A crucial decision for a community in crisis

Don Dumas should be elected to the Southwestern College (SWC) Governing Board

Advanced Placement (AP) United States History teacher Don Dumas announced his Southwestern College (SWC) board candidacy on Twitter. Board members will choose two new candidates on Feb. 15 to fill the seats of two parting members. (Adali Leon)

The Southwestern Community College (SWC) Governing Board will make a decisive choice on Feb. 15 to appoint a new board member after board members Nora Vargas and Tim Nader announced their departure. 

Amid the upending of in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SWC and Bonita communities have much at stake. Our community needs a leader who will prioritize the needs of students, work to bridge socioeconomic gaps produced by remote learning and support SWC faculty and staff. 

The right choice, however, could not be clearer: Don Dumas brings a beacon of experience and moral clarity to a community in crisis. 

Dumas, an Advanced Placement (AP) United States History teacher and basketball coach at Bonita Vista High (BVH), comes from humble beginnings. 

Dumas grew up in poverty and felt resentment toward his struggles. He struggled to maintain a stable academic record in high school, often skipping his classes, according to Dumas. He worked several jobs before entering the educational field, including jobs at a mail delivery company and a grocery store. 

Several years later, however, a friend introduced Dumas to historian and author Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, whichalong with James Lowewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wronginspired Dumas to become a history teacher and sparked his passion for addressing socioeconomic inequality in America. 

Dumas looked to education to further his passions and enrolled at San Diego City College (SDCC) in 2004. There, Dumas excelled in his courses and found solace in his academic readings, including the works of Howard Zinn and other racially conscious works. Dumas said his academic awakening “verbalized” his struggles and further fueled his vision to advocate for justice and equality. 

After graduating from SDCC, Dumas enrolled in San Diego State University and was praised by his professors for his intellect and breadth of knowledge. He went on to earn his teaching credentials in 2008 and began working as a BVH teacher in 2014.

In the classroom, Dumas’s magic unfolds. As a former student of his, I can attest to Dumas’s empathy for students and devotion to empowering them with knowledge. 

His speeches are never short of fiery passion, and I never left his classes without feeling enlightened.”

— Isaac Lozano

In his AP US History classes, Dumas regularly presents videos and readings to offer students alternative perspectives on American history and the current state of politics. His speeches are never short of fiery passion, and I never left his classes without feeling enlightened. 

However, his political advocacy does not serve to impose his viewpoints; on the contrary, he once invited students to anonymously share their opinions of him and his views, which he shared in class. 

Dumas does not evade criticism and is honest about his intentions: he teaches to empower. His emphasis on highlighting the needs of the vulnerable does not detract from his support of the privileged. Dumas works to uplift allnot to favor the few. 

In June of 2020, Dumas spoke at a Black Lives Matters event to highlight police brutality and his advocacy has been covered by The San Diego-Union Tribune and an education magazine

It is no surprise that Dumas was named one of five 2019 San Diego County Teachers of the Year. Dumas is devoted to the transformative value of education and critical thinkingthe same thinking that led him from the steps of his childhood home to the county office podium he spoke at after being titled Teacher of the Year.

Dumas understands the full scope of student needs, which is especially relevant during the pandemic. Many students are facing the brunt of unemployment and food insecurity. Dumas knows these issues are important to address to build the next generation.

At SWC, Dumas would advocate for students and staff well after the pandemic. His appointment to the SWC board is not only a necessity: it’s a step toward true justice and equality.