Tenya Magruder

Tenya Magruder

Tenya Magruder: School Board District 3 candidate

‘The school district … is a three out of 10 on average, while we have some schools that are as low as one for academics and performance.’

Update: The Mirror has re-uploaded the candidate’s video interview due to a technological glitch with a previous version.

Tenya Magruder, who is vying for the Federal Way Public Schools Board District 3 position against incumbent Luckisha Phillips, recently sat down with the Mirror to answer the following questions:

What motivates you to run for this position?

The school district right now, according to greatschools.org, is a three out of 10 on average, while we have some schools that are as low as one for academics and performance.

What particular skills or experiences would you bring to this school board position?

“I’ve worked with physically disabled, learning disabled and mentally disabled children in the past and I seem to have a knack for being able to get them to perform — even beyond what has historically been their ability or willingness.”

In what ways have you been involved in service to the community?

“I really haven’t had the time to,” Magruder said. “I struggled with getting myself organized. I was a single parent, and so I had difficulty getting my kids on track, and because of the fact that I didn’t have my legs under me academically, it took me time to get my footing, financially even, in order to be able to give anything back to the community at this point.”

But now she would like to get more involved with the community by serving on the school board and helping students to reach their maximum capacity.

“That’s what I’d really like to see because I think that what’s going on right now is shortchanging our children. I see it as an untapped resource and probably our greatest untapped resource in the area.”

Describe your top three objectives if you are elected to the school board and how you will address those issues.

“I’d like to make the parents aware of the low ratings, and the low college readiness, and the low percentages of math and reading … and get parents on board for helping out with their children, or at least being receptive with the school helping their children, to get on track so that they have their best opportunity for a successful future, financially and otherwise.”

What are two strengths of which our district can be proud of and why?

I would say the diversity of it because that’s something.”

She said diversity doesn’t always come readily.

“Diversity is very hard — it’s hard to get people to come together. And the more differences that there are between people, and especially visual differences, I think the harder it is to get people on board on coming together as a community.”

As a board member, how would you ensure that the district provides a quality education for the most diverse student population in Washington state?

She has lived in the area her entire life and went to school in Renton. The area has some of the greatest employers in the region, and she doesn’t understand why the district doesn’t have a straight pipeline from the schools to these employers.

“We’ve got Boeing, we’ve got Microsoft, we’ve got Amazon in the area and I don’t understand why it is that we aren’t picking from the school graduates and local college graduates at times and bringing people from outside of the area.”

What kind of sex education do you favor for students in this district? Please explain.

“I’d like to keep that as basic as possible. I think that there’s a lot of things that some parents don’t want their children to know and they’d prefer that they not be exposed to it. I think that that’s a matter of choice and I think that basic sex education is OK, but beyond that I think that the parents should decide whether or not they want their children to know and when to know because some kids are not as ready as others.”

She said children’s maturity levels are different.

“Some of them just aren’t prepared to hear or know or understand what you’re talking about and I think that the parents have the best knowledge as to what their kid is ready for.”

What other steps beyond the existing policies should the school district take to protect students from gun violence?

“Well I hate to say it, but it seems like at this point in time that it may be a good idea to have law enforcement present on campus. I think that would benefit the students for feeling safe. I think that it would make the parents feel like their children were safe on campus and I think that the teachers might feel it was safer.”

She noted that attendance in schools is down, at 77.1% on average, and she wants to explore why this is the case.

“Is it because they don’t feel safe when they’re at school and so they are feigning ill and don’t want to participate, or is it other things that are driving the lower attendance?”

How should the school board go about finding out and knowing what the parents and community in the district are thinking?

She said she would do what she’s already doing now — ask people what they are thinking when she’s out in the community.

“This is what I’ve done and I’ve found a lot of different answers … maybe even that the school doesn’t have,” she said. “For one thing, right now we have an outflux of people. This is what I’m being told and it’s because the academics are so low in this school district. Everybody wants the best opportunity for their kids and if you’re not getting it in the school district then the easiest way to cope with that is to pick up and move and this is what’s happening and this is what I’m being told when I ask parents.”

What are your financial priorities for the school district?

Magruder wants to find out where there is fiscal waste and reappropriate money.

She said she would like to see the Career and Technical Education trade schools expanded, “and for everybody to have an opportunity because as it sits right now, only two of the schools have access to the CTE and I think that every kid should have that opportunity.”

Some parents face certain barriers, such as transporting their children to a CTE school, which makes it difficult for all students to attend a trade school.

“It’s not an easy thing, so that would afford opportunities to some children and not others and if we’re going to be equal and have equity, then everybody deserves to have the same opportunity for the brightest future that they can gain for themselves.”

If you could ask your challenger for this position one question, what would that be and why?

“I would like to know what her proposal is to help children that have disabilities that aren’t being addressed because that’s something that’s very important to myself,” she said. “I have two children that were in the Federal Way School District that had difficulties and I was the one that found the problems. I’d like to know what answers she has as far as how to get to the bottom of it …”

She said children’s learning challenges should be addressed as early as possible “because statistically when they aren’t, the chances of them being successful are very limited.”

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