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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 educator candidate in our series: VanCedric Williams.

VanCedric Williams

Candidate for: Oakland Unified School District Board of Education

Experience: High school social and ethnic studies educator 20 years, the last three as treasurer of United Educators of San Francisco.

Why: I am running because we need to build a new collaborative spirit to stop privatization, support high-quality schools for historically underserved communities, ensure equitable and adequate school funding, end the racist practice of school closures and charter colocations, and invest in restorative justice. Oakland hasn’t had a teacher on the school board in 20 years. I would like to change that. We need to be bold, courageous and unapologetic when making decisions about and for students.

Top issues: Budget transparency and accountability. Supporting sustainable and full-service community schools. Increasing literacy, improving graduation rates and including K-12 ethnic studies. Using a racial and social equity lens when making decisions that affect underserved students. Investing in anti-racist training, restorative justice, and eliminating the OUSD police.

Distance campaigning: It’s really challenging to campaign in the era of social distancing. Sharing authentic connections with audiences has been a challenge. I rely heavily on phone calls to make that connection with voters. My campaign has been 95 percent virtual — I’ve had a virtual kickoff, virtual political forums, virtual fundraisers, virtual parent discussions, and virtual endorsement announcements.

Choosing to lead now: I was inspired by a confluence of events, including the killing of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many other innocent African Americans across our nation; the Black Lives Matter and #SayTheirName protests; the DeVos disaster as secretary of education; and the debate over reopening schools during a pandemic. It is not enough to shake our fist; we must be willing to act. I realized it would take a collective effort to build a new collaborative spirit to stop privatization, support high-quality schools for historically underserved communities, ensure equitable and adequate school funding, end the racist practice of school closures and charter colocations, and invest in restorative justice. I am ready to do that work.

Website/social: vancedricwilliams.com; Facebook page: VanCedric Williams for OUSD

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