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By Julian Peeples

Some people are just born to lead. This has to be why educators across the state are rising to serve their communities in the midst of multiple crises that threaten our collective health, safety and future prosperity. They’re campaigning for election like never before, finding new and creative ways to reach voters while maintaining safe social distancing and healthy practices.

We’re shining a light on some of these dedicated educators running for election during this chaotic time – leaders who are rising to defend our students and fight for the schools and community colleges they deserve. Here’s the next in this series: Christopher Pope.

Christopher Pope

Candidate for: Visalia Unified School District Board of Education

Experience: Educator for 22 years, primarily in elementary grades (now retired from Visalia Unified); Western Regional Director for the NEA American Indian Alaska Native Caucus.

Why: I decided to run for school board, as the incumbent has been in office for nine years. Even the President of the United States can only be in office a maximum of eight years! The incumbent has no classroom experience, so it’s difficult for her to relate to parents, students and administration.

Top issues: Correct our procedures on classrooms behavior, which impact student learning and are emotionally draining on teachers and students. Increase career technical education and training to offer a promising future for students who will not pursue a college degree. Add a reading intervention specialist at every elementary school in the district to ensure that all students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Embrace diversity and work toward equity and equality in our community.

Distance campaigning: Campaigning is very different in this era of social distancing. Speaking to civic clubs is not possible. Some organizations have organized Zoom or other types of platforms to introduce me as a candidate.

Choosing to lead now: We are living in difficult and challenging times. Today more than ever, we need a school board to meet the challenges. Our board needs new insight and direction. Having just retired after 22 years of teaching, I’ve been in the trenches. I hear the voices of our parents, students and staff.

Website/social: Pope4SchoolBoard; Facebook: Christopher Pope for School Board

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