Education

KPCC's LA school board candidate survey: Mónica García, District 2

Mónica García is running for re-election to the Los Angeles Unified School Board in the March 7 primary election. García currently represents District 2, which runs from Koreatown through much of east L.A.
Mónica García is running for re-election to the Los Angeles Unified School Board in the March 7 primary election. García currently represents District 2, which runs from Koreatown through much of east L.A.
Campaign Photo

Mónica García is running for re-election to the Los Angeles Unified School Board in the March 7 primary election. García currently represents District 2, which runs from Koreatown through much of east L.A.

García is one of three candidates running for the District 2 seat. Click here to view survey responses from other candidates in the race.

KPCC lightly edited all responding candidates' answers for spelling, grammar and style. KPCC is presenting candidates' answers in full, but does not vouch for the accuracy of any statements they make. Here are García's responses to KPCC's candidate survey:

Why do you want to be a member of the L.A. Unified School Board?

I want to be a school board member at L.A. Unified because we have made a difference in children’s lives. I am part of a coalition that has been successful at increasing graduation, reducing suspensions and dropouts and we are proud of our progress but we are not done. We know education interrupts poverty. We know we can be the top urban district in the country. We have more to do – children are counting on us.

Superintendent Michelle King is in her thirteenth month in the district’s top job. On an A-F scale, how would you grade her first year? Please explain your answer.

Superintendent Michelle King won the rookie of the year award for superintendents. She receives an A- on an A-F scale, with high marks for effort, high marks for pushing an all hands on deck A-G completion at L.A Unified, where she took us from 54 percent to 75 percent in June. She models the vision walking; a graduate, a parent, an employee of the district who is calling on everyone to help us move us to 100 percent graduation. 

Please name one idea or policy you don’t see Superintendent King, district leaders or the school board discussing often enough that — if elected — you’d work on either implementing or expanding in L.A. Unified?

I’ve been on the board for 10 years and I still feel the district can do more to figure out how to accelerate the pace of change. More kids need to read at grade level, more parents need to be informed of options, more leaders need to be supported as they choose to create strategies and polices to help their children. We can do more, we must move faster.

Do you believe expanding “school choice” policies (giving parents more ability to choose the school their child attends) is a force for eliminating or exacerbating the educational opportunity gap between privileged and less-privileged racial, linguistic or socioeconomic groups? Please explain your rationale.

Choice is a powerful force in life and school choice absolutely helps parents make the best decision for their child. We have to bring equity to the school district and, therefore, increasing options for parents, increasing the power of parents, increasing high quality across the district, absolutely works to eliminate the disparities that we see across town.

How, if at all, would you change L.A. Unified’s approach to “authorizing” and overseeing charter schools? (Your answer may touch on any facet of the relationship — from vetting applications to open new charter schools; renewing or revoking existing charters; monitoring charter schools’ performance, governance and finance; handling Prop. 39 campus-sharing arrangements.)

I would love to see every school in L.A Unified come before the board and talk about the plan for the next five years. Charters in particular should talk about how they are impacting neighborhoods and working with community-based organizations and other schools. At the end of the day, if we all feel like we are one community, we are serving the kids and families of a certain region, we can be successful

L.A. Unified faces long-term financial challenges, including declining enrollment and rising costs for pensions and employee benefits. A blue-ribbon panel in Nov. 2015 also highlighted further issues that cloud the district’s financial future. If elected, what immediate steps would you take to address these financial challenges?

Our financial outlook absolutely will require a team approach of experienced, committed and dedicated public servants. We need more investment in the schools of California, period. What we have today is not adequate. Looking forward to the next 10 years and looking at the challenges on our finance. Number 1: We have to increase achievement. Number 2: We have to be willing to change. Number 3: We have to bring our partners together, help them understand what it will take to preserve benefits and build the district everybody wants to be a part of. We have made small steps towards progress; we have a lot more to do. 

The L.A. Unified board has set a district-wide goal of a 100 percent high school graduation rate. How, if at all, would you change the district’s approach to meeting this goal? (Or would you change the goal itself?)

Our community has demanded 100 percent percent graduation for decades. The fact that LAUSD has accepted that mission, that responsibility, reflects a belief in every kid, every family, every school and every community. It is the right goal; we must accelerate the pace towards reaching it. We have to continue to decentralize and personalize. Understanding the needs of each child helps us provide the services they need to reach their goals to be college-ready, career-prepared, to do the most they can in life, and build the strongest Los Angeles that we can.

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KPCC lightly edited all responding candidates' answers for spelling, grammar and style. KPCC is presenting candidates' answers in full, but does not vouch for the accuracy of any statements they make.