As votes continue to trickle in, the race for Berkeley Unified School District Board remains too close to call. Six candidates are vying for three open spots on the board.
According to the official election site of Alameda County, current board president Ka’Dijah Brown leads with 27.52% of the vote as of press time. Meanwhile, Jennifer Shanoski captured 21.9% of the vote with Mike Chang and Reichi Lee close behind at 21.73% and 21.16%, respectively. Trailing are Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos with 6.25% and Norma J F Harrison with 1.42%. Brown, Shanoski, Lee and Guerreiro Ramos have not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
As the youngest member and first teacher elected to the Board, Brown ran for a second term following encouragement from students, teachers and families.
If elected, Brown aims to equitably support underserved students, provide socioemotional student support and create a safer, more welcoming school district.
“This is my labor of love … my heart’s work,” Brown previously told The Daily Californian. “All of the things I want to accomplish and continue to see through are going to take more than one term.”
Shanoski is a chemistry professor at Merritt College and president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers.
If elected, Shanoski said she is looking to close the achievement gap, improve science education and bolster recruitment and retention of teachers and staff.
“I have a track record of working hard for working families and a commitment to always do what I think will be in the best interest of the community,” Shanoski previously told The Daily Californian. “I promise to bring that commitment and that energy that works to the school board to keep our school strong.”
Third in the running, Chang is an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and longtime UC Berkeley lecturer. He is also a parent to three former BUSD students.
If elected, Chang said that right off the bat, he would engage with current Board members to allocate funding set aside for mental health services to wellness centers across the district and work to fully staff BUSD compliance offices so that the district can move forward in the implementation of the African American Achievement Initiative and Latinx Resolution.
“Berkeley is an exemplifier for the rest of the country,” Chang previously told The Daily Californian. “We should look forward and continue to provide the best example. That starts with supporting our teachers and ensuring that they are treated as individuals — building consensus.”
Neck in neck with Chang is Lee, a former foster youth attorney and most recently a director of academic achievement and associate dean for online education at Golden Gate University Law.
If elected, Lee hopes to improve student outcomes by strengthening support for Black and Latine students, promote holistic approaches to mental health and facilitate teaching opportunities for UC Berkeley students.
“I really believe that Berkeley should be a place where we have enviable student success,” Lee previously told The Daily Californian. “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.”
The next candidate, Guerreiro Ramos, is a BUSD parent, former teacher and co-director of a Berkeley-based tutoring company, Classroom Matters.
Guerreiro Ramos is looking to promote transparency, equity and individual support for students and families, with a focus on historically underrepresented students.
“The special education process needs to be more transparent, less onerous, and more welcoming. We are failing too many students and families need to know we support them,” Guerreiro Ramos previously told The Daily Californian. “Black and brown students are also at the top of my priority list, as they have been hugely ignored for the last decade.”
In her seventh run for the Board, Harrison said that school should not be taught in the classroom but through real-world work.
She added that she does not see the election as a sufficient resource for people to gather and control their lives together.
“I marvel that this is about the seventh time I’m doing this,” Harrison said. “I marvel at the immense amount of background that each of the candidates brings and the tremendous talent they have for perpetuating the status quo.”