"https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/01/17/backing-teachers-sanders-says-la-strike-exposes-national-need-revolution-public">What we really need in this country is a revolution in public education."
- Bernie Sanders
The members of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board are not known for having a long tenure. Of the seven members on the board, five were seated since 2014. Of these five, George McKenna (Board District 1) is the longest-serving, having been elected after his predecessor passed away while in office. Scott Schmerelson (Board District 3) took office the following year after defeating the incumbent at the ballot box. In the next election cycle, Nick Melvoin (District 4) also defeated his predecessor and Kelly Gonez (District 6) won an election in which the incumbent did not run as she sought a spot on the Los Angeles City Council. The board's freshman member, Jackie Goldberg (District 5), returned to her old board seat last year after former charter school administrator Ref Rodriguez was convicted of felony charges related to his campaign.
While Monica Garcia (District 2) is the longest-serving board member, having taken office in 2006, Richard Vladovic (District 7) will be the first member of the board to be forced from office due to term limits. This is due to the fact that the maximum of three terms only applies to those elected on or after March 1, 2007. As a result, for the first time in 13 years, voters in South Los Angeles will face a ballot without Dr. V's name on it. Of the four 2020 LAUSD School Board elections in 2020, it will also be the only one without an incumbent in the running.
Five candidates collected enough signatures to have their names placed on the March 3, 2020, primary ballot. As a group, they bring a diverse set of skills to the race. They include the politician who preceded Dr. Vladovic, a current teacher, a parent, a Director of Charter Schools and a lawyer working in the field of education.
While much of the coverage of elections is focused on how much the candidates raise or who has endorsed them, this data provides no useful information for voters attempting to make an educated choice. With this in mind, I sent a set of eight questions to the email address that each of the candidates provided to the Los Angeles City Clerk. While I specified a deadline of December 23, 2019, in the email, I extended the due date for any candidate who requested it. All but Mike Lansing responded.The Candidates:
Mike Lansing did not provide a response to the questionnaire. He is widely considered to be the candidate supported by the charter school industry. If he were to win the race, charter schools would regain the majority that they lost with the felony conviction of Ref Rodriguez.The Questions:
Question 1: Currently, not one of the LAUSD Board Members has a child who is enrolled in a district school. Do you commit to hiring staff members who have children enrolled in a district school? If not, how will you ensure that parent voices are heard?
Patricia Castellanos: "One of the main reasons that I am running for the LAUSD School Board is to ensure that parents are represented in the top decision-making that impacts our children's lives. I am a parent of a first-grader that currently attends an LAUSD school and understands many of the hopes and concerns shared by parents across the District. If elected to the Board, I would be the only member with a child currently attending an LAUSD school. Beyond that, I am committed to hiring a staff that
reflects the District's racial and socioeconomic diversity, which also includes staff that understands the crucial perspectives of parents."
Tanya Franklin: "I commit to seriously considering all aspects of diversity of experience and perspective in hiring for our team, including district parenthood, which is incredibly important. My campaign consultant is an LAUSD parent and several of my closest advisors and campaign volunteers are district parents. As a board member, I will regularly convene a BD 7 advisory group of parents and educators, as I have done in my time at the Partnership for LA Schools, to discuss and offer feedback on important issues and ideas so that the voices of those closest to kids and classrooms meaningfully contribute to our district's decision-making. I will also ask our Superintendent and Board to invest the required energy and care into our PAC, CAC and DELAC committees as well as respect parents' time coming to board meetings for public comment. I look forward to continuously seeking guidance from our parents, educators and school staff to monitor progress and impact of district policies and practices."
Lydia Gutierrez: "I am a strong advocate for parent voices to be heard and recognized. By law, when hiring, the employer is not allowed to ask about their personal background if they have children or not. Once I am elected, I would set up a system where parents have easy access to me. I would have every school post my contact information on their school website in the 7th district. I would have scheduled coffee meetings in the evening throughout my district so parents could meet me, share their concerns, and I could share what issues the district is dealing with."