Anita Damjanovic (left) and Cassandra Sage running for the director district three position on the Lake Washington School District Board of Directors. Courtesy photo

LWSD board candidates discuss charter schools, national anthem and evolution

  • Friday, November 3, 2017 11:50am
  • News

Following its candidate forum on Oct. 15, members of Indivisible Kirkland Kenmore followed up and reached out to the Anita Damjanovic and Cassandra Sage, who are running for Lake Washington School District board of directors Pos. 3.

IKK gave the two candidates a questionnaire for more information about where they stood regarding certain issues.

Here are their responses:

Do you support charter schools and voucher programs? Please explain.

Damjanovic: No. I believe LWSD is the prime example that we can provide choice AND retain local control of our schools.

There are several concerns I share with others when it comes to charter schools’ ability to provide an education to all our students. First of all, the law says charters should be accessible and open to all students, but data shows that doesn’t always happen. Lottery “winners” are asked to write 15-page papers or to take math tests without accommodations for special needs or ELL students. They don’t actively recruit students from the above-mentioned groups and have a significantly lower percentage of special needs students enrolled. They sometimes go as far as to inform parents that they shouldn’t enroll because the school isn’t able to provide special needs services due to its size. They are quick to expel students and have very inflexible discipline policies. They are often exempt from select state education laws because of “undue burden,” etc. The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights investigated the abuses enumerated above and issued a report back in 2000 because it found the behaviors so prevalent all across the United States, suggesting this is a systemic issue.

Note, while Washington charters are very new, we can expect to see some if not all of the same problems in our own charters here unless we make sure they are held accountable and bound by the SAME standards and regulations as our public schools.

Ultimately, LWSD’s 13 choice programs are evidence that charters are not needed and that local school districts are perfectly capable of providing quality choices that meet the needs of ALL their students as long as the state provides ample and equitable funding.

Sage: While charter schools are legal in Washington, LWSD does not have a need for them due to our incredible choice schools.

How would you handle students who want to take a knee during the national anthem at school sporting events?

Damjanovic: I support the students’ right to peacefully protest racial injustice. Additionally, coercing the students to stand or punishing them for not standing is illegal, as decided by the Supreme Court in Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette in 1943.

Sage: The Supreme Court mandated no student can be forced to say the pledge — which I say also covers the national anthem.

What are your beliefs about teaching evolution in school?

Damjanovic: Evolution is the theory accepted in the scientific circles as the explanation for how life came to be on our planet. It is the only theory that can be proven through fossils and genetics, and it is the only theory that has a wealth of physical evidence that supports its hypotheses. Thus, I believe it should most certainly be taught in our science classes.

Sage: Evolution should continue to be in our science curriculum because it is wrong for someone to take their personal religious view and push it on students.

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