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Education reform group Stand For Children endorses Rob McKenna for governor

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on May 18, 2012 at 8:22 am |
May 18, 2012 8:58 am

The reform group that endorsed Democrat Chris Gregoire four years ago and endorsed far more Democrats for the state Legislature than Republicans made a little news this morning by endorsing Republican Rob McKenna for governor.

Stand for Children, which describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group, gave the current Washington Attorney General its support over likely Democratic finalist Jay Inslee.

Rob McKenna

“As a lifelong Democrat, I’ll admit that I struggled with this decision. The fact is that party labels just aren’t a good enough reason to not endorse the right champion for education,” said Jennifer Vranek, a Stand PAC Board member and founder of the policy firm Education First.

The endorsement resulted partly from what the group called a “blind taste test.” Questionnaires submitted by both McKenna and Inslee were presented to members without identifying the candidate. After reading the answers, 50 percent favored McKenna and 38 percent selected Inslee. The rest did not choose a candidate.

“Stand is an education organization, so of course we use a rubric to grade and rate candidates,” said Shannon Campion. executive director of the Washington chapter of Stand For Children. “McKenna scored exceptionally well on all five of our candidate criteria, led in the survey we emailed to our members, and earned a 9-2 vote from our PAC Board.”

“I was really impressed with McKenna’s depth of knowledge and passion about education,” Vranek said. We’re looking for a change agent, and after the interviews it was clear that Rob McKenna will prioritize education and get better results for our kids.”

Here’s the press release issued this morning

Stand for Children Washington Endorses Rob McKenna for Governor

Stand for Children Washington, a statewide non-profit non-partisan advocacy organization that puts students first, is endorsing Attorney General Rob McKenna for Governor.

Full video of the endorsement interview: https://stand.org/washington/take-action-washington-students/2012-election-endorsements/governors-race/endorsement

“McKenna is incredibly aligned with our policy goals for kids, has the track record of entrepreneurial leadership, and will make improving outcomes for students and closing the achievement gap a top priority for his administration,” said Shannon Campion, Executive Director of Washington Stand. “Our kids need and deserve a governor who will put them first.”

Stand has a history of bipartisan endorsements. They endorsed Gregoire in the 2008 governor’s race, and split their legislative endorsements in 2010 with 19 Democrats and 6 Republicans. They plan on announcing this year’s legislative endorsements later this month.

“As a lifelong Democrat, I’ll admit that I struggled with this decision. The fact is that party labels just aren’t a good enough reason to not endorse the right champion for education,” said Jennifer Vranek, a Stand PAC Board member and founder of the policy firm Education First. “I was really impressed with McKenna’s depth of knowledge and passion about education. We’re looking for a change agent, and after the interviews it was clear that Rob McKenna will prioritize education and get better results for our kids.”

Stand for Children’s members picked McKenna in a “blind taste test” which allowed members read both candidates’ endorsement questionnaires and choose between “Candidate A” or “Candidate B.” Fifty percent of respondents picked “Candidate A” – McKenna –while only 38% picked Inslee (12% skipped the question).

In addition to earning high marks for his innovative approaches and leadership skills, McKenna’s education platform lines up with Stand’s policy priorities, and he understands that it takes all of us working together to help students succeed.

“We have to decide that education and public schools are going to be our top priority,” said McKenna. “The union is a very important stakeholder. So are individual teachers, so are the other adults in the system. But most of all it’s the kids.”

He went on to add that education isn’t just a means to getting a job, but that it’s about self-actualization, exploring the world and being a better person.

McKenna has over 20 years of volunteering experience in public schools and, as Attorney General since 2004, has visited over 100 public schools statewide. His mother was a schoolteacher and he has four children of his own, all of whom attended public schools.

“Rob McKenna had concrete, specific proposals for improving education and getting better outcomes for our kids,” said Brooke Beresh, a Seattle mom on Stand’s PAC Board. “He didn’t talk in generalities, he talked about making education the top priority, investing in what works and accepting no excuses. That’s how you close the achievement gap.”

“No excuses,” said McKenna. “That means no excuses for the child–every child has to believe in herself. No excuses for the adults either.”

“Stand is an education organization, so of course we use a rubric to grade and rate candidates,” said Campion. “McKenna scored exceptionally well on all five of our candidate criteria, led in the survey we emailed to our members, and earned a 9-2 vote from our PAC Board.”

“If you want to make a difference, you have to lead the change you want to see in the world,” said McKenna.

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