Commentary: Clear Choice for School Board Race
LA School Report | May 6, 2013
This is a guest commentary from LAUSD District 6 teachers Pearl Arredondo and Hector (@educatorla) Perez-Roman, following up on a recent TeachPlus meeting with candidate Monica Ratliff:
With so much at stake for the LAUSD Board District 6 runoff election, it was surprising that only one candidate, Monica Ratliff, attended the only scheduled public candidates’ forum sponsored by Teach Plus Los Angeles.
Where was Antonio Sanchez? In the midst of heavy school reform and transformation across our district, state, and the nation, this forum had the potential to provide those in attendance a clear picture on the candidates’ positions on issues that will ultimately have profound changes on our students, teachers, and the community of the northeast San Fernando Valley.
Instead, those in attendance had an opportunity to have a genuine discussion with Monica Ratliff, a current LAUSD elementary teacher, as she fielded questions from teachers, community members, parents, and LAUSD’s “Beaudry” officials.
As Monica laid out her vision for school reform, local autonomy, the role of the principal, the importance of professional development, and class sizes we kept thinking, what about Antonio Sanchez’s position?
At first, we thought Mr. Sanchez’s absence from this event meant we would not hear his message. However, his underlying message was loud and clear. After all, the Coalition for School Reform, led by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa (with help from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has contributed $350,000), claims that students are at the forefront of their agenda.
It begs the question, what has Antonio Sanchez done for education or for the LAUSD? He was a special assistant to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, then attended graduate school at UCLA where he gained his credibility for being a teaching assistant, but he has never actually worked for an LAUSD school. How has he become an expert or an effective decision maker on what our students need?
On the other hand, Monica, who has a decade of teaching experience and school leadership, presented a clear vision of “collaboration” amongst teachers, “creating partnerships” to keep vocational and arts programs in places of high need, and reframing the role of principals to have withstanding “connections with students in the
classroom.” She used this opportunity as a call-to-action to vocalize the shift from political hopscotch to real student-centered decision-making.
In a board district that has been historically underserved, Monica understands the challenges and has a clear vision of educational equity that reaches far beyond the confines of Board District 6 and reaches the students across the second largest school district in the nation. A generation of learners should not have to suffer because a candidate has political ambition and friends with deep pockets. In a time when we are seeing cuts across the district, affecting everything from early education to class sizes, we want someone who will be a consistent decision-maker.
We want someone who understands the needs of the district because they wake up every day to the faces of students who are impacted by a bureaucracy that has lost its connection to the families we serve. We want someone who will not only embrace innovation, autonomy, and thinking outside the box, but will help to ensure that our students will be competitive thinkers and global contributors. Monica is a teacher who has invested and dedicated the last decade to public education. She has a clear vision that will guide her decisions based on the needs of our students.
On May 21st, think of the students who continue to leave our public schools not prepared. Think of the overcrowded classrooms that plague our schools. Think about how you would want your school to be run, by a Manchurian candidate whose bidders influence the decisions, or by Monica Ratliff, a teacher and a dedicated public servant who continues to be the advocate for the students of our community. The choice is clear.
Pearl Arredondo, a sixth grade English and history teacher, attended Pepperdine University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Psychology and a Master of Arts in Education and Instructional Leadership.
Hector Perez-Roman is a National Board Certified teacher at Arleta High School. He teaches tenth grade World History, sponsors the Student Traveling Club, and partners with Smithsonian Student Travel and Education First to offer engaging learning opportunities for all his students.