Here’s who you should vote for in the Berkeley Unified School District election

CITY AFFAIRS: In the upcoming November election, Berkeley voters will elect new directors to the Berkeley School Board. Here's our take.

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The Berkeley Unified School District board provides much-needed oversight of the city’s public school system. This election season, Berkeley voters have the opportunity to elect three diverse and insightful voices to the board — and those voices should be Julie Sinai, Ka’Dijah Brown and Ty Alper.

The Daily Californian’s editorial board sat down with each candidate — except for Dru Howard, who could not be reached for an interview — to discuss their campaign platforms. While Howard does seem to have some promising experience, without an interview, the Daily Cal editorial board was unable to assess the feasibility of her platforms to the same extent as the other candidates’. Two candidates, Norma Harrison and Abdur Sikder, lack the concrete experience the job requires and failed to offer actionable goals addressing the district’s biggest challenges.

Of all the candidates running for the board, Sinai, Brown and Alper are undoubtedly the most qualified. Here’s why.

 

Julie Sinai

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Julie Sinai has a thorough understanding of policymaking and a strong vision for Berkeley’s schools, and she would bring these valuable qualities to the school board.

After a sitting member on the school board resigned in 2013, Sinai was appointed to fill their spot, and she served in the position until 2014. Her past experience on the board makes her a strong candidate this election season.

Sinai has lots of experience serving Berkeley’s schools. As a policy adviser to former mayor Tom Bates for eight years, she helped create the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth — a project aimed at bridging the existing racial disparities in education outcomes in Berkeley.

Additionally, Sinai has promising goals for improving the school system, including strengthening the resources provided to students with special needs. And while these plans are ambitious, she has the experience and passion that make the Daily Cal editorial board confident that she will see them through.

Vote Julie Sinai for BUSD.

Ka’Dijah Brown

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If elected, Ka’Dijah Brown will bring a unique and much-needed perspective to the school board — she would be the only teacher on it.

A fifth-grade teacher in Richmond and a former student of Berkeley public schools, Brown has a personal understanding of how the board’s decisions impact the classroom. Although this would be her first elected position, Brown’s experiences and passion as an educator would immensely benefit the board.

In her interview with the Daily Cal editorial board, Brown emphasized her desire to diversify the school district. She said she would prioritize hiring people of color as teachers and school employees. She proposed increasing affordable housing for teachers and making their salaries more competitive in order to create a liveable and welcoming environment for low-income teachers of color. These are admirable goals — especially considering that only one-third of BUSD’s teachers are people of color, compared to more than 60 percent of the district’s students.

Vote Ka’Dijah Brown for BUSD.

 

Ty Alper

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In his four years on the school board, Ty Alper has done invaluable work addressing the racial achievement gap and working to prevent budget cuts from harming students and teachers. But there is still much more to be done, and in his interview with the Daily Cal editorial board, Alper committed to seeing these solutions through.

Alper identified one of his main goals as reducing disciplinary measures that are exclusionary, particularly those that aggravate racial disparity among the district’s students. And he has made significant strides to address this during his time on the board — he helped initiate major changes to the district’s expulsion policies and called this one of his proudest moments in his interview with the Daily Cal editorial board.

Alper’s heart and efforts are in the right place — he consistently acknowledged the district’s shortcomings and seems eager to continue working to resolve them.

Vote Ty Alper for BUSD.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.