pension funds, or other vital state services important to working families.

school-constructionSecond, the Superintendent can submit capital budget requests that create jobs and enforce labor standards. My capital budget plan will produce nearly $2 billion in bond capacity to employ tens of thousands of workers to build schools across the state, and I will also refocus the capital budget team to carry out professional development for local district capital budget leaders. This team will carry out professional development and best practices related to contractor selection, prevailing wage enforcement, apprenticeship utilization, and Community Labor Agreements/Project Labor Agreements. Workers, contractors, and school districts are all better off when we play by the same rules.

kids-today-apprenticeshipThird, the Superintendent can help restore career and technical education (CTE) programs and pre-apprenticeship pathways to graduation in three ways:

●  OSPI can ensure that students who engage in CTE programs receive credit towards on-time graduation;

●  We can expand the number of programs that partner with organized labor and the business community to provide students with real-time job experience while they earn high school credits, pre-apprenticeship hours, and in some cases certified apprenticeship hours; and

●  We can ensure that our CTE programs and Skills Centers are getting the necessary funds and equipment to sustain relevant and contemporary programs to meet today’s workforce needs.

labor-history-womenFinally, we can integrate labor history and labor/management rights learning standards across many subjects. From history to CTE programs to business classes, we can help the next generation of students to understand the history of the labor movement, contemporary labor rights, and contemporary management rights. We can build a more productive public and private sector by empowering young people. Future employers and future workers are better off with mutual understanding and a clear grounding of how to effectively partner.

reykdal-chrisI am prepared to create a new energy and approach to CTE and pre-apprenticeship in the State of Washington. One-size-fits-all education is not improving the graduation rate and it’s leaving our employers and labor organizations woefully short of the workforce they need to grow the economy and replace the current baby-boom retirement surge.

It’s time for OSPI to empower working families and employers in every aspect of the organization. Let’s grow and maintain Washington’s working families together!

Chris Reykdal is a State Representative and is labor’s endorsed candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Learn more at

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