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THE 37th Legislative District’s Position 1 needs a legislator willing to compromise and represent the best interests of a diverse district where many schools are struggling and persistent achievement gaps threaten to leave students behind.

That means turning out the incumbent in favor of the promising political newcomer, Daniel Bretzke of Seattle. The moderate Republican faces an uphill battle against a 16-year legislative veteran, state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle.

The Democrat chairs the House Education Committee and is in a position to make a huge difference for kids. Yet, she has repeatedly used her power to stall meaningful education reforms opposed by the teachers union.

While Santos should be focused on the Legislature meeting its court-mandated obligations to fully fund education, she wants to make the challenge worse. She supports Initiative 1351, the teachers union-backed measure that requires class sizes across all grades to be reduced, the hiring of thousands more teachers and building of more classrooms. Yet, there is no funding mechanism in sight.

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This past session, Santos ignored Seattle Schools’ plea for a change in the law to include some level of student test scores in teacher evaluations. As a result, the state’s districts lost control of around $40 million worth of federal funding, including about $2.8 million for academically struggling students in Seattle Schools.

Bretzke would better serve the citizens of this economically and racially diverse district, bringing more independent thinking to Olympia. He has lived in the district for three decades, working in real estate.

He grasps the complexities and nuances of the education debate. For instance, Bretzke supports the concept of smaller class sizes, but in pre-K through third grade, where research supports the effectiveness. He is not ideologically opposed to raising taxes for education or transportation, although he does not support creating a state income tax.

More important, Bretzke would cooperate with the district’s other state representative, Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, whose previous efforts at reforms to benefit students in troubled schools have been obstructed by Santos.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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