- Marvin RodrÃ guez
In the election that just passed the charter school industry won one seat to take the majority on the LAUSD School Board. In order to keep control, these publicly funded private schools will have to win all of the three board seats that are before the voters next year. The seat for Board District 2 will be open as Monica Garcia will be prohibited from running due to term limits. After finding himself involved in a series of scandals, Nick Melvoin has yet to announce his intentions for the seat in Board District 4. Newly elected Board President Kelly Gonez in Board District 6 has filed to seek reelection. She will not run unopposed as public school teacher and parent Marvin RodrÃ guez has already filed the paperwork to run against her.
RodrÃ guez and his family immigrated to the United States from El Salvador when he was eight years old. They settled in Los Angeles and RodrÃ guez credits strong bilingual education and magnet programs in LAUSD schools for helping him to transition into a new home country with a different language and culture. He notes that "the success of those programs were a result of amazing teachers who always demonstrated a passion for teaching and love for their students through their hard work and commitment to their success."
After serving his adopted country as a Marine in Iraq, RodrÃ guez earned a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from CSUN in 2005. He then earned a Master's Degree in Multicultural Education with an emphasis on second language acquisition from National University. Since 2014, he has been teaching Spanish at Cleveland High School. "His commitment and determination to advocate and fight for the success of his students through public education" have led to his decision to run for a seat on the LAUSD School Board. Should he be successful, he would be the only member of the board with children enrolled in the district.
When asked to provide his platform, RodrÃ guez provided the following:
- We resist the forces of capitalism and privatization in our schools that want to choose winners and losers. We cannot allow privatizers to continue to weaponize charter schools to undermine our public education system by creating conditions, which force our schools to compete for funding and resources.
- We push back on the narrative that public school teachers are greedy for fighting for fair wages and incentives to compensate them for the work they do to ensure the success of our students. We defend our teachers and dignify the admirable work they do by listening to their needs and equipping them with the resources to do their job effectively.
- We ensure funding for equitable access to quality public education for all our students, especially our most vulnerable. We resist and push back on efforts to balance budgets on the backs of our students and teachers. Our students deserve a commitment to their education during strong and weak financial times. The school board must push back on cutbacks made to public education. After all, the purpose of the board is to ensure the success of the students and communities it is elected to serve.
- We ensure the academic, physical, and emotional success and wellbeing of our students. We advocate and push measures calling for increased funding to our schools directed at curricula, which support the cultural backgrounds of our students and strengthen their cultural and racial identities. We take concrete steps to address the common practices in our schools to take specific disciplinary actions, which disproportionately target our students of color. We cannot continue to allow our students to be targets of disciplinary or criminal "crackdowns" based on racial stereotypes and assumptions of their character. We also increase funding for mental health services for our students and staff and expand our use of social-emotional learning into our curriculum.
- We secure funding to ensure our special needs students consistently receive the services they need to guarantee their academic, physical, and emotional wellbeing and success.
- We work to guarantee quality universal early education so that our children in economically disadvantaged communities have equitable opportunities to succeed academically as they grow older.
- We expand access to community participation in the decision-making process of the district and school board for the sake of transparency. Whether remotely or in person, we schedule board meeting times to meet the needs of parents and teachers, who are unable to leave work early enough to attend meetings where decisions affecting them directly are made.
These points of focus serve to outline a philosophy that reflects RodrÃ guez's strong belief in public education. In the 14 months left before the election, he must fill in the details and show the electorate specifically how he will accomplish his goals and make his opinion known on items currently before the board. As an example, he states that "the purpose of our campaign is also to keep our communities informed about the issues related to public schools" and that "expanding community engagement at board meetings is part of the message." He would, therefore, "absolutely" support the Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public resolution that has been presented to the board but has yet to be formally introduced by any of the board members. It would be a good sign if RodrÃ guez is able to use his campaign to promote some much-needed action on this proposal.
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 "strong supporter of public schools." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.