With less than a day before elections the candidates for the pivotal L.A. Unified school board district 6 race squared off on key classroom policies on KPCC’s Airtalk. The candidates tried to highlight policy differences -- but they didn't appear as wide as each candidate contends.
Former lawyer and current elementary school teacher Monica Ratliff is a union representative with United Teachers Los Angeles. But she said that doesn’t mean she would be in lock step if elected to the seven-member board of education.
“I don’t think that’s actually been indicated by my record so far,” she said.
Ratliff said seniority-based layoffs have hurt schools in poor areas that have high proportions of junior teachers -- so she thinks seniority should be less of a factor when the school district carries out layoffs.
Urban planner Antonio Sanchez, who’s never held elective office but has worked on political campaigns, agreed with Ratliff.
Both candidates, which are vying to represent the east San Fernando Valley, said teacher evaluations should include student standardized test scores.
“I value experience,” Sanchez said “but at the end of the day we should consider experience and effectiveness in the classroom.”
Support for current L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy and his policies has become a sort of litmus test for candidates. And here’s where a difference of opinion was in evidence.
“I support his policies,” Sanchez said unequivocally.
“I don’t agree with him on everything,” Ratliff said.
United Teachers Los Angeles endorsed both candidates for the primary elections in March and has stood by its endorsements.
The big money in this school board runoff is coming from independent expenditure committees funded by people who strongly support the idea of keeping Deasy as Superintendent.
UTLA’s criticism of Deasy has been consistent since the Superintendent was hired by a majority of the school board two years ago. The teachers’ union independent expenditure committee has spent no money in the race.
“I would love it if these big donations went directly to the schools because we could buy so much for each school with each of these large donations,” Ratliff said.
Over the weekend, independent expenditure committees supporting Sanchez continued to file with city officials tallies of how they're spending their donations. The most recent filings show more than $2 million spent by independent committees in the primary and runoff elections.