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In Our View: Jain for Evergreen school board’s Dist. 4 seat

The Columbian
Published: October 10, 2019, 6:03am

One way to view elections is to look at them as a job-hiring. You consider the resume and the experience and you interview the candidates, and then you choose the one who best fulfills the specific job requirements. After undertaking that process, The Columbian Editorial Board recommends Divya Jain for Evergreen school board member from District 4.

As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to foster discussion. The Columbian trusts that voters in the Evergreen district will examine the candidates and the issues before making an informed decision.

In this race, voters will find two candidates capable of being an effective board member. Rachael Rogers is the incumbent, having been appointed to the board in February, and a strong argument can be made that she warrants a full term. Jain’s resume, however, gives her an edge in this election.

According to her website and information provided to the Voters’ Pamphlet, Jain spent years as a volunteer in Evergreen schools, was co-chair of the Book Fair at Illahee Elementary for six years, kick-started the Geography Passport Club at Illahee and filed a copyright request that allowed the program to be used throughout the district, and started a Science and Art Fair at the elementary school. Jain, whose professional experience is as a business analyst and project manager for the Bonneville Power Administration, has demonstrated the kind of engagement that serves as fertile training ground for a school board member.

Most notably, Jain was inspired to action by her daughter’s experience as a student of Indian descent. That led to the Geography Passport Club, which provides an optional program for students to learn about different nations and cultures. “I truly believe in inclusivity training on microaggressions and implicit bias,” Jain told the editorial board.

About 44 percent of students in the Evergreen district identify as students of color, indicating the importance of inclusiveness in the curriculum — and on the school board. Meanwhile, about 51 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches, indicating the widespread economic disparity in the district.

The point is not that Jain should be elected because she represents minorities. The point is that she has seen shortcomings in the district and has been proactive in addressing them — an ability she attributes to her professional experience as an analyst. “Due to my collaborative nature,” she said, “I was able to analyze the gaps.”

Rogers, who works as a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for Clark County and has two children in Evergreen schools, was inspired to seek appointment to the board by last year’s contentious teachers strike. She also stresses the need for collaboration throughout the district and advocates for resources that better connect families with schools. “I’m committed to responsible decision making and inclusive, collaborative decision making,” she said. “I think it’s really important to have community input.”

Rogers criticizes what she viewed as a lack of communication during last year’s teachers strike and emphasizes that she can bring a legal perspective to the discussion. She seeks to improve communication between district officials and community members, and notes that in the past she implemented implicit bias training in her office.

Students, teachers, administrators, parents and the public would be well-served by either candidate in this race. But because of her long-standing activism in the district, The Columbian recommends Divya Jain for District 4 on the Evergreen school board.

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