Veronica Anderson Thigpen wants to bring new perspective to school board

Veronica Anderson Thigpen at City Hall filing papers for candidacy

Veronica Anderson Thigpen has been working in education and schools for a long time. She now wants to bring that experience to the Piedmont Unified School District board of education.

Anderson Thigpen is one of five candidates running for three seats on the board. The top three vote-getters in the November 3 election will assume their seats at the end of the year.

Anderson Thigpen is a recent transplant to Piedmont. She moved here in 2018 with her family, “in large part because of the schools.”

In her relatively short time in Piedmont, she has quickly gotten involved in the schools. She helped launch a Black student affinity group and was involved in submitting a racial equity policy. She is co-President of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee and co-chaired the local Martin Luther King Day celebrations the past two years.

Anderson Thigpen said in an online Q&A with the Exedra she decided to run because she is passionate about “equity and inclusion in public education.”

“As a relatively new resident of Piedmont, I offer a different perspective and fresh approaches informed by research and exposure to other school districts,” she wrote.

“I bring my lived experience as person of color. I bring my background as an education journalist and as a consultant who advises schools on strategy. I have closely followed education policies, trends and practices for more than 20 years. I am a problem-solver who draws on my professional experience in education and my social justice values to develop solutions that work. I believe in public service and I have long served on the boards of nonprofit organizations and volunteered in the communities where I live.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on schools are front and center, Anderson Thigpen said. Piedmont schools have started the new school year with students learning from home. That’s after the last three-plus months of the 2019-20 school year had online classes thanks to the pandemic. Some parents are concerned that their children might not be getting the same level of education online compared to in-person instruction. Some teachers, many of whom are in vulnerable demographics in terms of the disease, have expressed concerns that school cannot yet open safely.

“Obviously, the most challenging issues schools face now are uncertainties resulting from the pandemic and distance learning,” Anderson Thigpen wrote. “The loss of personal contact between students, their classmates and their teachers has been devastating. Everyone is feeling the pressure.

“In recent weeks, students have transitioned from unstructured summer months at home to the rigors of daily classes and homework. Working parents struggle to balance office responsibilities with parenting, a particularly challenging dance for those with young children. At the same time, teachers are working mightily to adjust to new technologies in remote environments. COVID has presented us with a steep challenge: How do we educate our children in a different way that is both effective and fulfilling?”

Anderson Thigpen moved to Piedmont from Chicago. Her daughter is a junior at Piedmont High School. Anderson Thigpen has served on several non-profit boards and has a background as an education and business journalist. She has a degree from Northwestern, was a Knight Fellow at Stanford and was on the steering committee for the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. (Disclosure: Anderson Thigpen is married to Exedra advisor David Thigpen, who heads UC Berkeley’s undergraduate journalism program.)

Read Anderson Thigpen’s Q&A HERE for more details about her priorities and positions.

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