Jennifer Shanoski, chemistry professor at Merritt College and president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, is running for the 2022 Berkeley Unified School District School Board.
Asked to run by a group of community members, including current board members, Shanoski is centering her campaign on three major platforms: closing achievement gaps, improving science education and teacher and staff recruitment and retention.
“I really believe in the power of public education,” Shanoski said. “I’m the proud product of public education, including a graduate degree from UC Berkeley.”
With two children in the public school system and as a professor at a community college, Shanoski said she sees various perspectives related to public education. Shanoski added that her volunteer work and labor experience make her close to the community and capable of handling the bargaining unions within BUSD.
Shanoski said she intends to address educational achievement gaps between African American and Latine students compared to white students. Although there are initiatives in the Berkeley school system to close those gaps, Shanoksi said she wants to take a different approach using data to assess those initiatives and shift resources toward the most effective programs.
“It’s important to center the voices of the communities that are most impacted,” Shanoski said. “Through my labor work, I really focused on community organizing… where we really talk to impacted students and families and make sure that we’re doing our best for them.”
Improving and diversifying science education is also central to Shanoski’s campaign. Shanoski, who has a doctorate degree in physical chemistry, said she intends to further integrate science into lower classes and ensure that successful science programs are fully funded.
Additionally, Shanoski said she wants to stabilize teacher and staff recruitment and retainment, as there has been significant turnover in the last few years. Recruiting diverse, competent staff as well as inducing them to stay is important to her, she said.
“One of the things that sets me apart is that I’m a community organizer,” Shanoski said.
According to Shanoski, she knows the value of listening to diverse opinions, which would help her better the Berkeley school system.
Shanoski is endorsed by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, seven current city councilmembers, Berkeley School Board President Ka’Dijah Brown, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, organizations such as the Berkeley Federation of Teachers and the Alameda Labor Council and other community members.
“I have a track record of working hard for working families and a commitment to always do what I think will be in the best interest of the community,” Shanoski said. “I promise to bring that commitment and that energy that works to the school board to keep our school strong.”