Korea Times: Vote on August 29 for Your Child’s Education

Opinion Column, Angie Sohn

Angie Sohn is a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and a NAKASEC volunteer in the Annandale, VA office.

The Fairfax County School Board special election will take place on August 29, 2017 to select a new board member. The selected board member will go on to influence changes that will impact our schools in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). As a Korean American high school student in Fairfax County, I urge anyone who is able to vote, including parents and older students, to go out and vote in this election. We as a Korean American community must make an effort to cast our votes and let our voices be heard.

Fairfax County residents must pay attention to this election. School board members make decisions on issues that are important to families with children in the school system. As a student in FCPS, issues that affect my school experience include school meals, classroom sizes, maintaining a safe and accepting school environment, teacher quality, and more. Each of the four candidates running for board member have their own ideas and opinions on these various issues.

Education is often a central part of the immigrant family experience. I remember my family moved to Fairfax County in 2010 so my brother and I could receive a top-notch education. We were still in elementary school at that time. I clearly remember being so surprised at not only the wonderful teachers I had, but the diverse faces in my classroom. I had never been surrounded by so much diversity before, and I quickly learned to appreciate learning beside my peers who came from many different backgrounds and cultures.

As I went through elementary school, then middle school, up to where I am today, I have never lost that sense of pride in being a part of our school system’s immense diversity and inclusiveness. Now my brother has graduated and I have two years left until I graduate as well. Although I do not have as much time left in the public school system, I think about the younger students who still have so much ahead of them, and I hope that they too will grow up in the same diverse and accepting environment that I grew up in. Learning in a diverse environment has broadened my perspective and allowed me to collaborate with, befriend, and respect other students of different walks of life. It’s also instilled in me a greater understanding of the impact an education can have in shaping a student’s life, regardless of background.

I believe that the new elected school board member must ensure that students of all backgrounds feel safe on school grounds. This includes LGBTQ, religious minorities, students of color, undocumented students, and more. The new school board member should also make an effort to hire diverse teaching and support staff, and enforce policies of nondiscrimination. Every student, regardless of background, should be able to receive an education in a safe and inclusive learning environment. I urge everyone with the capability to vote, to vote on August 29 and to have a voice in deciding the education of our diverse youth.