Election Endorsements

San Juan schools are changing fast. These 2 candidates have the skills, background to handle it

Bilingual instructional aide Dalya Abdullah helps Ali Al-Shaban, 6, in his first grade class last year. The number of refugee students in San Juan Unified has soared in recent years, boosting demand for instructors for English learners whose native languages include Arabic, Farsi, Dari and Pasto.
Bilingual instructional aide Dalya Abdullah helps Ali Al-Shaban, 6, in his first grade class last year. The number of refugee students in San Juan Unified has soared in recent years, boosting demand for instructors for English learners whose native languages include Arabic, Farsi, Dari and Pasto. hamezcua@sacbee.com

With 50,000 students — an increasing number of them coming from low-income families who speak English as a second language —and a sprawling footprint that has some of the best schools in Sacramento County and some of the worst, San Juan Unified is a school district in the midst of a massive demographic shift.

While Michael McKibbin, retired chief of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, has served the district admirably for the past four years and is running for re-election, he isn’t the right choice for school board going forward. Instead, voters should look to two highly qualified women of color, Myel Jenkins and Zima Creason.

Jenkins is a manager with the California School Boards Association and has two children in San Juan Unified. With connections and experience that would serve her well as a school board member, she has spent her career managing programs for nonprofits and government, including the Sierra Health Foundation and First 5 Sacramento. She also has served on the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan Advisory Committee.

If elected, Jenkins wants to hire a more diverse pool of teachers, do a better job of supporting students experiencing trauma and instability in their home lives, and address many of the inequities in the district.

Remember, San Juan’s Mira Loma High School is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education over accusations that black students were harassed into dropping out of the International Baccalaureate program.

Creason, who also is a district parent, has worked in mental health policy and advocacy for nearly two decades. She is president of Mental Health America of California, a role that would be valuable as a school board member, given heightened focus on mental health in schools.

If elected, Creason vows to increase transparency, work harder to close the achievement gap and prioritize student safety, including online.

There’s also a fourth candidate, Magali Kincaid, an education advocate who has two children in the school district. She has a lot of good ideas and endorsements to match, but Jenkins and Creason are still the best choices.

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