Running to ensure equitable access to education
on October 2, 2020
Y’Anad Burrell has a mission: Improve education and opportunities for people of color in Richmond. That’s why she is hoping to serve as an area four board member for the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD).
“All I’ve been hearing over 10, 15 years is that the West Contra Costa Unified School District continues to be low in achievement,” said Burrell, the CEO and founder of Glass House Communications. “[The district] continues to have challenges in getting Black and brown students equity in terms of their education and access.”
Burrell said she believes that the pandemic has exacerbated the academic achievement gap between white and Black or brown students by creating more social isolation, anxiety and depression — and that’s something she believes she can address if she is elected to the school district’s board.
“Most of the activity I’ve done throughout Richmond and the county has had a health equity lens,” said Burrell, who also serves on the Access to Quality Health Care Team for Healthy Richmond, an organization that engages in policy advocacy for education equity, economic justice, healthcare for all and criminal justice reform.
Roxanne Carillo Garza, the senior director of Healthy Richmond, said Burrell has worked hard to ensure school-based health centers have the resources they need to continue providing socioemotional and physical health services.
“She’s a good example for a resident who jumped onto a number of different groups so she could have a better sense of what decisions were being made around health and how she could impact those dialogues,” Garza said.
The Access to Quality Health Care Team, says Garza, works to ensure there is culturally appropriate messaging and effective outreach to populations at a higher risk for COVID-19, especially people who historically do not trust healthcare systems.
“She’s really passionate about the things she both cares about and is active in,” Garza said. “One is the mental health example but she also has expertise around communications and … how we can engage a broader base of residents.”
Burrell said she believes mental health and wellness play directly into education.
Cheryl Sudduth, vice president of the West County Wastewater District Board of Directors, first met Burrell 25 years ago when she was a paralegal. She describes Burrell as someone with a steady disposition, a great legal approach and the methodological mind of a trained accountant.
“The good thing about having someone who is very cognizant of the reputation of the district is if your lens is focused with equity and students themselves and building it from the bottom up, instead of the top-down, you’re always focused on the true nature of education,” Sudduth said.
In terms of narrowing the digital divide hotspot by hotspot, Burrell intends to leverage her relationships built through her PR experience.
“Tech companies are giving millions of dollars to school districts right now,” Burrell said. “I’m present in a lot of areas already. I’m present in different sectors already. So my name will not be new to a lot of these tech companies.”
(Lead photo courtesy of Burrell)
NOTE: This year, the race for the WCCUSD school board has been split up into five geographic trustee areas. To learn more, check out the WCCUSD page.
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