A question I keep hearing on the campaign trail is "Why are you running?"
For me it comes down to one simple thing: I learned firsthand as a child how powerful good schools are in nurturing and supporting students.
My family was like a lot of families in Oakland; I spent a lot of time as a kid alone, and schools and libraries were havens for me as a good student. I found caring adults there who paid attention to me, and made me feel valued. Especially critical were some of the high school teachers I had, some of whom I am still in touch with. One, Anne Parris, was my high school American Literature teacher, and is now a campaign volunteer.
Good schools are about so much more than covering the curriculum, managing classrooms and preparing students for life after high school. Good schools help students to feel accepted, safe and loved.
I am running because I want all students to have what I had: schools with caring adults who lovingly help them become the people they want to be.
So many of our students are struggling with all kinds of challenges at home, which inevitably affects their ability to focus and succeed in school. This makes the role of schools in creating safe and loving spaces even more critical. It also means that we have to look at the educational system in context.
One thing I hope to bring to this race is a focus on the way that all the systems in Oakland work in determining how students show up to school (or do not show up).
Teachers cannot do this work alone. It matters whether the families of our students have stable housing, food security, health insurance, employment, mental health treatment services, and all the rest of it. The community schools movement is a good start in addressing this issue, but we need to think bigger, starting with the way that schools are financed in California.
I am so grateful for the education I received from my public schools, and the caring adults who nurtured me. I want that for every child, and I look forward to working with others in Oakland who want to look at the ecosystem in which teachers are doing this most critical work.