Randy Dorn speaking
Randy Dorn speaking

Incum­bent Wash­ing­ton State Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion Randy Dorn announced today that he has decid­ed against run­ning for reelec­tion in 2016, which means we will have an open race for OSPI next year.

In a state­ment sent to NPI and oth­er media out­lets, Dorn announced his deci­sion and made it clear he would not be leav­ing politics:

After long, care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, I have decid­ed not to run for reelec­tion for the Office of Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion in 2016. This deci­sion doesn’t mean, though, that I am giv­ing up the fight for our stu­dents and for a ful­ly fund­ed school sys­tem that is con­sis­tent with the para­mount duty of our state constitution.

I have made no secret of my extreme frus­tra­tion. Our con­sti­tu­tion requires a uni­form, amply fund­ed school sys­tem. But such a sys­tem doesn’t exist today, and I see lit­tle, if any, progress toward cre­at­ing one. The Gov­er­nor has nev­er offered a plan for reform­ing levies and reach­ing full state funding.

Some promis­ing pro­pos­als have been intro­duced in the Leg­is­la­ture, but none have made it even to a com­mit­tee vote. And the state Supreme Court has yet to impose sanc­tions mean­ing­ful enough to com­pel the Gov­er­nor and Leg­is­la­ture to act. Our stu­dents need and deserve vig­or­ous action from adults. But nei­ther the Gov­er­nor, the Leg­is­la­ture nor the Court have pro­vid­ed that leadership.

Regard­ing my future, I am keep­ing my options open.

I promise that, no mat­ter what, I will be watch­ing state offi­cials very care­ful­ly. Mean­ing­ful progress must be made to reform our inad­e­quate, inequitable and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al school fund­ing system.

As an edu­ca­tor and elect­ed offi­cial, I have spent my career fight­ing for our stu­dents. I am not about to stop now.

It has been an open secret in Olympia that Dorn was con­tem­plat­ing step­ping down as OSPI, and in fact, two would-be suc­ces­sors have already announced their can­di­da­cies: State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chris Reyk­dal (D‑22nd Dis­trict; Olympia) and Taco­ma school dis­trict AVID direc­tor Erin Jones, who pre­vi­ous­ly served as the Assis­tant Super­in­ten­dent of Stu­dent Achieve­ment under Dorn.

Both Jones and Reyk­dal have filed with the PDC and have been rais­ing mon­ey. They may be joined by oth­er can­di­dates now that Dorn has announced his step down.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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