Meet the Edmonds School District Board of Directors candidates: Nicholas Jenkins, Position 5

Nicholas Jenkins

The Aug. 1 primary election includes three people running for Edmonds School District Board of Directors Position 5. To help voters learn more about the candidates, the My Neighborhood News Network sent a questionnaire to each candidate campaigning for a board seat.

We will post these as we receive them.

Note that while each school board position represents a specific geographic area, all voters living in the district vote for all positions.

Nicholas Jenkins is a civil litigator who lives in Edmonds. His opponents for the District 5 position are Arjun Kathuria and incumbent Nancy Katims. The top two candidates will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.

Q: Why are you running to be an Edmonds School Board Director? What do you hope to accomplish during your time as a board director?

– Conquering the funding problem by increasing the amount of the state budget devoted to education, which – by restoring excellence in education – will in turn decrease the amount the state is spending on social or human services and make still more funds available for education. At present we have a vicious cycle with declining student performance in literacy and math leading to unemployment and social problems, which in turn decreases the funds available for education. See page five of the state budget showing public school expenditures relative to other line items. The decline in English, math and science skills will correlate to higher unemployment and an increasing human services budget, and a growing human services budget will be a continuing and larger constraint on the public school budget and attracting and retaining talented teachers.

– Holding local legislators’ feet to the fire to increase the state budget amount spent on education to attract talented teachers who know how to engage and activate students in the pursuit of academic excellence.

– Developing consensus toward the goal of excellence in a classical education in English and math, science and history, foreign language and music. No reasonable person can disagree that this is the public school’s mission.

Q: What experience would you bring as a board director and how is it relevant to the position?

I am a 20-year civil defense litigator who has defended many teachers in various lawsuits and who understands teachers’ obstacles. My training is the review and synthesis of large amounts of information to boil it down and make recommendations to the client team on budgeting and the plan for resolution. Here, taxpayers are the client team, and the objective is to restore excellence in education.

Q: How would you work with district staff to encourage and promote fairness and equality for all of the district’s students?

Legislating people to be kind is unworkable. Decency and the desire for ethical conduct needs to come from the heart. Thus, we must lead by example and encourage others in the essential principle animating many of our laws, which is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” referred to in litigation and elsewhere as the Golden Rule.

Q: As the district faces a $15 million budget deficit in the 2023-24 school year, how will you work to mitigate cuts to music, social support and special education programs?

See above discussion regarding conquering the funding problem. There is no plausible justification for any cuts in funding for English and math, science and history, foreign language or music. History shows such education is the best social support. Tax revenue is more than sufficient to develop strong literacy and mathematical skills in children.

Q: How will you work to prioritize students’ mental health?

Students with mental health issues need to be referred to trained professionals with treatment funded by the individual, State or private insurers outside the education setting. Teachers are not social workers or experts in mental health and are not trained as such, and they need to be free to develop strong academic skills in children. Prioritizing a student’s mental health is to make sure they have access to mental health providers as necessary.

Q: What ideas do you have for improving the district’s high school graduation rates?

See above, i.e., providing competitive entry-level salaries to attract talented teachers who know how to engage and activate students in the pursuit of academic excellence.

Q: According to a recent review, the district’s special education faculty and staff have cited a lack of communication at a district level as a main concern. As a board director, how will you work to close this communication gap and support faculty and staff?

As noted above, I have defended school districts in special education cases. In each case, the teachers cared about their students and had been diligent with them, but there was a disconnect in the complex reporting and record keeping required by the federal government. In sum, special education teachers need specific paperwork support by district administrators so teachers can focus on teaching and maximize classroom time.

Q: What ideas do you have for addressing the hundreds of homeless students in the Edmonds School District?

See above, i.e., declining student performance in literacy and math leads to unemployment and social problems. The pattern is common: The state creates the problem, observes the problem and then needs money to solve the problem, all at taxpayers’ expense. The logical short-term response is to provide dorm facilities adjacent to the homeless student’s school, similar to the border concept in British education. Boarders are pupils who live at the school. Day pupils live with their families and return home at the end of the school day.

Q: Where can readers go to learn more about your campaign? (website and other contact information if applicable)

Email for additional information on how to get back to basics and restore excellence in our children’s English and math proficiency.

— By Cody Sexton

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