UC Berkeley lecturer, lawyer, parent Michael Chang runs for Berkeley school board

Michael Chang
Michael Chang/Courtesy
Michael Chang, a local parent and an active community member, is running for the Berkeley school board.

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Michael Chang, a lawyer, UC Berkeley lecturer and local parent, is running for the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, board.

Chang said he was inspired to run for the BUSD board in part because he is a parent to three children in the district and has been heavily involved in the PTA and other activities. He also wants to offer his legal expertise as an education lawyer to assist BUSD in current and long-term issues, such as combating racial disparities in discipline and achievement and creating procedures and policies that support a restorative justice framework. Chang added that he also believes it is important to have an Asian American voice on the school board.

“I believe in the Berkeley progressive tradition of equitable community where education is central to city planning,” Chang said in an email.

Chang is an attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and a lecturer at UC Berkeley in the departments of ethnic studies and legal studies. He also serves on the city’s Police Review Commission and on its Use of Force Policy Subcommittee.

Among Chang’s priorities are equity in education, professional wages for Berkeley teachers and staff and allyship through a restorative justice lens.

“(I support) equity that is grounded in policies and procedures that address systemic inequities and disparities on the basis of race,” Chang said.

Chang also said equity should be based on a restorative justice system. This would involve the help of an administrator, possibly the assistant superintendent, to gather and monitor data on racial disparities, sexual harassment and, more generally, climate issues in BUSD.

In the classroom, Chang said, restorative justice might include exhausting other forms of intervention before suspension and, if needed, sending students to a counseling center when they are disruptive in class.

Chang also believes that Berkeley teachers and staff should be able to live in Berkeley and that affordable housing is critical in recruiting and maintaining teachers.

He believes the city should create a trust through which homes are purchased to sell to teachers and classified staff on a subsidized mortgage basis, and in some cases, the city would pay the down payment on the home

Chang also emphasized the importance of ethnic studies, saying that it will help students to develop the vocabulary and understanding to engage in meaningful debate.

“I will bring clarity to what Ethnic Studies represents to the School Board and be there to help BUSD navigate its continuing implementation of this important pedagogical field with sensitivity and empathy to all of our shared histories,” Chang said in an email.

Chang said his daughter, a recent Berkeley High School graduate, is also part of his campaign and is helping with youth outreach.

He is also planning to launch his website in the next few days, which will include a biography, more information about endorsements and links to donate and volunteer.

Contact Mela Seyoum at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.