May 9, 2008

Jose Preciado wants to represent you on the County Board of Education

By Daniel Muñoz

If you have ever gone to a political debate or forum in the South Bay then you already know who Jose Preciado is. For years now Jose has been the preferred choice as moderator. For those of you who have yet to meet Jose, he is someone you will not soon forget. He is an imposing man who displays a nimble mind, a soft sense of humor, and a dedication to education.

Jose Preciado has always been the facilitator of the political debates but never the focus, that is, until now. Today Jose is running hard to be the next Hispanic representative on the County Board of Education, District 2 to replace current member Nick Aguilar who has decided to step down.

District 2 is in the South Bay and includes the school boards and districts of National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Coronado, San Ysidro, and the Sweetwater Union High School District. The County Board has the responsibility of the Migrant Education program and Juvenile Court and Community schools, Regional Occupational Programs (ROP), and Special Education to name a few.

In the race for district 2, along with Jose, is Yuriy Pavlo Bilokonsky, a Libertarian who so far is running a stealth campaign, and Jerry R. Rindone, councilman for the City of Chula Vista who has been termed out and is now running for the County Board of Education.

For those who know Jose from all the community meetings it came as a bit of a surprise that he had decided to throw his hat into the ring for this seat. “I decided to run for this seat in December,” stated Jose. “I did so because Nick (Aguilar) had made the decision not to run and I saw that as an opportunity to continue to have a voice that looks out for South County interest on the Board of Education. When I say South County interest, I mean the whole community of South County, but in particular those interest from low income backgrounds, from diverse backgrounds that would otherwise not be represented on the board.”

“The board is currently made up of five individuals and with the exception of Nick all four of them are white,” continued Jose. “So I thought it was important for me to run for that seat and continue to provide that voice and representation.”

Jose is in a unique position to bring his perspective to the County Board after growing up in the South Bay and experience the educational system of this district from top to bottom. Jose attended the local schools starting with Nestor Elementary, Southwest Jr High, Southwest High School, and he graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelors Degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish for a single subject teaching credential.

He was able to overcome the persistent achievement gap that is found between the Hispanic community and all other ethnic groups and is an example of success that can be achieved through the Public School System.

“I have been going to the Latino Summit for the last seven years and it really highlights the achievement gap that persists for students of color, of students of low income. While I know that serving on the board in of itself, is not what is going to change educational policy, I do believe that it is a platform for a community activist, like my self, to start highlighting these issues of concern.”

Jose gives an example of where a community activist can highlight the issues and address the achievement gap. “Look at High Tech High that came to Chula Vista. It didn’t come to the West side where we are having the significant achievement gap issues; it went to the East side.”

East Chula Vista is home to all relatively new schools including the recently opened Mater Dei Catholic High School which features a state of the art campus and now High Tech High is another state of the art school, while the students on the West Side of I-805 attend schools that were built long before the computer age and are struggling to keep up.

As Director of the College Readiness Programs for San Diego State University, Jose is in position to give back to his community helping other students through academic enrichment programs in the South Bay.

“I am very interested in the role of the board member because I work in education. For the past ten years I have served in various roles as a college opportunity professional and currently I serve as Director of College Readiness and Director of Faculty/Student Men-toring.”

“The College Readiness program is an initiative where we work with schools directly, Kindergarten through 12th grade to inform teachers, to inform parents, and students about being academically ready for college,” stated Jose.

In his role as director of the College Readiness program he describes his primary function as one of building partnerships. He sees the role of a County Board member as one of building partnerships with the community which he sees as an extension of what he is already doing.

“The role of a member of the Board of Education is to hire an instructional leader for the county, the Superintendent of Schools. The second role that the board has to play is to go out and building cooperation with the community, the business, the political, the social, and the education community to strengthen public education as a whole,” described Jose.

Jose Preciado embodies the spirit of a consensus builder. He is president of the South Bay Forum, a member of the Mexican American Business and Professional Association, Crossroads II, an elected member of the Democratic Party Central Committee, member of the Chicano Democratic Association, Martin Luther King Democratic Club to name a few.

Jose list as his primary goals: to close the achievement gap, extend college opportunity programs such as AVID and College Connections. Strengthen parent involvement and promote the benefits of public education in the community.

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