Technology executive and local philanthropist Jose Luis Bedolla is running for a spot on the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, board in the November general election.
If elected to the board, Bedolla plans to implement a platform based on themes of rigor, equity and technology adoption that is “simple but difficult.”
Citing lowered educational standards, Bedolla said his goal is for BUSD schools to be competitive internationally, and he added that he would advocate for increased funding. He also said he believes racial and socioeconomic disparities remain in Berkeley public schools despite the city’s 2020 Vision initiative.
For Bedolla, one glaring example of inequities in school lies in access to technology, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We happen to live in Silicon Valley, but at the same time we have kids who don’t have computers,” Bedolla said.
Bedolla added that the school district should explore public-private partnerships — an example of which, according to Bedolla, is Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s $10 million donation to an initiative to close the digital divide in Oakland schools.
Additionally, Bedolla noted that while BUSD has done a good job of distributing technology such as Chromebooks, many students still lack consistent access to Wi-Fi.
“We can’t leave behind a whole generation of folks who don’t have the money or the means to connect,” Bedolla said.
Bedolla, who studied political economics at UC Berkeley before receiving a Master of Business Administration in strategy and marketing from Georgetown University, has worked in technology and is currently the CEO of the Data for Social Good Foundation.
Bedolla is also the parent of three children who either attend or have graduated from Berkeley public schools.
“I’ve seen a lot of the positives of the school system, from pre-K to primary school to middle school and of course secondary or high school,” Bedolla said. “Though I’ve seen all the good parts of it, I think there are some things that still need to be fixed.”
In addition to his experiences as a parent, Bedolla is interested in running for the BUSD board because he credits education for his own personal and professional success.
In 2017, Bedolla and his wife Lisa García Bedolla, campus vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the graduate division, endowed the Miguel and Elvira Bedolla Scholarship to support undocumented students at UC Berkeley.
“It’s not only talking about how education is important, but I’m actually walking the walk and putting my money and inviting my friends to give back to this area,” Bedolla said.