So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LAUSD election: high stakes in historically low-turnout contest

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Three of four LAUSD school board contests in the March 3 primary election feature challengers to incumbents.

Three of seven Los Angeles Unified School District board members are facing challengers on primary election day, March 3, and the stakes are especially high this time.

The next board will select a new superintendent, among Los Angeles' most influential public officials. Board members also must balance a $7.5 billion operating budget and make decisions on iPads in the classroom, testing based on new Common Core standards, teacher evaluations, and declining student populations in traditional classrooms while charter enrollment expands.

It’s an election weighing heavily on the mind of Huntington Park High School teacher April Parker, especially as it impacts the selection of the next superintendent.

“How important is the head to the body? Whatever the tone of the leader is, it trickles down into the schools,” Parker said, toting a briefcase full of essays to grade.

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LAUSD school board candidate survey: Tamar Galatzan (District 3)

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Photo from Tamar Galatzan's Facebook

Three contested Los Angeles Unified School District board seats are up for a vote in the March 3 Los Angeles city primary election.

KPCC surveyed the candidates for their thoughts and priorities on key issues facing the district. Here are candidate Tamar Galatzan's responses. (For information on other school board candidates as well as City Council candidates, visit KPCC's Los Angeles 2015 voter guide.)

1. What's the first issue you will tackle while in office? 

I have been a strong advocate for technology since I joined the school board in 2007, and it remains a critical need for our students and teachers. I have invested my bond money in building computer labs and buying devices for my schools. But we have to ensure that every student in the district has regular access to technology, and that our teachers are trained to use it as an instructional tool. At the same time, we must continue to focus on the full implementation of MiSiS. The success of this system is key to streamlining our record-keeping system and creating a platform for increasing parent involvement in their children’s education.

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LAUSD school board candidate survey: Bennett Kayser (District 5)

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Photo from Bennett Kayser's Twitter account

Three contested Los Angeles Unified School District board seats are up for a vote in the March 3 Los Angeles city primary election.

KPCC surveyed the candidates for their thoughts and priorities on key issues facing the district. Here are candidate Bennett Kayser's responses. (For information on other school board candidates as well as City Council candidates, visit KPCC's Los Angeles 2015 voter guide.)

1. What's the first issue you will tackle while in office? 

Class size reduction. As a middle school teacher at Irving Middle School and as a Board Member I have fought tirelessly to provide our students with the best learning environments possible. We must decrease class sizes so that our teachers are given the best opportunities available to enrich the lives of our children. We must also be very data-orientated in our approach in that we must create strategic class size reduction. 9th grade math is a historically plagued by large class sizes and there is a strong correlation that students who do not pass 9th grade math have a higher propensity to not graduating on time.

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LAUSD school board candidate survey: Filiberto Gonzalez (District 3)

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Courtesy of Filiberto Gonzalez

Three contested Los Angeles Unified School District board seats are up for a vote in the March 3 Los Angeles city primary election.

KPCC surveyed the candidates for their thoughts and priorities on key issues facing the district. Here are candidate Filiberto Gonzalez' responses. (For information on other school board candidates as well as City Council candidates, visit KPCC's Los Angeles 2015 voter guide.)

1. What's the first issue you will tackle while in office? 

Will work with my colleagues to identify waste and duplicative administrative expenses that do not have an impact in the classroom. I believe we can cut or freeze 10% from the non-instruction administration budget in the short-term. These funds will go back to the classroom and to fully staff schools (e.g. bring back librarians, etc.).

This first issue is part of my overarching goal to put students' needs first. My two oldest daughters attend our neighborhood LAUSD elementary school; I know firsthand that more often than not LAUSD is unwelcoming to its stakeholders. I will work with my colleagues to make student-centered decisions and create a new tone that is much friendlier toward our most important partners in academic achievement: parents and teachers.

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LAUSD teachers to learn visual arts and cultural history integration

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A new grant-funded project aims to improve student achievement for some Los Angeles Unified students by integrating visual arts with the study of African-American and Latino cultural history.

Los Angeles Unified School District and Loyola Marymount University have received a million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education giving teachers an opportunity to learn how to weave instruction on black and Latino culture into teaching the visual arts. 

The Los Angeles Unified school board approved the grant contract this week. The vote marked the end of a lengthy process to write the grant, completed last spring, and finalize the award, which the Department of Education did in December. 

The $1,165,629 grant's first phase will be implemented this summer at Loyola Marymount University — the college is collaborating with LAUSD on the grant project.

"Teachers will understand how they can implement visual arts into the context of their cultural history instruction," said Loyola Marymount University's Darin Earley, co-director of the project.

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