HIGHLINE COLLEGE |Fri, Nov 15, 2019

Highline professors aim for change in re-election

By Izzy Anderson - Staff Reporter

Two of Highline's own aim to hold onto their seats on the Federal Way Public School Board this voting season.

Highline professors Dr. Jennifer Jones and Luckisha Phillips both currently serve on the board, representing Districts 2 and 3, respectively.

Each is on the ballot in this election.

Dr. Jones teaches geography and diversity and globalism studies, and Phillips teaches education.

Phillips was first appointed in October 2018, and Dr. Jones was appointed last May.

The board consists of five members who are elected to 4-year terms by voters who reside in the school district.

The school board's job is mainly to watch over and coordinate areas of the school district, and to listen to community feedback, Dr. Jones said.

"We oversee and pass the budget, we monitor the super-intendent, hire the superintendent, and also ... are sort of the eyes and ears of the community," she said.

"It makes it a complicated job, there's so many things the school district is in charge of that the board has to think of," Dr. Jones said.

Many people don't know how much the school board is in charge of, so knowing who's in these positions is crucial, Phillips said.

"People need to understand the importance of the position," she said. '

Phillips is being challenged by community activist Tenya Magruder.

Dr. Jones is being opposed by Elizabeth Carlson.

Carlson is not actively campaigning for the seat.

Both professors had experience in education before joining the board.

"I've had 22 years of experience teaching at Highline," Dr.Jones said.

Phillips has worked as an educator and social worker for more than 20 years, and is a parent as well.

"I'm a parent ... and that makes you want to be involved," she said. "If I'm already [listening] in, I might as well have a seat at the table."

One thing that hits home for Phillips, is how children with special needs are taken care of in schools, she said.

"I have a son with special needs. It was not, and is not, an easy thing in the educational system," Phillips said.

The process for parents of special needs children, and for the children themselves, is often very difficult, she said.

"Parents shouldn't have to guess what the process is, I didn't know a lot of stuff until I was in the middle of it," Phillips said. "I had to ask a lot of co-workers and parents. They helped, the school did not."

This is something Phillips said she would like to help run smoother, if she's re-elected to the board.

"I want to make that process a little more transparent to parents," she said.

And having that experience in local education is a vital fac- tor for the school board, she said.

"For me, having a back- ground in education... and being invested in Federal Way doing well is important," Phillips said.

Inclusion and equity are also key factors in the educational system, she said.

"Equity and inclusion is so vital to have," Phillips said. "Considering we're one of the most diverse school districts ... it's important."

For Dr. Jones, inclusion also incorporates public services.

"I am a strong supporter of public education," she said. "Public education is one of the things that'll make the United States, or any other country, better."

But it shouldn't stop at public education, Dr. Jones said.

"It's the four P's: Public health, public transportation, public libraries, and public education," she said.

"You're giving everybody opportunity to learn, to get ready to leave, to be healthy, to be informed, you have to have those."

But most importantly to help make a change in the community and schools, people need to vote, Phillips said.

"It's important for people to be aware, pay attention, and get involved," she said. "So many people, typically younger people... don't realize they can register online."

Online voter registration is available at olvr.votewa.gov/.

"It's very easy to register to vote ... 16-and-17-year-olds can pre-register too," Dr. Jones said.

The last day to vote in the general elections is Nov. 5.

"Fewer and fewer people are voting," Dr. Jones said. "If you don't vote, you're letting someone who might know less than you, take that vote."

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