Ron Higgins said he wouldn't be too disappointed if another candidate for Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction plagiarized his platform and ran with it to Olympia.
That would allow Higgins, a substitute teacher for two years, to keep doing what he's come to enjoy -- teaching.
"I don't want to get away from the classroom, but I don't think we're serving these kids very well," he told the Herald.
The Richland resident is one of five candidates, and the only one from Eastern Washington, who will be on the ballot this November vying for the state's top office in public education.
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Higgins contends the state isn't doing enough to help students and teachers and isn't teaching students the basics of their civil rights and responsibilities. The state needs to do more to prevent the decay that is wrecking society, he said.
The former Marine first came to the Tri-Cities to work as a trainer for reactor operators for a Hanford contractor in 1978. He also worked for a time for Energy Northwest and as a licensing examiner for the U.S. Department of Energy.
It wasn't until after retirement that he pursued teaching at the insistence of his two adult children. He received his certificate in April 2010 with a mathematics endorsement and has taught preschool to high school students in six Mid-Columbia school districts.
Higgins said his experiences in the classroom shaped his perspectives on education, including how hard most teachers work to educate students and the lack of knowledge most students have about civics and government.
Higgins said all curriculum needs to be aligned with the principles found in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
He also wants to restore constitutional liberties to schools, including the freedoms of religion, speech, the press and association. Not teaching those principles puts the country at future risk, Higgins said.
"We'll end up with Mussolini," he said, meaning people would allow their rights to be taken by others if those rights aren't understood, referring to the Italian dictator during World War II.
Changes to how education is delivered also are needed. Higgins said he'd seek in-state college tuition for children of immigrants, saying many speak English well and are patriotic about the U.S. At the same time, he wants to make education more relevant, reducing what is required for graduation unless a student plans to pursue higher education.
"I just want kids to realize the world they're walking into," he said.
Higgins also wants to focus on social issues. He would overhaul sex education, emphasizing the importance of marriage as being between a man and a woman and the dangers of sexual experimentation. In addition to fighting drug and alcohol use by students, he would remove "gay" organizations from schools.
"Since 'gay' is simply a euphemism for homosexual activity and a libertine lifestyle, which is statistically more harmful than smoking, I consider such activity to be contrary to the health of our youth," he said in written comments to the Herald.
Other political figures have encouraged Higgins in his campaign. State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, said he met Higgins through Republican circles in Benton and Franklin counties, where he learned of Higgins' interest in running for Superintendent of Public Instruction.
"I told him if you're thinking about doing it, you should do it," Klippert said. "It's a civic responsibility."
That was the message Mary Ruth Edwards, a reading specialist in the Prosser School District and challenger to state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, said she gave to Higgins.
Edwards said she met Higgins when he attended one of the classes she offers on the U.S. Constitution. She said she wasn't familiar with his campaign platform but "if it's based on what I know of Ron and his stances, he wants to get back to basics."
And if Higgins wins, he said he's already developed a contingency plan so that he doesn't have to get too far from the students he wants to serve.
"I'd want to see if I could get on (as a substitute teacher) with Olympia (School District)," he said.
-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org