School board candidates call for change in Berkeley schools


Norma Harrison is arguing for non-traditional school structures. Specifically, she is against separating kids by age or subject matter. She feels the current Berkeley Unified School District system is too focused on helping corporations. “This system is a babysitting service so parents, friends, family can go to their effective cubicles to make profit for owners,” Harrison said.

Reichi Lee is an attorney with two kids attending BUSD schools. She values listening to students, and shared how she wants to conduct Berkeley High School office hours with open dialogue. Endorsed by the BHS Stop Harassing club, she shared, “Safety is a top priority for me. … If I get elected, it’s going to be a top funding priority.” Specifically, she wants to fully fund new tools for students such as trauma informed emergency plans, crisis intervention programs and door lock upgrades. 

Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos works as a co-director in the academic support program Classroom Matters. She has kids in public schools and touched on how her inspiration to run is from them and their peers. Guerreiro Ramos said, “I’ve seen so many students who have been failed by the system, including my own children. I want to try and change things from the inside.” She plans to create a BHS committee to evaluate teachers and enact the law allowing 16+ year olds to vote in school board elections. 

Mike Chang, a professor at the University of California,  Berkeley, has three children who have attended BUSD schools. Chang said public schools are critical to Berkeley’s health. He is focused on school safety, Title IX issues, and supplying interpreters and translators for Latinx students at BHS. He plans to help students’ mental health by creating “some long lasting wellness centers across each of the schools, where students can access a counselor or be directed towards other wraparound services.” 

Jennifer Shanoski, a single mom of two BUSD kids, teaches chemistry at a local college. Shanoski is a strong believer in community and feels that she should join the school board to give back to the district and improve Berkeley public schools. She wants to collaborate with students to understand the issues from their perspective and face them unitedly. Regarding BHS safety, Shanoski said, “It’s really important that we stop looking at Berkeley as an isolated island and start collaborating.” 

Ka’Dijah Brown, current school board president, is running for re-election. She is a sixth grade public school teacher who attended Washington Elementary School, Longfellow Middle School, and BHS. On the school board, Brown has worked to diversify staff and find affordable housing options for teachers and faculty. To students, she said, “Your voice is incredibly powerful. Your voice will change the world. So please use your voice in Berkeley.” Brown encourages students to get active.