School board candidates encourage technical education

WSU employee hopes to increase job skills in grade schools


ABBY LINNENKOHL | The Daily Evergreen

Nathan Roberts, a candidate for the District 4 Pullman School Board, describes his reasons for deciding to run for the position.

LINH NGUYEN, Evergreen reporter

The candidates for the director of Pullman School District position hope to provide more opportunities for students to pursue post-graduate options outside of a four-year university.

Candidate Nathan Roberts, who works in data analysis and manages WSU’s research agendas at the Carson College of Business Dean’s Office, said he plans to help students understand they have options outside of formal higher education, such as technical colleges.

“I’d really like to see the district have more emphasis placed on giving high school graduates options” Roberts said. “Giving them a marketable skill that they can go use immediately, to get a job in, you know, life.”

Roberts said he wants to see more options for technical training during high school in areas such as woodshop and coding, to develop employable skills.

“We’re kind of in a college,” he said. “So everybody around here goes to college, but there’s a lot of high school students who don’t.”

Roberts also wants to advertise more of these unconventional jobs, he said, as the lack of awareness on the broader range of options does a disservice to certain career choices.

Incumbent candidate Karl Johanson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to his campaign website, Johanson has worked as a teacher, principal, special needs director and superintendent and has worked for the Pullman School District for 19 years. On his website, he also stated that he supports more technical schools and education.

Roberts previously worked as an adjunct professor for WSU, then moved to an engineering company in Pullman called Digilent and worked at Decagon Devices for five years in the marketing department before returning to WSU to work in the Dean’s Office.

This would be Roberts’ first time running for political office. He said he isn’t originally from the area, so he isn’t familiar with the system, but hopes to learn more if elected.

“I don’t really know much about the Pullman School system, as far as my familiarity with how everything works,” Roberts said. “So I thought it would be a really good way to learn the district and the system.”

Roberts has lived in Pullman for the past 11 years and has two children, who are 3 and 5. Roberts said he wants to be more involved in the school district for when his children eventually start their education.

After talking to many parents and teacher groups in Pullman, Roberts said he has also noticed many issues with communication in the school system. Specifically, he said, how the superintendent handles communication between faculty and staff with parents.

Being a supporter of technological resources, Roberts said he hopes the school board will create more of a social media presence for themselves.

“Right now, to communicate to the school board, you have to state your name and address the school board,”

Roberts said. “I want to see more broad roles for communicating, by having meaningful discussion [through] Twitter and Facebook instead.”