Othello gets visit from candidate for state superintendent of public instruction

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | May 12, 2020 5:42 PM

OTHELLO — A candidate for a state-level public education office stopped in Othello recently and spoke about why she is running.

Maia Espinoza visited Othello Community Hospital on Wednesday, May 6, to drop off a few pens and snacks to nurses, including an old friend, as a way of saying “thank you” on National Nurses Day.

She said she believes it is time to re-examine the entirety of K-12 education.

“American public education has not been updated since the industrial era; it was put together with a factory model, and we haven’t really looked at it since,” she said.

Espinoza is a 30-year-old mother of two, a teacher and a business owner. She seeks to replace Chris Reykdal as the state superintendent of public instruction in the election in November.

Espinoza also helps run her family’s manufacturing supply business, is the executive director of the Center for Latino Leadership, and is a part-time music teacher at her children’s school in Lacey.

She ran for a seat in the Washington state House in 2018, in the 28th District, but did not win.

One thing that motivated her to run for the superintendent of public instruction position was the controversial sex ed bill passed by the state legislature earlier this year.

“That was what really made me say ‘enough is enough, we’ve got to do something about education,’” she said. “I don’t think sex ed is a top priority, and actually the data shows that half of our kids aren’t passing our state standards in math or science, and 40 percent can’t pass English standards.”

The measure was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on March 27. It mandates that all schools adopt a comprehensive sex ed curriculum for K-12 students.

Espinoza said the real problem with the new law is that it takes away local control from districts, teachers and parents.

“The curriculum options in the bill are concerning to a lot of parents,” she said.