What I will advocate for on the Board
Education is Community; Re-fund it
Education is community and must be central to city planning. I will work closely with the Mayor and City Council to ensure that city planning is deeply intertwined with Berkeley’s educational needs. The needs of the City are also the needs of our school district. Berkeley’s future depends on an equitable, accessible and world class public education.
- Long-term state and federal funding is crucial to these goals, and I will fight for this. I will also work to implement more short-term solutions. For example, the City should redirect as much as possible of the 50% reducation in Berkeley Police Department spending towards educational services such as counseling, before and after school care, family engagement, and emergency supports for families in need.
- It is important to note that the above services are often provided by our classified staff, many of whom are now being asked to be on the front lines. They have traditionally been undervalued and underpaid, and this injustice must be addressed.
Professional Berkeley Wages and Housing for Berkeley Teachers and Classified Staff
Berkeley teachers and classified staff must be treated as the professionals they are, with professional scale salaries and benefits.
- I believe that Berkeley teachers and classified staff should be able to be Berkeley residents whenever possible. Affordable housing in Berkeley for teachers and classified staff is critical for retaining a great BUSD workforce, and particularly for hiring teachers of color. As housing costs in Berkeley have skyrocketed, my children have had excellent teachers leave their positions because they could no longer afford to live here.
- In addition to redirecting as much as possible of the 50% savings on Berkeley Police Department spending towards educational services, City Council should work with the School Board to set aside funds to secure property across Berkeley for teachers to own in a housing trust.
- Just as in the post-secondary market where universities subsidize low interest mortgages and home purchase deposits, the City Council should work with BUSD to create a trust of homes for teachers and classified employees to purchase. When the teachers and classified employees wish to sell the property, it must be prioritized for another BUSD teacher or classified employee or sold back to the trust.
Equity and Allyship through a Restorative Justice Lens
We are 66 years past Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), but we are still grappling with systemic disparities associated with segregation in our schools. I believe that quality education depends on access for all, without achievement and opportunity gaps. So, how do we begin the process of halting the reproduction of inequality and providing quality education for all students?
- We must act to reduce race-based disparities in suspensions and expulsions by tying data-driven policies and procedures to a District-wide robust initiative for Restorative Justice. Currently, Black students in BUSD are 6.1 times more likely to be expelled than White students. This must change, and a Restorative Justice approach to harm would staff counselors trained in de-escalation and positive behavioral interventions, grounding education in a safe and nurturing environment for all students.
- These systemic procedures and practices will help all students. A Restorative Justice- based outlook will be designed to address the troubling sexual harassment concerns raised by students in the District and tailored to ensure that students with disabilities have a broad support system that aligns with IEP’s and Section 504 plans, in addition to supporting students of color.
- As a mentee of the original Berkeley-based Third World Liberation Front activists who created the Ethnic Studies program and movement, I believe stongly that an Ethnic Studies pedagogy that is grounded in the tenets of Free Speech, Due Process and anti-discrimination principles is critical to a modern progressive and equity based movement.
- I am a subject matter expert in this area and will work with BUSD to advocate for assigning an assistant superintendent to create District-wide Restorative Justice policies and work with school principals to implement these policies across the District. Further, I will ensure that the recruitment and retention of an effective Title IX coordinator is prioritized.