Candidate Q&A: José Magaña Running To Represent Area 2 on the San Jose Unified School District Board of Trustees

It is important to have dedicated and passionate members on a school board district, leaders who will really fight and do the impossible to improve an education for all students, regardless of zip code. All children have the right to have the best education and better options, and we need leaders who make all decisions based on children’s best interests.

When we have an experienced teacher making a courageous decision to run for school board member, as parents, we should get involved and support these types of leaders. We currently have an educator running for school board in our district, and he is one amazing teacher who knows our community and the needs of our children.

José Magaña is an educator who has decided to run for the San Jose Unified School District Board of Trustees. He was making a difference at different schools and now is ready to make an impact at a larger scale.

I was able to speak with José about his candidacy and why he wants to be on the San Jose Unified School Board of Trustees.

EH: What do you think your candidacy represents?

José: I’m the only candidate who has been a teacher, who has coached teachers, instructional staff, school leadership, and district leadership. I’m also the only candidate of color — the only Latinx/Latino candidate. I speak Spanish. I was raised by a teen mom and incarcerated father, and my immigrant grandparents also helped raise me. I’m endorsed by the San Jose Mercury News, Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara Democratic Party, Silicon Valley Young Dems, La Raza Roundtable, Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club, Run for Something, and California Evolve. I bring a fresh perspective to this race. My two main opponents ran against each other for city council a couple years back. They believe that schools are going great which is a big reason why I’m running.

EH: What are you top three goals if you get elected to the school board?

José: Here are the top three goals that I would love to work for:

College and Career Readiness:

As the only candidate who has been a teacher, coached educators, and worked on education policy, I know what it takes in order to expand college and career readiness. As a district, we need to work with businesses, community groups, and government to expand resources and opportunities for students and teachers. Teachers do not have the needed resources needed to prepare our students for the 21st century world economy that we live in. Students, especially students of color and lower socioeconomic status, are being left behind in grade level reading, high school graduation, and college acceptance rates. Families are also unsure of how to prepare their children for the world they will live and work in. I believe it is our duty as a district to expand partnerships to provide expanded resources to schools so that our students and teachers have what they need to be prepared. We need to partner with businesses, labor groups, and other apprenticeship programs to provide other career exploration and opportunity programs for our children. And finally, we do need to improve our grade level, high school graduation, and college acceptance rates. We need to make sure that our students are not only prepared for college and apprenticeship programs, but are prepared to complete and finish their programs as well.

School Safety:

Being the only candidate of color, I know how important it is to ensure that we have our schools be safe spaces not only for our students, but also for our families and staff. As an educator, I know directly the importance of ensuring that classroom communities are a safe space for learning and growing together. When bullying, violence, and harassment occur in classrooms and schools, it becomes impossible to teach, learn, and thrive. It is crucial that we keep our students, families, and staff safe from gun violence, harassment, and bullying while at school. In order to do so, it is important that we partner with the experts to provide the training, resources, and home support to ensure that we have the safest classrooms possible. We must collaborate with parents, community groups, and local government to access more resources to continue to create and keep these spaces safe.

Teacher/Staff/Family Housing:

The cost of living in our city is going up significantly, and it is becoming more difficult to live and work in San José. I had to make the tough decision to transition out of the classroom to seek other opportunities in education that would allow me to better support myself and my family financially, now and in the future. I don’t want teachers and staff to have to make that decision or move from the area. As an educator, I know the power of being able to serve the community that you live in. As a trustee, I want our district to look at how we can utilize district property and collaborate with businesses, community groups, and government to provide housing for our teachers, staff, and families.

EH: How long have you been teaching? And what inspired you to pursue elected office?

José: I had the privilege of serving my students and families as a teacher for four years. I taught kindergarten and 1st grade in East San José and South Los Angeles. During my time as a teacher, I worked hard to engage families through home visits, parent workshops, and advising the parent groups on campus. After my time in the classroom, I transitioned into education technology where I coached teachers, instructional staff, school and district leadership in mathematics, literacy, and technology in the classroom. I am proud to have worked with educators here in San José, the rest of California, and throughout the United States of America. My work in education has also provided me the opportunity to be a Library and Early Education Commissioner for the city of San José where we have championed the elimination of late fees for all children’s library items in the city.

Ultimately, I decided to pursue elected office because I believe that experience and representation matters. After long discussions with my wife, family, and community leaders, I decided to run for San José Unified School Board. I first debated whether I would run for school board because I was already doing the work in education through my role as a coach and commissioner. But after much thought and conversation, we realized how important it was to have a school board with trustees who not only have dedicated their lives to working in education, but also look like the students and families of the district. When we look at the data, over 70% of the student population in Area 2, and over 50% of the entire SJUSD district identified as Latino/Latinx. As I heard that no Latino/Latinx folks were interested in running, I knew it was crucial to have someone like the student population as a candidate. And as I have heard growing up, “Si no soy yo, ¿entonces quién?”

I also decided to run because I think the families of SJUSD want a fresh perspective, who has also done the work and represents the values of the community. Although many people in political circles have written me off because of my youth, the community is excited to know that they have a candidate who looks like the district, has vast experience in education, and is not business as usual.

What do you think?

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Eva Heredia

Eva Heredia

Eva is a parent leader at Rocketship Discovery Prep and at KIPP Heritage Academy in East Side San Jose. She currently lives in San Jose California with her two beautiful daughters and her husband. She was born in Mexico City in 1976 but also considers Oaxaca as her home because of her mother.

She began her leadership at Rocketship Discovery Prep over four years ago. She learned that there was so much more that she could do as a parent beyond volunteering in her children’s classroom. Eva became fully aware of the political involvement a parent must act on.

She has the experience and extensive knowledge about public officials, school board members, and school administrators who play an important role in public education in East Side San Jose. She supported the opening of Kipp Navigate at a State level, by advocating for quality schools alongside other parents in 2018. She then became a founding parent at Kipp Navigate. Besides being a champion for high-quality education and choice, she also helped build the Wooster Neighborhood Association in her community. She is the voice for her children, students, and her community. She is a huge supporter of parent engagement, choice, and access to higher education. In addition, Eva also attended an Adult High School and graduated from Independence High School in 2019.

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