Ellie Householder, 25 & Shagoofa Khan, 18
Ellie & Shagoofa for Antioch Unified School Board
Two young women have teamed to run for Antioch Unified School District's school board. Ellie Householder and Shagoofa Khan are both products of this district and are seeking to make schools even stronger for the students who follow them.
What was the best advice you received before you ran for office?
Shagoofa: The best advice I have received was to never doubt myself, and to not let what other people say affect me. The funny thing is that the whole reason why I didn’t want to run in the first place was because I felt like people weren’t going to take me seriously or that I was going to be a joke. But then I remembered why I even considered running in the first place, well it’s because my school district isn’t heading in the right direction, and that we need to have new people with new ideas/perspective within the board. I also remembered all the students, teachers, and everyone who i've encountered in my district, and I want to provide them all with the best support system, and to be a voice for all of them. If I want to create positive changes I can't just sit down and do nothing I must be the first to step up and doing everything to create those positive changes that is needed in my district. “Be the change I want to see in the world.” is a quote I always refer myself to.
Ellie: The best advice I had before running was simply - “Just do it.” As a young woman, we are led to believe that we can’t hold positions of power. Before I decided to run, I had a lot of doubts about my ability to run. After consulting with some of my close friends and family, they simply told me “just do it.” This was the best advice I ever got.
What issues do you feel have been neglected in your school district that should be addressed?
Shagoofa: Safety is a component to our school district that isn't really working, especially the sense of safety part. It is important for a student to be safe, however if the student is not feeling safe then the student will not be safe. The psychological and emotional part of safety is vital and needs to be addressed to the entire district, so that we need to come up with efficient ways on how to increase sense of safety. Shockingly we do not have counselors or school psychologists at our schools, the only counselors we have are academic related counselors. The students don't have anyone to talk to if they are feeling depressed, scared, and or angry. Who would the student go to to talk about how he/she is getting bullied, most of the time the teachers are focused on teaching, and the administrators are focused on running the school. It's time for the school district to look into options to increase social services for the students.
Ellie: One of the biggest problems I see with the Antioch Unified School District is the lack of before and after school programs for students at all grade levels. Many of our families in Antioch commute to work. While we do have some before and after school programming, the availability is very limited. Shagoofa and I are hoping to expand before and after school programming, that both enriches our young people’s learning, and provides them a safe space to be while their parents are commuting to and from work.
What past experience prepared you the most for school board?
Shagoofa: I can list all the organizations and elected positions i've been on like being a school site council member, being one of the first students on the State Superintendent School Community & Safety Committee, first student to participate in my districts’ LCAP, being apart of Parent Student Teacher Association, leadership, student government and so much more. But in all honesty the experience of being a RECENT graduate is the strongest experience of them all. I understand what goes on within the district, I understand that students are not feeling safe, I understand that teachers are struggling to pay for basic school materials, and that there needs to be a stronger system for accountability. The organizations I have been apart of definitely helped me learn more of what I needed to learn like budgets, pensions, and other entities of how the district is run, but the most important thing to know when on the school board is UNDERSTANDING what goes on through the schools everyday. Antioch unified is stuck in the past and we need to bring the district to the 21st century, and with my experience of going through public schools from K-12 will be of great asset to the school board.
Ellie: I think the thing that has prepared me most for the School Board is simply that I am a product of the Antioch Unified School District. We live in an incredibly diverse and unique community. Because I went to Antioch schools, I have a personal understanding of the struggles that students and families face. In addition, I worked as an Educational Consultant with AUSD for the past two years doing research and community engagement. I know AUSD inside and out, and that is why I think I am qualified and prepared to be a school board member.
Who are your mentors?
Shagoofa: My parents are really the ones whom have always been there for me. My parents fled war from Afghanistan and Pakistan to live in a country that was filled with opportunities not only for themselves but for their children as well. They have instilled strength and compassion in me. I watched them to owning nothing to purchasing a home in the Bay Area. I thank them everyday for all the opportunities, and teaching they have taught me through my life.
Ellie: My family, hands down. I come from a strong working-class family, and my family has had to work incredibly hard to provide for me and my siblings. Whatever happens in life, I know my family will always be there. It hasn’t always been easy, but my parents gave me a strength and resilience I carry with me every day. I am the first in my family to go to college, I am the first in my family to go into politics, and they have supported me 100% the entire way. They have taught me that with hard work, dedication, and passion, I can be anything I want to be. They are the best mentors I could have ever asked for!
How did you two meet?
Shagoofa: Ellie and I met about 3 years ago at a Local Control Accountability meeting, she approached me encouraging me to continue to be involved. I was one of the first students to be apart of the LCAP, and that meeting where I met Ellie was the first meeting I had ever been to. I was really nervous at that meeting, and to have met Ellie that day was one of the best parts of that meeting. She enlightened me about her life, and her continuous work for the district at that time. After that meeting her and I worked on countless community engagement committees, and from hard work and dedication we created a student advisory committee together to increase youth voices within the Antioch Unified School District. She is very committed to everything she does, and I am fortunate to have met such a caring soul like Ellie Householder. She never lets anyone down and really cares about the students, parents, and everyone at the district. She is the reason why I’m at the place where I am right now, she helped me gain the confidence to run for public office. Both Ellie and I hope to do what we have always been doing which is creating positive changes wherever we go into AUSD. We aren’t running together because we know each other, we are running together because we know what it takes to be leaders, and understand what goes on through our schools everyday especially since we both have graduated from AUSD. We are both proud products and will bring AUSD to the 21st century.
Ellie: I met Shagoofa in my first couple of weeks at the Antioch Unified School District when I worked there as an educational consultant. She came to an LCAP meeting, and as soon as I heard her introduce herself with sophistication and grace unparalleled by any other student I met her age, I knew I needed to work with her. Since then, we have collaborated on several projects increasing youth voices in the decision making process in AUSD.
You've been heavily involved with Local Control and Accountability Plan in your area. For people who may not have heard of it, what is LCAP and how does it affect your schools?
Shagoofa: The Local Control Accountability Plan is AUSD’s plan on how to use local funds to increase the academic outcomes of Foster/Homeless youth, English Learners, and Low-income students. There are 6 goals in my district and those 6 goals are 1. School materials, 2. School culture, 3. Social and Emotional Support, 4. English, 5. Math, and 6. College & Career Readiness. Under all those goals there are sub-actions where it would fulfill each of the goals. The most important thing about LCAP was that there is a need of different stakeholders, which is a problem right now where there aren’t a diverse set of stakeholders. LCAP affects our schools because that is were the funds for basic school supplies, programs, actions for administrations come from. It is very important for people to be more aware of the budget systems that goes on within their district, and one huge component to LCAP is that there needs to be different stakeholders at the table discussing the best recommendations for the plan.
That was one thing that AUSD was not doing a good job on, was bringing more stakeholders to the table whether it was parents, students, and or community members. I was one of the first ever students to ever participate within the plan, and what I did not like was that there were no students involved. I decided to create a student advisory committee to increase youth voices within my district, and so far there are about 20-25 active student advocates who get to learn about the budgets and what goes on through our district.
Ellie: The Local Control Accountability Plan is AUSD’s plan on how it will spend funds to meet the needs of our highest needs students. These funds are calculated from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and AUSD is given funds based on the percentage of low income, foster/homeless youth, and English learner students. These funds are around $30 million in annual revenue, so it is safe to say the LCAP and LCFF are extremely important for AUSD. What makes LCAP and this funding stream unique is the community participation required in how these funds are allocated. Every year, different Stakeholders in the community get together to do a needs assessment, where parents, students, community members, and District staff collaboratively decide where best to spend the LCFF funds.
What doubts do you think people have about you as a candidate? What do you say to people who think you're too young to run?
Shagoofa: As a young progressive woman I feel that because I am a young woman and not just a young woman but a woman of color is what makes it hard for people to take me serious. People have treated me in a condescending manner throughout this whole campaign. Instead of looking at who I am & my ideas, they looked at my age, sex, and even race. We still live in a day were racism still exists, and i've faced it my entire life. What do I say to people who think i'm too young to run? Well I say that its time for us to progress into the future with bright young leaders, who actually know what's best for our country. We young people are the future and must stand up for what we believe in. Its not fair that our voices shall be silenced just because of our age, we live in a democracy and should be allowed to get involved with politics just as anyone could.
As for me running for school board, I understand how the students feel, I understand that teachers are struggling everyday, I ultimately know what goes on through our schools everyday. To have that perspective on the school board is very important, and I will not just bring a new perspective but new ideas. I am the fresh breath of air that AUSD really needs. I have also been involved with many organizations throughout my educational career in some which I would look into the budget, increase community engagement, and work with all stakeholders.
Ellie: I believe the only doubts anyone has about Shagoofa or me is our age. To those who think we are too young to run, I would have to say that our youth makes us more qualified, not less. We understand intimately what our young people are going through today. Whether it is social media, online bullying, mass violence, or an apathy and fear of our current political system - Shagoofa and I get it. We are both recent graduates of AUSD schools, we understand what our young people are going through, and we have new and fresh ideas on how we can improve our schools so they work for everyone in our community.
What advice would you give to other young people running for office?
Shagoofa: Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do it, because you CAN do it. There will always be haters in life, and there will always be people who will try to bring us down. Im sorry to say this but young people are never taken seriously. Why? Well its because they do not think we understand the intricacy of any sort of logical decision. How do we change that? GET INVOLVED, AND RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE, we have to show adults that we are capable of creating positive changes, and that we do understand how to work with budgets, people, and ultimately govern. We must not waste time, its now or never. Let us all be apart of the young movement and create a wave for other future young people to show them if we can do it so can they.
Ellie: Just do it. Don’t let anyone tell you your age somehow equates to your qualifications. We need more young people in office who understand what is going on in our current society, and who can provide fresh ideas to make our political system better. Just do it.
The views expressed in this interview are those of the candidate, and do not reflect the beliefs and views of Ballot Breakers or its staff.