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Planting a Flag in LAUSD's District 2

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To the Parents of District 2:

When was the last time you felt that you had a voice in how the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is run? None of the seven Board members currently has a student enrolled in the District and cannot empathize with parents fighting to get the best education possible for their children. Those of us with children who require special-education services fare even worse as the LAUSD has struggled for twenty years to prove that it no longer needs court oversight to ensure that it provides these students the support that they need. Meanwhile, warnings of an impending bankruptcy have increased as the charter industry, represented by Monica Garcia, diverts education funds from public schools to those that have no public accountability and promote the segregation of the most severe special education students and English language learners.

It is time to give parents a voice on the LAUSD Board of Education and I want to become your microphone. With your support, we can make sure that parents have a seat at the table, along with teachers and administrators, to make sure that our children are given the opportunities that are afforded by a first-class, public education. My wife, Nicole, and I have had two of our children graduate from the LAUSD and our triplets are still enrolled in the District. We know what it is like to fight to secure needed services for our two daughters who are on the autism spectrum. For every parent who has tried to fight the district bureaucracy and met an intractable brick wall, I feel your pain as I have been there. Working together we can win this fight.

Today I filed paperwork with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission to become a candidate for the District 2 seat on the LAUSD Board. The decision to enter this race does not come easily. Last year, I ran against another board member supported by the California Charter School Association and understand how difficult it will be to overcome the hundreds of thousands of dollars that they are likely to spend trying to keep this seat. I have felt the sting of personal attacks by the heavily partisan LA School Report and have argued my case before the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board knowing that their minds were already made up. No matter how difficult the fight, our children's future is at stake. With a firm, personal belief that education is the great equalizer, it is a fight that I cannot walk away from.

There will be people who will be suspicious of the fact that I will move into District 2 to enter this race. I understand your concern and assure you that I am doing so because our children need a parent on the board to fight for them. I am taking the fight to District 2 because Monica Garcia has lost touch with the needs of the children and represents the worst attributes of our dysfunctional school board. As an example, the cameras of KNBC accidentally caught a glimpse of Garcia without her public mask during last year's district-wide shutdown as a result of a terrorist threat. As parents combated fear and scrambled for alternate childcare arrangements, Garcia laughed and joked with the cameraman that she was "going to be the Mexican Oprah ." Only after she realized that she was live did she put on her serious face and confront the crisis at hand. As your representative on the School Board, I will take the issues facing our students seriously, even when the cameras are not present.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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