Four primary candidates for Peninsula School Board make their case to voters – Tacoma News Tribune


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Peninsula School Board of Directors, Position 2 In advance of the August 3 primary election, The Gateway asked four candidates for the Peninsula School District board of directors, Position 2, to explain why they are seeking the office (Two other candidates, incumbent David Olson and his challenger, Juanita Beard, are running for another position on the board, but they will advance directly to the general election. Their statements will appear in The Gateway in September.) The following candidate statements have not been edited or vetted by The Gateway, and readers should be aware that claims made by candidates have not been independently verified. They appear in alphabetical order. Linda Ader I’m a native Washingtonian with long standing ties to Gig Harbor. I have a B.A. in Environmental Studies and I’ve spent 30 years as a corporate Environmental Science Consultant in this STEM industry. I led teams of professionals in addressing contaminated sites. Success involved diplomatically achieving buy-in from State, Federal, Tribal, and municipal entities on project goals while completing work on-budget and on-schedule. These skills are applicable to serving as a School Board Director. I decided to run for office in part due to SB 5044. This legislation is meant to address “… equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in the public school system…”. I disagree with the Critical Race Theory (CRT)-concept that institutional racism exists throughout our schools. CRT-concepts teach kids to divide themselves based on their race and then view themselves either as perpetrators of wrongs they didn’t commit, or as victims of wrongs they haven’t experienced. There’s nothing unifying or empowering in this ideology. Although the term CRT is not currently used within the PSD curriculum, these concepts were being promoted on the district’s website as recently as July 14.. See a pdf of the heavily CRT-laden resources and books that were offered by the district at (content removed from District’s webpage). Further, the sensitive topic of sexuality is best left to parents. I agree with many in our community that much of the Comprehensive Sex Education content in SB 5395 (2019/2020) should not be part of our District’s curriculum. Instead, our district should focus on helping students recover academically and emotionally from the COVID-related impacts of last year. Also, expanding Career & Technical Education and Business Development options is important to ensure all students graduate ready for success in their chosen fields. Jennifer Butler I am running for school board because I am passionate about education and want to help make Peninsula School District one of the best in our state. More than ever, we need board directors who unify, listen, bring citizens together, find common ground and seek balanced solutions. I am a proven, positive leader and active volunteer in our schools. Further, I am a mother who cares deeply about the future of our most deserving constituents, our children, and their education. As students return full time in September, we need to focus on rebuilding relationships. Our district must increase resources to respond to a wide range of academic and emotional circumstances. Learning gaps have amplified during the pandemic, particularly for our youngest learners in their foundational years. For older students, increased counseling services and mentorships are needed, along with more flexible schedules that allow for internships and more Career and Technical Education courses. Clear, timely communication from teachers and the district is imperative. My professional background and skills will enhance board effectiveness. As a former Naval officer, I learned valuable lessons in teamwork and the impact of positive leadership. I am proud of my service and my country. We should teach factual history and learn from our past, while being inclusive and ensuring all students have access to opportunity. As an architect with a background in educational facilities, I respect that our new elementary schools are significant taxpayer investments. I bring expertise in construction budgets and maintenance cycles needed to protect these assets, and a commitment to increasing community access and engagement in our schools. This isn’t a one issue job and shouldn’t be a one issue campaign. Our district has always been good, now is our chance to make it great. Join me in making this vision a reality. Vote Jennifer Butler! Erik Johnson Our children will return to school full time in the fall. Will they be forced to wear masks like some dystopian culture? Will they be forced into curriculum that divides people by class, race and creed? I will tackle the second question. Many will tell you no, this is not what is, or will be, taught in our schools. This very paper has repeatedly stated there is no evidence and that these are talking points and fear mongering by radicals. I can tell you first-hand with evidence that this is already happening in our PSD schools. Take for example the book my ‘grade school’ child had in the curriculum last year. A is for Activist which is a Marxist book finishing with “Z is for Zapatista of course”. This caused an uproar in our community last fall and was subsequently removed. There was also the YouTube curriculum pushed onto our grade school in September 2020 called “Woke Kindergartner” complete with ‘Defund the Police’ rhetoric. A quick scan of the PSD 401 website today finds all the material from critical race theory presented under the learning tab and within the diversity equity and inclusion section thereof. It is complete with recommend books and videos about “Institutional Racism” and “White Fragility”. It isn’t coming; it is here. Neo-racist theories have no place in public education. If reimagining learning includes this type of activism and indoctrination, no thank you. A vote for me is a vote for the standards set by Dr. Martin Luther King. That all should be judged based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. David Weinberg COVID has impacted our children’s education and I see this with my child who’s in the PSD. Add to that all the political distractions and mask mandates, returning to pre-COVID standards becomes even more difficult. We don’t need to “re-imagine learning”, we need to focus on “regaining learning” after a year of closed schools. Remember the US is lagging behind many other countries. We must prepare our kids for what comes after graduation which is best accomplished with in person teaching of a standard curriculum without any distractions. Surveys show an overwhelming majority want traditional American values taught in schools so let’s teach kids how to think, not what to think. Many fear data will show remote classes were not effective as we hoped. Our new superintendent will need community input and support. The school board must quickly react to negative news concerning last school year’s learning outcomes and work with the community to affect solutions, not “re-imagine”. We know what works. We’re proud of our new schools but it’s the community whose generosity and hard earned tax dollars deserve thanks. New and upgraded schools were desperately needed but the focus must be inside the classrooms and we must continue efforts to improve broadband internet in the Key Peninsula in case the need for remote learning returns. Our schools can again be the shining light in our community, but we must keep our focus 100% on the recovery of learning as we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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