Josh Daniels is running for Berkeley School Board. Here are his answers to my questions.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your School District and how would you tackle it?
I think that the biggest challenge is how we ensure that BUSD educates all students. We have been making progress in this area, especially in attendance rates and graduation rates. However, we still have a long way to go. I have tackled this issues in a number of ways as a board member. For instance, in 2011 I convinced the board to cut $100,000 from adult education rather than from summer school and I was able to generate majority board support to consolidate our dual immersion programs in order to ensure that our EL students have access to a program that research has shown is the best way to teach EL students. Finally, as board president, I have also led the board in ensuring that the $2.4 million in supplemental LCFF funds directly benefit our most at-risk students via our LCAP, which has received accolades from the ACLU, Public Counsel, and others.
Do you believe there are systemic problems with racial/sexual/gender-based or other discrimination in your district’s schools? How would you tackle them?
Yes, I believe that there are such problems in BUSD as well as in other school districts. In BUSD, I am most focused on the disproportionality in discipline – i.e., African-American students make up a significantly higher percentage of the students suspended as compared with their percentage of the entire student body. BUSD’s LCAP addresses this issue head-on and contains specific actions intended to reduce this disproportionality.
Do you support school dress codes? Specify
I think the school dress codes may be appropriate for certain communities, but not in Berkeley.
Do you believe religious texts, practices or songs should be part of the school’s curricula? If yes, please specify how.