Every Child a Dream
Strong public education was written in our state’s genetic code. Washington’s constitution pledges not merely to school but to provide ample education to all children, for our pioneers knew an educated populace paved the road to prosperity. Our early investment blossomed into countless creations which changed the world.
By the 1960s, Washington peaked as a top five state for economic mobility; few places found it easier to better one’s station by the sweat of their brow and the knowledge and dreams just behind it. Yet now, you will not find Washington in the top half of states for achieving this American Dream.
The majority of students in Everett Public Schools no longer meet competency standards in math. More than a third do not meet standards in reading and writing. Parents fleeing education deficits, not to mention safety and policy concerns, mean declining enrollment and fewer resources to right the ship.
With a $28 million budget deficit, we need creativity, resource optimization, and specialization to do more with less. As a PhD economist, I’m experienced in exactly this—getting the best outcome possible given limited resources. I believe constraint fosters innovation, and we cannot afford our present path.
I’ve taught in college classrooms and understand many of the challenges facing teachers, whether involving students or administrators. I’ve also seen too many graduates entering college as an obligation and in need of remedial education. Many would’ve been better off without the debt and in the trades.
I’m a parent and uncle to current Everett Public Schools students; no school board decision is merely academic to me. With a new generation of motivated leadership, we can get EPS back on track. With smart, scientifically-proven policies putting students and teachers first, my children and yours can receive the world-class education they deserve.
Every child has their own unique talents, interests, and history, and each a different spark waiting to be enflamed into a passion they long to pursue. Maybe it’s science or music or people or machinery or history or just applying what they learn to real life.
Creating education excellence means meeting every student where they are, not where we wish they would be. What we bring must complement what they already have. For the gifted, bring challenge. For the struggling, bring patience. For the broken, bring companionship.
We must not be satisfied here. We must climb higher. We must reach further. And with every enkindled dream, we reignite the American Dream for all.
Dr. Ryne Rohla serves Washington as a research economist for the Department of Social and Health Services and as an antitrust economist for the state Attorney General’s office. His antitrust work protects Washingtonians from corporate collusion, price fixing, and monopolies, leading to injunctions and over $40 million for taxpayers from corporations who refused to play fair.
He previously worked as an academic, teaching economics for four years at Washington State University and crafting original research at UCLA published in Science and covered in international media. Ryne also worked as a math tutor and a consultant for clients including The New York Times.
Ryne—a graduate of Stanwood High School—and his wife Hally both grew up in Snohomish County, meeting at Everett Community College during Running Start. They live in the Silver Lake area; their oldest daughter is an Everett Public Schools kindergartener, with two more daughters pre-kindergarten. Ryne is the only candidate in the race with children in Everett Public Schools.
He is involved in our community as a member of the Port Gardner PTSA, as a little league coach, by bringing people together through Braver Angels, by organizing material support for expectant mothers and parents of newborns, and through the Knights of Columbus and his church. During the pandemic, Ryne volunteered in several vaccine clinics and was previously an enumerator for the United States Census.
How We Can Climb Higher
Forge Pathways for All Talents
One-size-fits-all education fails both the gifted and the struggling. As a college instructor, I saw many students who were only attending college because it was expected of them and the only way they were told they could be successful. Too many of these students accomplished little more than accruing decades of debt and dropping out. At the same time, students more academically inclined are not given the resources they need to excel and find the heights of their abilities. Instead, let’s:
- Introduce students early and often to vocational career paths and the skilled trades with programs like Marysville’s RAP. Every graduate not intending to go to college should be placed in an apprenticeship or internship program before they graduate. Staff shadowing—including IT personnel, nurses, and finance officers—should be encouraged for any student. When the district funds construction projects, students interested in trades should get hands-on experience in the building process.
- For students with high academic interests, allow for more course flexibility and encourage acceleration opportunities from elementary school. Ideally, EPS students headed to college should be able to earn enough college credits to cover an Associate’s Degree before graduation. This can happen through Running Start, AP courses, College in the High School, or other dual credit programs.
- Expand EPS choice programs, such as the Lighthouse Elementary Cooperative at Jefferson Elementary or the STEAM Program, to all parts of the district, especially north Everett. Parents should be given more tailored options in their children’s education. Additional options specializing in the trades should be considered.
Invest in Competence
Nothing builds student confidence like competence. Current teaching and evaluation techniques, however, incentivize cramming and regurgitating information for tests without any real understanding. By far, the number one question I received as an instructor was, “Is this going to be on the exam?” Material easily crammed is even more easily forgotten. Instead, let’s:
- Emphasize understanding systems and building self-sufficiency rather than rote memorization. Studies show phonics, for example, beats rote memorization in improving reading abilities and allows students to figure out new words for themselves. Although I disliked diagramming sentences as a student, it gave me the tools to figure out why different verb tenses follow different clause types.
- Focus on application as a measure of evaluation over standardized testing. While test scores and graduation rates matter, they are easily manipulated and incentivize lowering standards. True understanding of material comes when you can explain why something works and use it in hands-on situations. These can range from games and simulations to competitions and contests to apprenticeships and staff shadowing. Teacher evaluation should rely on value-added models and peer evaluation.
- Ensure funding flows to classrooms rather than administrators and activists.
- Investigate personalized AI tutoring advances which can be tailored to the needs and progress of each student. These programs complement traditional teaching and tutoring at low cost.
Thrive in Safety and Health
It’s difficult for anyone to learn and thrive in an unsafe environment or with unmet mental health and disability needs. To promote safety:
- Bullying, classroom disruption, and drug abuse must be met with swift discipline, including suspensions and expulsions, when necessary. It is unacceptable when rampant drug use shuts down the only restroom on the floor of a school, as recently occurred in north Everett. Lawsuit aversion is not a good reason to allow students to suffer.
- Physical security, including access control systems and school resource officers, should be prioritized to prevent unauthorized entry.
- When possible, pay teachers for summer training sessions teaching methods for dealing with behavioral issues.
Mental health holds a special place in my heart as someone who has lost a close family member to suicide. I believe mental health services, counseling which deals with trauma and the root causes of ailments, and emergency outreach should be readily available to all students. Further, I support:
- Limiting student access to smartphones while on school property. Smartphones not only create avenues to engage in cyberbullying and text-based bullying, but they interfere with learning and shorten attention spans.
- Dedicating ample time to recess and physical activity, which promotes mental fitness, behavioral improvement, and socialization while combatting rising childhood obesity.
New special education funding from the state legislature presents a tremendous opportunity to ensure adequate services, accommodations, and tools reach students needing additional help. We must ensure this funding is not sapped by others.
Cassie Franklin, Everett Mayor
Ben Zarlingo, Everett City Council
Scott Bader, Everett City Council (former)
Connie Allison, Mill Creek City Council
Sam Low, Snohomish County Council and State Representative
Nate Nehring, Snohomish County Council
Terry Ryan, Snohomish County Council (former)
Mark Harmsworth, State Representative (former)
Joe Marine, Mukilteo Mayor
Jon Nehring, Marysville Mayor
Mark James, Marysville City Council
Peter Condyles, Marysville City Council
The Everett Herald
Snohomish & Island County Labor Council
LiUNA Laborers Local 292
Snohomish County Moderates
Concerned Taxpayers of Snohomish County
Mainstream Republicans of Washington
Snohomish County Deputy Sheriffs Association
International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302
Mary Anderson, Judge Pro Tem
Anne Anderson, Executive Director, Victim Support Services