This past Friday, CAA hosted an SFUSD school board candidates forum at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School to give Chinese immigrant community members a chance to directly engage with candidates Jenny Lam and Robert Coleman. The event was jointly organized by CAA Staff and our Outreach Specialists to foster civic engagement and spark dialog ahead of the November elections. Attendees were given headsets for live bilingual interpretation as it was moderated in English and Chinese by Director of Advocacy Hong Mei Pang and Outreach Specialist Ah Yee.

Throughout the forum, candidates Jenny Lam and Robert Coleman commented on several key issues such as desegregation and equity policies, immigrant parent engagement and school safety, student health and wellness. Generally, Jenny Lam offered specific examples from her experience on the school board and highlighted policies that she would implement in her next term. For example, she shared how she would like to see a culture of inclusiveness at school sites and more direct investment in district-wide advisory committees to expand parent’s access to school board members.

Robert Coleman borrowed from his experience in arts-based organizations and offered creative solutions to address issues of segregation and equity to build cross-cultural community. During Q+A, the candidates also fielded questions from community members on afterschool programming, access sexual education and proper resource allocation for English Language Learners. For more on how they responded, see our Twitter thread.

CAA Outreach Specialists helped develop the program and the question topics for the night. They also lead the charge with outreach for the event with more than 100 community members attending due to their efforts. In addition, they supported childcare, food for the night as well as other logistics to ensure a smooth event. They have been instrumental in CAA’s advocacy work by providing an essential perspective and leadership as directly impacted community members in workshops and outreach activities. Their work has greatly helped advance community awareness and civic power in the local Chinese language LEP community.