Ana Vasudeo campaigns for Berkeley school board

Vasudeo
Fulvio Cajina/Courtesy

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Ana Vasudeo — a local mother, first-generation graduate from Cornell University and strong advocate for closing the achievement gap — is running for the 2020 board of Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD.

Born and raised in the Bay Area to a Nicaraguan immigrant family, Vasudeo was inspired by her mother’s dedicated work as an early childhood educator to fight for fair compensation for teachers. Currently, Vasudeo is the district-level PTA vice president of equity and inclusion. She also advocates for secure and sustainable transportation as the senior transportation planner of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, where she works to make sure that more than 55,000 students get to school safely.

If elected, Vasudeo will continue progressive measures inspired by BUSD’s 2020 Vision initiative to close the achievement gap.

“I’m passionate about making sure we’re supporting our African American students, Latinx students and students with disabilities, and that we’re thinking beyond 2020 Vision,” Vasudeo said.

Vasudeo also worked with Walk Bike Berkeley to pass Vision Zero in the city, a policy to help eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries by 2028. She intends to facilitate collaboration between the school district and the city to make sure kids get to school safely and sustainably.

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Vasudeo recently brought forth equity training for PTA, in which every parent, teacher, staff member and school board member can participate, according to Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, director of the BUSD board.

Vasudeo emphasized her passion to make sure children can navigate streets safely without the fear of racism and police brutality. She is active in San Francisco working on restorative justice programs.

“I think Ana will work with the Superintendent and the School Board to lift ALL students and at the same time, look and ask who is missing from the budgets, programs and reports we receive as board members,” Leyva-Cutler said in an email.

Affordable transportation is also one of Vasudeo’s priorities, as the district recently announced a planned reduction of bus service by 80% in the fall. According to Vasudeo, a lot of students rely on buses to get to school.

Before announcing her campaign, Vasudeo reached out to BUSD’s teachers union, Berkeley Federation of Teachers, or BFT, to see what it feels needs improvement, according to BFT President Matt Meyer.

Vasudeo highly values understanding teacher perspectives, and that’s one of the reasons why Meyer endorsed her campaign.

According to Meyer, Vasudeo “walked the walk” immediately. She went door to door to advocate for measures E, G and H, all having to do with keeping teachers paid well and sustaining the district’s quality of education.

“This will not be an easy year to be on the Board with massive budget cuts and school sites still being closed,” Meyer said in an email. “We believe Ana will be a strong advocate for teachers and students in our district, even in these uncertain times.”

Contact Dina Katgara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dinakatgara.