By ERIC STEVICK
MUKILTEO — You didn’t see his name on a ballot, but Ron Woldeit has been elected to represent the 2nd Congressional District — not in the other Washington, but in Olympia.
Woldeit will resign from the Mukilteo School Board to serve northwest Washington on the state Board of Education after running unopposed in a recent election.
He will leave a board that looks out for the needs of 14,000 students to one that affects 1 million.
His run for the state board was more civics lesson than campaign. Most people Woldeit encounters, including elected officials, have no idea how the board is chosen.
"My guess is 99 percent don’t know," Woldeit said.
Local school board members within the congressional districts elect state Board of Education members. Their votes are weighted by enrollment within their school districts.
It’s a relatively low-profile board that faces increasingly high-profile issues. Among other things, it will decide within the next few years if the 10th-grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning, a series of rigorous tests in reading, writing, math and listening, is a valid high school graduation requirement.
It recently revised the minimum statewide high school graduation requirements, requiring seniors to complete "culminating projects" by the year 2004.
"Ron brings a valuable sensibility to the state Board of Education," said Judy Schwab, vice president of the Mukilteo School Board. "The bottom line for Ron has always been what’s best for kids."
"Ron is going to ask them some tough questions," Schwab predicted.
Larry Davis, executive director of the state board, invites the new perspective.
"That’s what any board member should do, ask tough questions," he said.
Woldeit said educators need to remember students "are not robots" and that they progress at different rates. Traditionally, birth dates determine when children enter the public education system and when they will take critical state exams in high school, he said.
"I think we will have to take a look at that."
Woldeit, whose children graduated from Mukilteo schools, continues to volunteer at Lake Stickney Elementary School. After he leaves the school board, he plans to help the Mariner High School site council as a community member.
He said he likes the direction the school district is heading and is particularly pleased with its commitment to ensure students are reading on grade level by the third grade.
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