Spokane Public Schools has undergone important changes in the past few years, and school board President Bob Douthitt has been a steady leader throughout. Voters should reward that stewardship and re-elect him to the board.
The biggest success has been the hiring of dynamic Superintendent Shelley Redinger, who has shaken up downtown administration, diverted more resources to classrooms and embraced alternative forms of learning. She has welcomed charter schools, and so has Douthitt, unlike his more cautious colleagues around the state. As a result, the district could be the first in the state to offer one, or more, of the charter schools voters said they want. He sees it as a way to expand current choices.
Douthitt supported the critical decision to bring all-day kindergarten to every elementary school. That effort won’t be fully funded by the state until 2018, but the board decided it couldn’t wait because the primary grades are vital to an overall improvement strategy. In a related move, the district is supporting Common Core Standards, and for that change to succeed children must be ready to learn at a younger age. Research shows that if disadvantaged children haven’t caught up with their peers by third grade, they may never catch them.
Common Core has become a political football but, as Douthitt correctly notes, the state has maintained standards for 20 years. The amount of local control will not change. In math, the standard is somewhat equivalent to the current one. In language arts, however, the bar will be raised. With Common Core, our state will be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons to other states, then raise the sights.
Douthitt supports new security measures, which include arming resource officers, who train with law enforcement. He says the district still has many challenges, such as the best configuration for middle schools and whether sixth-graders should move up. On this and many other issues, he’s engaged, informed and level-headed.
In her first run for the Spokane Public Schools board, Sally Fullmer wrote in a Spokesman-Review campaign questionnaire, “Transparency and honest dialogue between the district, the board and the public is essential.” We’d quote this year’s information sheet, but she didn’t return one. She also hasn’t returned phone calls or email from the newsroom or the editorial board.
So much for transparency. This does not suggest a public official who will communicate with the public and, possibly, her colleagues.
Fullmer got her start in education politics when she was among a group that tried to prevent the district from moving Jefferson Elementary School to a location across from her home. From that platform, she ran for the board in 2011, losing to Deanna Brower. We don’t know what she’s done since – and she isn’t eager to say – so we couldn’t possibly recommend voting for her.
Douthitt is the clear choice in this race.