Dr. Jason Oliver Chang has been unanimously selected by the Democratic caucus of the West Hartford Board of Education (BOE) to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Sean Passan on June 2, 2020.
“After our public call for applications, nearly a dozen highly qualified candidates came forward for consideration – which speaks volumes about how much our community values both education and public service,” says Deb Polun, BOE chairperson. “Ultimately, Dr. Chang was selected for the many ways in which his candidacy complemented the skill sets and composition of our current members, and we are confident that his professional and personal background will help drive forward the goals of the West Hartford Board of Education. We are so excited that he is joining our team.”
Chang is an associate professor of History and Asian/Asian American Studies and serves as the director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute at UConn. He and his partner, Julie, are the proud parents of three children, all of whom attend Charter Oak International Academy. He holds a PhD in Comparative Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley; an MA in Comparative Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley; an MPPA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a BA in Political Economy/Latin American Studies from Prescott College, Arizona.
Chang has dedicated his adult life personally and professionally to working as a public advocate, educator, and scholar. He is trained as an historian in the field of Comparative Ethnic Studies, with an expertise in the study of racism through the recovery of erased pasts and the politics of reconciliation. His work has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution’s American Latino and Asian Pacific American Centers, and he has worked to protect and expand Ethnic Studies programs in higher education, as well as for the adoption of Ethnic Studies curriculum in state standards for K-12 education.
“I feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to serve the community as a member of our district’s school board,” says Chang. “I look forward to working for the changes we desperately need and want, as well as to being part of the response to the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic. As an anti-racist educator, I know schools are the foundations of our communities and a core dimension of creating long-lasting social change. There’s a lot of work to do, and I’m ready to be part of this team.”
Chang will be appointed officially at a Special Meeting of the Board of Education on Friday, July 17 at 4:30 p.m. His appointment is valid until November 2021, at which time, he may choose to run in the municipal election to earn the community’s vote to serve out the final two years of Sean Passan’s term.
Note: The Board of Education will also meet on Tuesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. to prepare for the 2020-21 school year. For more information, visit www.whps.org/boe.