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

LAUSD school board candidate survey: Carl Petersen (District 3)

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Courtesy of Carl Petersen

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 Carl Petersen'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 am a father of five, with my four school-age children enrolled in the LAUSD. Two of my daughters are on the autism spectrum and about two years ago they both reached a point where they were not making progress. After researching our options we presented a plan to their teachers and the other staff at their schools. The education professionals agreed that these plans might work but informed us that they could not write them into our daughters’ education plans - it was against district policy. During our two day battle fighting the bureaucracy downtown (a bureaucracy that never had any interaction with our children), I decided to run for the LAUSD School Board so that I can change the system.

The first issue that I will tackle when taking office is dismantling the top-down management of the district that stifles innovation and prevents local school communities from customizing education to meet the unique needs of their students. Parents should never have to go through what I did to get to get educational services for their children that professionals at their local school agree that they need. The district needs to set expectations and get out of the way so that parents, teachers and other school staff can work together to implement the plans to meet these goals. This decentralized approach is the only thing that can save the LAUSD from collapsing under the weight of its size.

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LAUSD school board candidate survey: Ankur Patel (District 3)

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Courtesy of Ankur Patel

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 Ankur Patel'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? 

My entire focus is to make sure taxpayer money is used efficiently and effectively to educate our young people. I can tackle this enormous issue by starting with the budget. The current LAUSD budget is too complex making it difficult to follow the money. I will make the budget more transparent and accessible so that community members, teachers, and parents can find out how much money is supposed to be going to their local school, how much is being spent outside of the classroom, and how much money we have wasted. By opening up the budget, we can refocus resources back to where they belong – the classroom.

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LAUSD school board candidate survey: Scott Mark Schmerelson (District 3)

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Photo from campaign website

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 Scott Mark Schmerelson'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? 

Reducing class size is my first priority. My goal is to have our LAUSD students receive the best education possible. Last semester I was working as a retired administrator and retired Spanish teacher. I taught Spanish at Cleveland High School. My class enrollment was between 42-45 students. It was very difficult to get to to converse, interact and reach out to every student in that classroom. I could hardly move around the room myself. Students need to be able to form groups and move around during the class time for different activities. This was not possible and unfair to my students.

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Policy kicking out students with low grades comes under scrutiny

An empty classroom

BES Photos/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

State law prohibits public charter schools from dismissing students whose grade-point averages fall below a certain threshold.

To enroll in the Public Safety Academy in San Bernardino, students had to submit satisfactory scores from California standardized English and math tests and, to stay in, maintain a 2.0 grade point average.

Both policies violate state law because the academy is a public charter school, according to lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Charter schools are exempt from most laws in the Education Code, but the laws that apply say they have to admit all students,” said ACLU lawyer Jessica Price, and they must “serve all students who wish to attend.”

The admission policies of the school, which prepares students for public safety careers such as police work, are found in the student handbook. Efforts to dismiss students with low grades were evident in school documents obtained by the ACLU.

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LAUSD school board candidates weigh in on arts education

School Bonds - 6 arts education music

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Nine of 13 Los Angeles Unified school board candidates filled out a new survey that shows where they stand on arts education issues.

The nonprofit advocacy group Arts for LA has published survey responses from Los Angeles Unified school board candidates that give a glimpse into where they stand on arts education issues. 

Eleven out of 13 school board candidates responded to the survey.

RELATED: Old, broken LAUSD musical instruments holding back some students

The candidates responding largely support arts education, but the nonprofit's advocacy manager Cristina Pacheco said what the school board needs are members who can turn support into action. 

"Part of the role of the board is to provide financial oversight and really make critical budget decisions," Pacheco said. She said the next school board will largely decide how much arts instruction the district's 650,000 students will receive. "They serve a really critical role."

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