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 educator candidate in our series: Ken Tang.
Candidate for: Alhambra Unified School District Board of Education
Why: My entire life has been dedicated to service above self – as a public school teacher, labor activist and community member. As a first-generation immigrant, I grew up in Alhambra and attended public schools. I am running for school board because I want what’s best for our schools, our students, our educators, and to give back to the community that made me who I am today.
Top issues: First, we must make safety and mental health a priority for our students and staff. Our schools have a shortage of nurses and counselors. Often, our office staff and our educators are forced to act as first responders and counselors for our students when they may not be properly trained in these important roles. They do their best but it is not fair to them or their students. I will work to ensure each school has at least one nurse and one counselor. I will make sure our educators are properly supported by administration in all ways including their contractual rights, their well-being, and their access to the resources they need. We must provide for those who provide for our kids.
Second, information and decisions about district finances must be public and transparent. I will make sure students, parents, educators, and other community members are part of this. Third, the district must communicate and work with all community stakeholders – our families, students and all our educators and staff in Alhambra Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association. With me, our community will always have a board member who will communicate regularly. I will always be accessible and listen to concerns and input before taking action.
Distance campaigning: It’s been a tough campaign, however that doesn’t change anything. You still need to get your message out there, so I talk to anyone who gives me eye contact or anyone willing to listen to my story. I wear my Tang AUSD 2020 gear everywhere. I talk to people in line at the grocery store or when I’m eating a meal at the local mom-and-pop restaurants. Phone banking and text banking are a critical part of my campaign. I also drive around the neighborhood with my campaign magnets on my car. We’ve had caravan parades around the neighborhoods lead by our volunteers with GOTV messages for our slate and Prop. 15.
Choosing to lead now: In a time of crisis, we can’t continue to do the same thing and expect different outcomes. That would be insane! We need change, and the students and community deserve leaders who care, are on the front line every day, who understand the struggles first-hand and are innovative with fresh new ideas. Since the pandemic closure, I have not ceased to organize, pack, collect, donate, distribute and deliver food baskets to families in need in two communities (the one where I work and the one where I live). I am running for Alhambra School Board to give back to the community that made me who I am, and because I want what’s best for our students, schools, educators and community.