Editorial: Reelect Alleyne and Chavez to Contra Costa education board

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The Contra Costa Board of Education oversees the policies and curriculum for county-run schools and educational programs. It’s an important task. We’re talking about occupational training and special education programs, and schools for incarcerated juveniles and adults.

Fatima Alleyne (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

The board also hears appeals of student expulsions, inter-district transfers and charter school applications. It’s that last issue — charter schools — that unfortunately drives the politics of campaigns for the board.

The teachers’ unions dislike charter schools and candidates who are willing to keep an open mind and apply state law when considering applications. That’s why this year they’re targeting two incumbent board members — Fatima Alleyne in Area 1 in West County and Vikki Chavez in Area 3 in northern Central County.

Alleyne and Chavez deserve reelection. They’ve been part of a board that has had to make tough budgetary cuts in part because of declining enrollment in the county education programs. And, on charter schools, they recognize that some provide innovative alternatives to poor-performing traditional schools and that other charters are poorly run and don’t deserve permission to operate.

Vikki Chavez (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Neither trustee has been a rubber stamp for charter schools. Alleyne voted to approve five of the 11 charter applications that came before the county board in the last four years. Chavez backed nine of the 11.

Alleyne has taken her concerns about some charters a step further, pushing to standardize the approval agreements with charters to ensure transparency, training on open meeting laws and an appeals process for students facing expulsion — to ensure that charters face requirements imposed on traditional schools.

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Alleyne, a mother of four with a doctorate in materials science and engineering, is thoughtful and substantive. She is currently director of community engagement and inclusive practices for UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering. And, when it comes to her work on the county board, she puts a high priority on smart fiscal management with adequate reserves to prepare for economic downturns like the current one.

Meanwhile, Chavez feels that the singular focus on charters misses critical work and issues the county board faces. Seeing the predominantly Black and Brown students in the county office’s jail schooling program, she says, drives home the point that we’re failing children of color, failing to provide them quality education at an early age so they don’t wind up incarcerated.

Chavez teaches cosmetology part-time and, prior to the pandemic, operated her own salon in Concord.

And what about their opponents? Consuelo Lara, a West Contra Costa school district trustee, running in Area 1, and former Martinez Councilwoman Anamarie Avila Farias, running in Area 3, refused to participate in our endorsement interviews.

The choices are clear. Elect Alleyne in Area 1 and Chavez in Area 3.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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