This November 3, Michael Chang is undoubtedly the best candidate to vote for Berkeley School Board. Although most Berkeley High School (BHS) students can’t vote yet, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of local elections. Local races, such as those for school board, are often ignored by adults, which means that youth engagement is more important than ever.
Out of the six possible candidates, I truly think Chang is the best fit for our current time. Firstly, he has by far the best website of all of the candidates, with a friendly interface and a well-meaning, albeit slightly cringy introduction video. It becomes clear when talking to him that Chang is a highly qualified individual. He has a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in Ethnic Studies, practiced law as an assistant executive general in Illinois, and is an attorney at the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. He is also commissioner with Berkeley’s Police Review commission, and is a lecturer in Ethnic and Legal Studies at Cal. And of course, he uses fantastically complex and wordy sentences that lead me to believe he must be quite intelligent.
Perhaps his most important qualification is that he has two children who are currently in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) school system, one at BHS and one in middle school. He also has a third child who graduated from BHS in the class of 2020. This gives him first-hand experience, not only in knowing what students need to thrive, but also how parents deal with multiple children having distance learning each day.
Chang is a smart, competent, hard-working person, and he is exactly what we need in our school board right now. We don’t need crazy ideas or wacky personalities, we need solid leadership. One major trait I gathered from speaking with him was how solid he is. He knows what he wants to change, and he knows how to change it. Specifically, he put a lot of emphasis implementing restorative rather than punitive justice in our schools.
Chang has been endorsed by Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Vice Mayor and Councilmember Sophie Hahn, and both the current School Board President, Judy Appel, and Board Director, Beatriz Levya-Cutler. If you are over the age of 18, I implore you to vote for Chang in the election this November 3, and if you are younger, use your wiles to convince your parents to do so.