Rina Redrup, one of four candidates seeking to fill position 5 on Edmonds School District Board, officially kicked off her campaign Monday evening in front of a group of supporters, friends and family at Edmonds’ City Park. Position 5 is currently held by Diana White, who is not seeking re-election. Redrup is facing off against Casey Auve, Lisa Hunnewell, and Nancy Katims.
While each school board director position represents a specific district, they are elected by all voters. The two top vote-getters in the upcoming Aug. 6 primary will advance to the November general election.
Redrup was introduced by friend Nicole Sargent, who praised the candidate’s passion for equity and diversity. The two served together on the Meadowdale High School parent resource group when their children were in school.
“The biggest issue facing the Edmonds School District right now is funding, specifically that teachers and programs are facing cuts,” Redrup began, referring to the cost-cutting proposals resulting in teacher layoffs and various programmatic cuts. “We need to prioritize our resources to retain teachers and programs. I am for reinstating our teachers immediately and providing guarantees that this won’t happen again. I want our teachers to stay here and not feel concern or worry about their jobs. I am hopeful these issues can be resolved by August so we can move on to other important issues.”
High on Redrup’s list of other issues is addressing curriculum inclusion and diversity.
“I believe that the current curriculum for history, literature and sex education lack the perspective of diverse groups and identities,” she explains. “As a school board member, I would advocate for a more comprehensive program of study so that marginalized groups see themselves reflected in what they are taught. Too often we get a one-sided view of the world when we come to school, and when kids don’t see themselves reflected in what they’re taught they feel disenfranchised and not part of the world they’re going into.”
As one way to move ahead with this, Redrup advocates a fresh look at standardized testing. She feels the current approach to standardized testing leaves too many kids out.
“Not everyone is going to college,” she explains. “Today’s standardized tests leave too many children out, especially those with learning or language skill issues. Having to take a test at which you can’t be successful is detrimental to self-esteem. Everyone comes into the world with different strengths, interests and natural abilities. Our current system of standardized testing begins too early, squashes the love of learning and creates people who are learning skills, but not learning to think, not learning to believe in themselves.
“We need to give each student the time and opportunity to learn and develop naturally and at their own pace,” she continued. “We need to expand opportunities for students with a greater emphasis on vocational training that provides a direct route to skilled occupations for those students not on a collegiate route. We need counselors and student mentors who understand and embrace this.”
As an example, she cited her own experience as a kindergarten teacher with a student who had no interest learning to read and recognize words, but instead wanted to spend all his time in the block area. Rather than drag him away from what he loved, Redrup encouraged him to build increasingly detailed structures with blocks.
“Then one day he came to me and said he wanted to learn about building bridges,” she said. “So I got him a book about bridges. He devoured it, and in the process started picking up reading. It may have taken him longer than some students, but by building on his interest and passion he developed a love of reading.”
Another issue for Redrup is a stronger focus on school and personal safety.
“It is important for school safety to provide the necessary support and resources to not let anyone fall through the cracks,” she explained. “To help with this, we need people in the school such as teachers and paraeducators. These need to be people who can connect with the students and be mentors to them, models for what they want to do with their lives.
“When something’s bothering you, it means you’ll have someone other than a parent to talk to, someone you can connect with, a safety net,” she added. “As a teacher and a nurse, I recognize the importance of supporting the mental health of our students.”
In conclusion, Redrup cited the many parents and stakeholders caught unaware by the recent school board decision to go with an outside contractor for before- and after-school care, as an example of the need for open lines of communication with all stakeholders early in the decision-making process.
“We need to hear all opinions and views of all stakeholders before decisions are made,” she stressed. “That means also allowing adequate time to incorporate these into recommendations and hear all concerns.”
Learn more about Rina Redrup at her campaign website rinaredrup4kids.com.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel