Reichi Lee, most recently a director of academic achievement and associate dean for online education at Golden Gate University Law, is running for the Berkeley school district’s board.
Previously a foster youth attorney, Lee said she has the desire to serve young people and ensure school is a place where education can be a tool for social justice.
“I really believe that Berkeley should be a place where we have enviable student success,” she said. “We are sharing the city with one of the best public universities in the world, so we really should not be a place where more than a third of all of our Berkeley Unified School District students have not met English and math standards.”
Lee said that if elected, she hopes to improve academic outcomes by strengthening the implementation of two prior School Board resolutions: the African American Success Framework and the Latinx Resolution. Both seek to address the achievement gap among Black and Brown students given that 50% of Latine and 76% of Black students are not meeting the eligibility requirements for a UC school or a school in the CSU system.
Lee added that she would work to proactively support student mental health.
“We need to be supporting our students around their mental health, not just when a problem comes up,” Lee said. “We also want to make sure that it’s holistic care so that students learn how to communicate about their mental health, seek help when they need it and have tools that they can use when they’re having a hard time.”
She also noted she would like to collaborate with UC Berkeley and allow campus students studying education to work alongside BUSD teachers until they have the credentials to work for the district.
Lee plans to achieve her numerous goals, including strengthening the organization and its transparency, by working collaboratively.
“When a majority out of the five school board directors want the same things and agree that these things are important, then we’re going to be able to ensure that those things are a priority,” she said.
Lee has received endorsements from Board President Ka’Dijah Brown, Vice President Laura Babitt and five Berkeley City Council members, along with endorsements from local organizations.
The most important endorsement, however, is from the young people, Lee said, namely Berkeley High Stop Harassing, East Bay Young Democrats and Latine Young Democrats of the East Bay.
If elected, Lee added that she would encourage students to take a class on local government and intern with a city council member simultaneously and conduct regular office hours at Berkeley High School.
Her attention to students is also why Lee believes she is the most qualified candidate.
“I believe deeply in student voices and will work really hard to make sure that we not only hear from them, but we bring them outstanding opportunities,” Lee said.