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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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School
November 8, 2016 —California General Election

Berkeley Unified School District — ” Judy Appel, Candidate for School Director

Photo of Judy Appel

Judy Appel

Berkeley School Board Director
39,461 votes (50.6%)Winning
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  • Achieve equity in education for all students
  • Foster positive school climates that support student success
  • Align spending with district goals
Profession:Incumbent, Berkeley School Board, Attorney, Non-profit executive director

After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in environmental studies, I was invited to join a field study in Costa Rica focusing on insect-plant interactions. I spent the next four years in Central America, working on projects that focused on alternatives to pesticide use and sustainable agriculture. Working with indigenous and rural agrarian communities to implement alternatives to pesticides taught me so much not only about sustainable environmental practices, but also about listening, organizing, and the power of community.

 

Our democracy relies on civic involvement - I believe it will require all of our commitment if we are to become the society we believe in. After returning to the Bay Area to attend the Hastings/UC Berkeley joint degree program in Law and City and Regional Planning, I was immediately struck by the glaring injustice of chronic homelessness, and homeless advocacy became a major focus. I was awarded a National Association for Public Interest Equal Justice Fellowship, which allowed me to develop a civil rights position with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, integrating legal strategies in a grassroots organization. In addition to my work at the Coalition, I helped create and then served on the Board of Directors of the Community Housing Partnership, which builds and manages both supported and independent housing for formerly homeless people.

 

Through my work on homeless advocacy, I also became involved in criminal justice reform and governmental transparency, serving on the Board of Directors of Ella Baker Center, National Lawyer’s Guild, Media Alliance and the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

 

As my life continued to evolve, I became intimately aware of the challenges facing the LGBT community. My partner, Alison Bernstein and I were early leaders in the gay marriage movement, getting married (for the first time) in 1996, again in 2004 when Mayor Newsom legalized gay marriage, and finally in 2013, during the Prop 8 “window”. When we had our kids, we also joined the growing movement to win equality for our families, pushing for inclusion in our schools and social welfare programs.

 

After receiving my J.D., I worked for ten years as a civil rights attorney, first at the Coalition on Homelessness, and then at the Drug Policy Alliance. At the Coalition, I was involved in both direct advocacy as well as impact litigation, working closely with the Northern California ACLU, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and private law firms to afford the poorest and most desperate among us their basic civil rights. At the Drug Policy Alliance, my focus was on reducing the harm caused by drug enforcement policies aimed at communities of color, and in particular women.

 

I have spent over a decade supporting LGBTQ families as the Executive Director of Our Family Coalition. Under my leadership, OFC worked throughout California to create LGBTQ-welcoming and inclusive schools, introducing the Welcoming Schools guide so that schools are safe for all children. We support parents/caregivers and their children through over 150 events each year. One of the events that I am most proud of is our annual LGBTQ family night at the Berkeley Downtown YMCA, which just celebrated its 18th year.

 

I have been deeply involved in the implementation of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act, which updates the educational guidelines to ensure that LGBT people are included in a fair and accurate way in our teaching of history and social movements. This, along with our work in elementary schools, helps make safer learning environments for queer youth. By normalizing the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history of our state, country and the world, the FAIR Education Act will play a critical role in ending stigma and creating a more equitable world.

 

Over the past three years we have also been involved in several important pieces of legislation that impact LGBT people and families. OFC sponsored the Modern Family Act (making it easier and less expensive for gays and lesbians to adopt), a bill paving the way for secured parental rights with home insemination, and a bill that requires the collection of data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in four large statewide departments. I am committed not only to help pass good laws, but to doing what I can to make sure that they are fully and fairly implemented.

 

Educational equity has become my passion, and I am now bringing my skills to help further school-based health as the Executive Director of the California School-Based Health Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and academic success of children and youth by advancing school-based health care. I am proud to play a role in working toward a future when all students have access to the health services they need to be successful in school. School-based health care includes programs such as school-based health centers (SBHCs), mental health services, dental programs, school nursing, and mobile programs, all critical for the well-being of our students.

 

My life’s work reflects not only my commitment to creating a more just and equitable society, but my willingness to stand up for those who frequently have no voice. Whether it is fighting to protect the rights of the poorest in our streets or supporting the rights of all LGBTQ people to create families, I will bring all I have to the fight to ensure that rights are protected and each and every one of us is given an opportunity to grow and thrive.

 

 

As a member of the Berkeley School Board, I have been honored to serve this community and to work with the community to find smart, innovative and effective approaches to the daunting task of educating our diverse student body for the challenges of the 21st century.

   

 

 

Every child deserves the opportunity to be seen, valued and challenged at school. This simple goal is a hallmark of a just and equitable society, the kind of society I have been working to create for the last thirty years - as an activist, civil rights attorney, executive director, social justice leader, elected official and the proud parent of two BUSD students. It has been an honor for me to serve on the Berkeley School Board for the past four years, where I have been driven by my belief in our students and my deep commitment to ensuring that every one of them has access to a quality education and appropriate resources, particularly those students who are struggling. While we have accomplished a great deal as a board, I recognize there is still much to do, and I am eager for the opportunity to continue our good work.

 

Being an effective school board trustee requires an understanding of the overarching challenges facing our schools, and some real insights into how to bring  people together to further examine and  define those challenges and, based on that deeper understanding, develop smart and innovative solutions.  I  believe I have those skills, and have already begun the work off better defining our problems and identifying and implementing real solutions.

 

ACHIEVE EQUITY IN EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS

Berkeley Unified School District has been making real strides in closing the opportunity gap through a combination of academic interventions, coordination of services, intentional staff training, and implementation of research-validated equity strategies for the classroom.

 

We need to continue to deepen these efforts so that we can close the racial predictability of academic achievement while creating learning environments that challenge all of our students.

 

ALIGN SPENDING WITH DISTRICT GOALS

We owe it to our children and our community to make sure that we are spending district resources to attain the best outcomes for our students. We have done an excellent job of this, with our credit ratings reaching a new high this year.

I will continue to be a vigilant steward of our resources, making sure to allocate them to those programs and systems that best support our students. We must continue to align our spending strategically with our district goals

 

FOSTER POSITIVE SCHOOL CLIMATES THAT SUPPORT STUDENT SUCCESS

Our students need to feel connected to the adults in their school, and safe expressing themselves for who they are in order to succeed not just in school, but in the life that follows. This is an area where I have taken a lead over the past four years. Positive school climates allow children to learn and give teachers the opportunity to teach.

We will achieve this through the implementation of our new Restorative Practices plan, the expansion of our social emotional learning program, Toolbox, and increased intervention counseling and mental health supports.

 

STRENGTHEN TIES BETWEEN SCHOOL, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY

Our schools must create opportunities for all parents and caregivers to engage in their children's education. The involvement of parents and caregivers in their children's learning is an essential ingredient to students' success.

Our world-class community resources – higher education, service agencies and business – must be leveraged to enrich our students’ learning.

 

This year there are a myriad of critical local measures that we face as voters. Measure E1, which funds the the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) is critically important to our schools. As a community response to school funding shortages in the wake of Proposition 13, this local tax measure has made a huge difference in the quality of our children’s education for the past 30 years.  BSEP pays for almost one in three Berkeley teachers to ensure small class sizes, funds all of our school libraries and library staff, funds the music program for grades 4 through 8, provides programs to support struggling students, and much more.

 

Please vote Yes on E1!!!

 

 

 

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