Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn will not seek a third term in 2016, after winning nonpartisan elections for his post in 2008 and 2012.
A former school teacher, state lawmaker, and leader of a union for school service employees, Dorn has led the state education department during several notable and contentious events in the Evergreen State. He’s been an advocate for increasing state funding for public schools, particularly after a 2012 state Supreme Court decision that found the state’s education funding system to be unconstitutional and required lawmakers to increase it over six years.
In 2015, for example, Dorn released a plan that called for a $2.2 billion increase in school spending—more than what many legislators wanted. He also pushed to change local property tax levies that he said created inequitable K-12 funding.
Dorn also had to deal with the fallout from the state losing its waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act because it didn’t (and doesn’t) require districts to include student outcomes on state tests in teacher evaluation issues. (Back when he ran for state superintendent in 2008, Dorn criticized the state for making its assessment high stakes.) Among other consequences, the state had to re-educate parents on what NCLB required in certain situations, such as public notifications when schools did not meet adequate yearly progress.
Despite some political pushback to the Common Core State Standards and aligned assessments from Smarter Balanced, including a notable share of students opting out of the exams in high school, Dorn has remained steadfast in support of both.
Not surprisingly for an independently elected schools chief, he’s defended the power of his office. Back in 2011, he attacked a proposal from then-Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, to create a new education secretary who would report to her, calling the plan a misguided power play.
“I answer to the people, not to a secretary of education,” Mr. Dorn said in an interview at the time. “Are you going to try to subvert and limit an elected official’s power? I think you have to go to the people” to make such leadership changes.
Superintendent Randy Dorn of Washington state announced Thursday he won’t seek a third term.
--Photograph by Jim Bates/AP-File
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.