A snapshot look at Kayser’s positions on major LAUSD issues

Bennett Kayser

Bennett Kayser

While the LA Unified’s District 5 board incumbent, Bennett Kayser, did not make himself available for an interview with LA School Report as part of our candidate profile series, he has nonetheless played a high profile role on issues before the school board during his term in office.

With strong support from the teachers union, UTLA, Kayser is running for reelection against two challengers, Andrew Thomas and Ref Rodriguez, in what has become the nastiest of the school board races, heading into next Tuesday’s elections.

Here is what we know about Kayser, based on his voting record on major issues and his stated positions since he was first elected to the board in 2011:

Charter Schools

Kayser and his wife co-founded one of LA Unified’s charter schools, but over the years he has turned his back on them. When once they were akin to scrappy start-ups launched by community members with an interest in pioneering new teaching and learning techniques, he now contends they have become cookie-cutter, money-making operations run by corporations.

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Analysis: Graham lawsuit poses serious questions for LAUSD board

LAUSD Superintedent Ray Cortines

We’ve all seen this in person or on TV: One lawyer says something provocative or inappropriate, and the opposing lawyer leaps to his feet, saying “Objection, your honor.”

“Sustained,” says the judge. “The jury will disregard that last remark.”

After yesterday, we’re now all in the jury box, trying to figure out what to make of Scot Graham’s third and latest lawsuit against the district with his descriptions of sexual misconduct by Superintendent Ramon Cortines and the atmosphere of intimidation and sexual intemperance inside LA Unified headquarters.

We also have to decide whether unseemly remarks Graham attributes to Cortines about Monica Garcia and the rest of the board deserve to be carefully considered or summarily disregarded.

Sadly, though, in the confines of LA Unified, a school district that seldom gets out of its own way, it really doesn’t matter.

Whether true or false, the images shaped by Graham’s characterizations are hard to shake: Cortines, as a sexual predator; Cortines, describing Garcia as a “fat slovenly lesbian”; Cortines, regarding the board as a group of special interest ciphers.

Only a court can decide the veracity of such claims as they create a hostile work environment. But the possibility than even some of it might be true will linger, undermining whatever trust parents, teachers and board members have in a man who led the district as superintendent twice before, making him the board’s singular choice to succeed John Deasy last year, paying him $300,000 for an eight-month contract. 

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Morning Read: Charter group flexes muscle in LAUSD election

Charter school group is political force in L.A. Unified board election
California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates, a political action committee, has put its muscle into a race it considers crucial. Los Angeles Times

After recession cuts, LAUSD reconnects with community art groups
Los Angeles Unified’s arts education leaders took steps to renew long-dormant community partnerships with arts organizations Wednesday. KPCC

Starting early on college and career
Efforts to prepare students for college and careers are taking hold earlier and earlier, expanding beyond high school. Ed Source

LAUSD reopening libraries after recession closings
More than 200 Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school libraries have reopened in just two months, according to district officials. KPCC

Doubts raised about test for severely disabled
Some of the state’s most severely disabled students begin field testing an alternate academic performance assessment this spring. SI&A Cabinet Report

JUST IN: New lawsuit charges Cortines with sexual misconduct

Ray Cortines

Ray Cortines

Old accusations of sexual misconduct by LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines resurfaced today in a new lawsuit that includes explosive new assertions sure to cause anger, embarrassment and disruptions at district headquarters.

Scot Graham, who was hired by Cortines in 2000 to be the district’s Director of Real Estate, renewed his charges that Cortines, 82, made unwanted sexual advances toward him and that the district retaliated against him for bringing the matter before district lawyers. Graham, who is 58, made similar accusations in two previous lawsuits, based on incidents during Cortines’ first two stints as superintendent.

But this latest complaint filed in a downtown California Superior Court goes well beyond the previous lawsuits, making liberal use of graphic language in characterizing Cortines as a sexual predator who openly made derogatory and sexually-tinged comments about a number of past and present district leaders, including the district’s current chief lawyer, David Holmquist. Graham also alleges that Cortines described board member Monica Garcia as a “fat slovenly lesbian” and that senior district officials routinely had “sexual side arrangements.”

The complaint also raises a new allegation that the district failed to investigate Graham’s claims before rehiring Cortines last year to run the district for a third time as superintendent. That failure, Graham charged, has created a work atmosphere in which Graham says he feels “ongoing fear of Cortines” who “would use his power to terminate Graham for refusing Cortines’ sexual advances.”

“These matters have already been adjudicated by the court in favor of the school district and Mr. Cortines in two separate lawsuits,” Holmquist said in a statement, speaking for Cortines and the district. “This is simply a frivolous refiling of the same allegations. The details included in this complaint are intended to do nothing more than generate sensational headlines, and needlessly subject current and former leaders at the district to baseless personal attacks. The District will vigorously defend against these claims as it has done with the last two lawsuits alleging the same causes of action.

“Ensuring a hostile free work and learning environment districtwide is very important,” he added. ” We take these types of allegations seriously, and we act in accordance with the law. Courts have already determined that these claims are not actionable.”

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District 7: LAUSD school board race snapshot

LAUSD District 7 map

School board District 7, runs up a narrow swath from San Pedro at its southern tip to South LA as its northern boundary (see map here).
On the way, it encompasses parts of Wilmington, Harbor City, Carson, Harbor Gateway, Lomita, Gardena, Florence, and Watts, and is home to some of LA Unified’s historically troubled high schools including Fremont High, and Jordon High, which have undergone recent massive restructurings, and Locke High School, which underwent a major turnaround 2008. The district also includes some of the highest performing schools in LAUSD, including highly-ranked Harbor Teachers Prep Academy and many of the city’s highly-effective charter schools. In all there are 99 elementary schools, 36 middle schools and 54 high schools in LAUSD’s District 7. (See list here). Three candidates are vying for this seat.


Richard VladovicRichard Vladovic (Incumbent)

A veteran educator, Richard Vladovic is a former social studies teacher, principal and Superintendent of West Covina Unified School District with two terms under his belt on the LAUSD school board. He was first elected to the school board in 2007 with the help of then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. While he maintains strong ties with reform-minded players he won the support of board members allied with the teachers union to ascend to the position of school board president replacing reform advocate Monica Garcia 18 months ago.

Organization endorsements: SEIU-99, CA Charter School Advocates, AALA, LA Times
Cash Raised: $96,764 [reporting as of 2/14]
SuperPAC $: $82,977 [reporting as of 2/14]
Age: 70
Education: B.A. Los Angeles Harbor College; M.S., Pepperdine University; PhD, USC Rossier School of Ed, 1980 (source, smartvoter)
Ballot Designation: School Boardmember/Educator
League of Women Voters Questionnaire: What is the single most important issue facing LAUSD today? The most important issue facing LAUSD today is increasing academic achievement. Full answers here
Website: http://www.vladovic4schoolboard.com/

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Which way LAUSD? A look at the future of digital learning


By KCRW’s “Which Way L.A.?”

There won’t be an iPad for everyone after all, and School Board incumbents running for re-election are being asked to explain a massive debacle.

But, in this economy, digital education is mandatory to take proficiency tests, apply for college admission—or qualify for a lot of blue-collar employment. Can LA Unified find the money to try again, and make teachers part of the planning?

Click here to listen to the show.


Morning Read: LAUSD could lose $782 million under federal bill

L.A. schools could lose $782 million under federal bill
Republican-led effort to revise a federal education law could slash $782 million for disadvantaged students in Los Angeles Unified over six years. Los Angeles Times

Jeff Bridges encourages eating breakfast at local schools
Elementary School students in Winnetka got a visit from Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges. KAB7

High-schoolers’ excitement about voting is uplifting
In a city that hibernates through local elections, Miriam Antonio told me she couldn’t wait to vote next Tuesday. Los Angeles Times

Bid to move L.A. elections faces growing opposition from candidates
The campaign to combine Los Angeles’ elections with state and federal contests has been hailed by backers as a way to lift the city’s dismal turnout. Los Angeles Times

LA Unified’s teachers union faces test of organizing strength
The print shop below UTLA’s headquarters cranked out 7,500 signs for protestors to carry when they descend on downtown Thursday. Los Angeles Daily News

In LA, Missing Kindergarten Is A Big Deal
In Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest school district, kindergarten absence is a big problem. New England Public Radio

Gonzalez files complaint with City Ethics against Galatzan campaign

Tamar Galtatzan

Tamar Galtatzan

One of Tamar Galatzan’s challengers in the LA Unified District 3 board race said today he has filed a complaint against her with the City Ethics Commission, charging that she improperly used her board office as part of her campaign.

Filiberto Gonzalez, a former Los Angeles City planning commissioner, cited two specific instances: the use of what he believes is campaign material at a Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council meeting on Feb. 13, and the use of the district’s robocall system to notify thousands of parents about a community meeting on the budget on Feb. 17 — a date too close to the election, he argues, although he could not cite any specific law that would have prohibited it.

Gonzalez first made the robocall charge at a District 3 forum on Feb. 17 when Galatzan skipped the event to hold the community meeting.  

“As candidates, we are all required to participate in campaign ethics training,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “She cannot say it was an oversight. Even worse, as a prosecutor with the City of Los Angeles, she should know better and hold herself to a higher standard.”

A Commission spokeswoman said she could neither confirm nor deny “the existence of any complaints or investigations due to strict confidentiality rules mandated by the City Charter.”

Galatzan’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The District 3 race is the most crowded of the three contested school board elections on March 3. In seeking a third term, Galatzan is facing five challengers, most of whom have been sharply critical of her years on the board.

Gonzalez, who voted for Galatzan eight years ago, has been especially critical of her role in supporting the district’s iPad program, insisting in an interview, “She was a great supporter of the iPads even when it did not have support in our neighborhoods. It was wrong headed from the very beginning and yet she was the number one champion on that.”

District 5: LAUSD school board race snapshot

LAUSD District 5 Map LA Unified’s school board District 5, runs a tortured, ear-muff-shaped path from Los Feliz in the north, following a narrow band south, and expanding in the south to Lynwood.

Along the way it reaches parts of Echo Park, Vernon, Maywood, Huntington Park, Bell and South Gate.

With an Hispanic population of 74 percent, District 5 was originally carved in 1978 as a Latino seat, but has only been held by an Hispanic school board member four of the last 15 years. The district includes the newish $239-million Sonia M. Sotomayor Learning Academies, as well as Jefferson High, focus of the recent troubled computer overhaul known as MiSiS. The district is home to 37 charters, including US News ranked Alliance Marc & Eva Stern Math And Science. In all, there are 120 elementary schools, 42 middle schools and 41 high schools in LAUSD’s District 5. (See list here).  Three candidates are vying for this seat.


Bennett Kayser (Incumbent)

Bennett KayserA former middle school science and health teacher, Bennett Kayser was first elected to represent District 5 in 2011 in a narrowly won race with help of $1.4 million spent by the teachers union super PAC. He is considered one of the teacher’s union staunchest allies on the board.

Although Kayser and his wife co-founded of one of the district’s earliest charter schools, over the years he’s become reliably anti-charter, voting against new applications and renewals at nearly every opportunity. He was also a relentless critic of the reform policies of former superintendent John Deasy. Kayser had to recuse himself on some of the votes regarding the controversial iPad initiative because of a conflict of interest involving his ownership of Apple Inc. stock.

In his re-election bid he has once again won the support of the teachers union, which is spending big money to defend his seat while the California Charter School Association PAC has spent even more to ensure his defeat. As a result, Kayser has been the target of some odd and arguably racist ads.

Bennett Kayser declined to speak LA School Report about the election.

Organization endorsements: SEIU-99, AALA, UTLA, CSEA – 500, and the local chapter of the AFL-CIO

Cash Raised: $81,121.35 (through 2/14)

Super PAC $: $374,375.25 spent by outside groups supporting Kayser or opposing his challengers (through 2/14)

Age: 69

Education: B.A., Cal State Long Beach (1969); MA, Biology UCLA (1980)

Ballot Designation: Teacher/School Boardmember

League of Women Voters Questionnaire:  What is the single most important issue facing LAUSD today?  Did not respond.

United Way Questionnaire: Did not respond

Website: Bennett2015

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Commentary: LAUSD should try again on 1-to-1 computer goal


By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

The idea of equipping every Los Angeles Unified student and teacher with a computer suffered its final blow with the announcement last week that the school district simply couldn’t afford to buy some 700,000 of them. If ever a proposal was half-baked, it was the iPad project, which was marked by a lamentable lack of planning, grave concerns over the enormous price tag, and an ongoing criminal grand jury investigation into possible ethics violations on the part of district officials.

Morning Read: In defense of No Child Left Behind testing

Commentary: NCLB and testing help hold schools accountable
Even if the NCLB bathwater needs changing, our kids are not likely to learn more if schools and teachers are not held accountable. Los Angeles Times

New online training aims to ferret out child abuse cases
Public school employees can take their required annual training to spot child abuse or neglect online, Tom Torlakson announced Monday. KPCC

Deasy, iPads key issues in LAUSD school board campaigns
Los Angeles Unified’s troubled iPad project and former superintendent are framing discussions in the March 3 school board primary. Los Angeles Daily News

Schools’ reliance on suspension, expulsion isn’t necessary, report finds
The report also found evidence of huge ‘discipline gaps’ when it comes to suspension rates for minorities and students with disabilities. Christian Science Monitor

Bill would give live-in workers rights to area schools
The law governing school residency would be expanded to include children whose parent resides at least three days a week at their place of employment. SI&A Cabinet Report

More conflict over cutting federal role in education
Congress and the White House on Monday inched toward a confrontation over the federal role in education. New York Times

LA Unified’s computer test run encounters — surprise! — glitches

computer-errorIf you thought LA Unified’s practice-run of the Smarter Balanced test last week would go smoothly, think again. But district officials insist the blame is not entirely the district’s fault.

The state “Readiness Test” site, which was specifically designed for students to access the practice exam, crashed Thursday when state personnel tried logging into the system.

“It just couldn’t handle the volume,” Ellen Morgan, a district spokeswoman, told LA School Report.

That’s troubling, considering only a fraction of LA Unified students attempted to take the practice test last week. The so-called “dress rehearsal” only required one class per school to take the test. About 340,000 students are expected to take the exam in the spring.

But the state’s web site failure is no cause for alarm, says Cynthia Lim, head of LA Unified’s Office of Data and Accountability.

“Students will be taking the real test on a secured browser,” she told LA School Report.

Lim said the district is not concerned about the testing web site because “students will be accessing the test via the secure browser and there were few glitches during the field test last year.”

In a similar trial run last year, several schools reported problems connecting to the internet and accessing the test questions. Few students were able to complete either the English or math section of the test.

Schools were asked to complete a survey after the test last week but district officials say the results have not been tabulated.

“We will have statistics later in the week on the number of schools that were able to access the practice test,” Lim said. Overall, she added, the goal of the  practice test was to test to our capacity and to allow our students to obtain more familiarity with the SBA. This dress rehearsal as a good trial for the district.”


District 3: LAUSD school board race snapshot

LAUSD District 3 Map


School board District 3 covers most of the western San Fernando valley from the Ventura county line to the 405 on its eastern boarder, with a cutout to include some of the tonier neighborhoods in the east valley. The district includes Chatsworth, parts of Woodland Hills, Northridge, Granda Hills, parts of Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks.

In all, there are 120 elementary schools, 42 middle schools and 41 high schools in LAUSD’s District 3. (See list here). Six candidates are vying for this seat.


Tamar Galatzan at Tuesday's LAUSD school board meeting

Tamar Galatzan (Incumbent)

Tamar Galatzan was first elected to the board in 2007 and has also worked as a prosecutor for the city of Los Angeles since 2002. She is a parent of two LAUSD students. While she has a reputation as a pro-charter, pro-reform movement board member and strong supporter of former Superintendent John Deasy, she also has a fiery independent streak, which was noted in her endorsement by the Los Angeles Times.

Organization Endorsements: California Charter School Association, the local chapter of the AFL-CIO, LA Times, SEIU Local 99.
Cash Raised: $35,714 (through 2/14)
SuperPAC $: $206,836.54 (through 2/14)
Age: 45
Education: J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law (1994);     B.A. in political science, UCLA, magna cum laude (1991)
Ballot Designation: School board member/Prosecutor
League of Women Voters Questionnaire: What is the single most important issue facing LAUSD today? The budget is unquestionably the most critical issue. Full answers here
United Way Questionnaire: Full answers here.
Website: Tamar2015.com

Elizabeth Badger ThumbElizabeth Badger

Elizabeth Badger is a parent of two LAUSD students, and this is her third run at public office in two years. She owns an automotive business in the San Fernando Valley and is CEO/Founder of Minority Outreach Committee, Inc. a nonpartisan non-profit. She is also a member of the Winnetka Neighborhood Council, the Los Angeles African American Women Political Outreach and was a delegate at the 2008 and the 2012 Democratic National Conventions.

Organization Endorsements:  None
Cash Raised: $14,804 (through 2/14)
SuperPAC $: None
Age: not stated
Education:  BA and MA in Political Science from CSUN; Graduate of USC’s Public Policy Institute
Ballot Designation: Children’s Advocate/Businesswoman
League of Women Voters Questionnaire: What is the single most important issue facing LAUSD today? Failing Education System. Full answers here.
United Way Questionnaire: Full answers here. 
Website: http://elizabethbadger.net

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Commentary: How to end ‘teaching to the test’


By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

When U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last year that the incessant focus on testing was “sucking the oxygen” out of public school classrooms, his statement seemed like a pointed criticism of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and of his own long-standing policies. For the last 14 years, the law has pressured public schools to raise scores in math and reading; that in turn has led schools to “teach to the test” — and to administer increasing numbers of interim tests throughout the year, as schools and individual teachers have tried to determine whether students are on track to score well on the all-important year-end exams.

But it turned out that Duncan wasn’t saying what critics of No Child Left Behind had hoped: that there should be fewer standardized tests, which are taken annually in grades three through eight and once in high school. Instead, Duncan proposed giving states incentives to get rid of other “redundant and low-quality” exams. The problem is that as long as there are annual high-stakes tests, schools are going to prepare for them with their own tests.

Click here to read the full story.

Analysis: A big week for the teachers to demonstrate what they want

UTLA rally at James Monroe High School Nov. 20, 2014

UTLA rally at James Monroe High School Nov. 20, 2014

“Most of our early escalation tactics are about building solidarity among members, because a 35,000 member union can’t win a fight against the corporate education ‘reformers’ lined up against us with anything less than 35,000 members active in the fight.”

That’s what it says on the UTLA website, which makes this a critical week for teachers in their fight for a bigger raise than LA Unified is offering so far.

Scheduled for Thursday is the latest of the teacher union’s “escalating actions,” a rally planned for downtown called, “Making Our Stand at Grand,” a reference to the downtown location. It’s a chance for the union to stand up to the district with a show of unity and resolve.

But it represents something else, as well, coming at a time negotiations for a new contract have gone nowhere, with both sides calling in a mediator and Superintendent Ramon Cortines, as he did on Friday, affirming his belief that closing a $160 million deficit takes preference over giving UTLA more than the 5 percent raise on the table.

Thursday is a also referendum on the Union Power leadership team led by President Alex Caputo-Pearl, whose ascension to office last year was built on the possible need of a final showdown, of sorts, with a district that has made teachers collateral damage in the nation’s long recession.

For nearly eight years, teachers have soldiered on, enduring layoffs and furloughs without so most as a Christmas turkey, let alone a cost of living raise.

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Morning Read: Task force wants big changes to special ed

Sweeping change set for special education services
A blue ribbon panel shared 44 specific recommendations aimed ultimately at improving academic outcomes for students with disabilities. SI&A Cabinet Report

Critics say EPA played dual role in recycled tire controversy
The EPA has terminated its longtime campaign to promote the use of recycled tires on artificial turf fields and playgrounds. San Francisco Chronicle

Expelled in preschool
Preschoolers are expelled at three times the rate of their older peers. The Hechinger Report

More students snub standardized exams
The backlash is kicking into high gear this spring as millions of students start taking new, more rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards. Huffington Post

Infants to return to SaMo High School daycare after measles scare
More than a dozen infants exposed to a baby with measles at a Santa Monica day care center will be allowed to return to the facility Monday. CBS Los Angeles

Miramonte teacher resigns in advance of hearing over job
A teacher who became a figure in the Miramonte Elementary child abuse case resigned Friday from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Los Angeles Times

Cortines says deficit is cutting programs, jobs and teacher raises

Ramon Cortines Dec. 9, 2014LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines had a stern warning today for the LA teachers union as well as for the district, itself:

Not only are teachers not getting the salary increases they have been demanding in the now stalled contract negotiations, he said, but with a remaining budget deficit of $160 million, he has already begun cutting programs for next year. Layoffs, he said, are next.

What’s most likely to be cut? “Everything!” Cortines said. “I have been meeting with all of the divisions to reduce our expenses.”

Cortines’s announcement came in a rare meeting with reporters who cover LA Unified. It was a startling message, given the steady insistence by the teachers union, UTLA, that new state money coming into the district this year would be enough to give teachers a sizable raise after none for nearly eight years.

But Cortines was having none of it: Just hours earlier, he said, he approved a 10 percent cut in a single department although he would not say which one. He also repeated his expectation that LA Unified students will have access to technology but not necessary through the one-to-one program created by former Superintendent John Deasy designed to give every student a laptop or digital tablet.

“As I have stated before publicly, we are committed to providing technology to our children—whether it be desktop computer labs, laptops or tablets—to help prepare them for the 21st century,” Cortines said in a statement hours later issued by the district to amplify his position. “However, as we are reviewing our lessons learned, there must be a balanced approach to spending bond dollars to buy technology when there are so many brick and mortar and other critical facility needs that must be met.”

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‘Do the Write Thing’ winners tell tales of bullets and bullies

Do the Write Thing Challenge winner Destiny Lopez (L) and Lori Vollandt

Student Destiny Lopez (L) and Lori Vollandt at Tuesday’s LA Unified school board Committee of the Whole meeting

Those attending this week’s meeting of the LA Unified school board’s Committee of the Whole got a sobering reminder of the horrific levels of violence some of the district’s students live with as Destiny Lopez, a 9th grader at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, stepped to the microphone and read from her winning Do the Write Thing Challenge essay.

“My father, as a result of being a gang member, became a quadriplegic, meaning he can’t move from the neck down as a result of him having been shot three times — once in his eyebrow, once in his upper lip and once in his arm, which is the one that did the most damage,” she said.

But the violence “didn’t stop there. There’s no one in the world who can stop all the violence in the world,” she added, explaining that her uncle, who was also a member of the same gang, was shot and killed. (See the full video of Lopez reading her essay below.)

Lopez and 8th grader David Berecca were the 2014 challenge winners chosen from LA Unified. Thirty communities across the country participated in the essay contest, which was launched in 1994. As part of the National Campaign to Stop Violence, it asks middle school students to write about how violence impacts them.

Two “national ambassadors” from each community visited the Library of Congress in Washington D. C. last summer to read their essays, which were printed and entered into the record.

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Bill would give summer benefits to school classified employees

cafeteria workerA new state bill introduced by Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas would allow classified school employees to apply for unemployment benefits over the summer.

Assembly Bill 399 would impact a wide array of school employees, including bus drivers, special education assistants, cafeteria workers and other classified school workers who under current law are not allowed to apply for benefits, according to a press release from SEIU Local 99, the union that represents LA Unified’s classified employees.

SEIU represents approximately 45,000 school employees in the greater Los Angeles area. There are currently around 215,000 classified employees working in California public schools and community colleges, according to the Classified School Employees Association.

The law currently prohibits classified employees from receiving summer benefits, and they are the only seasonal workers prohibited by California law from doing so, according to SEIU, separating them from people who work as sports stadium employees and farm workers.

“During the academic year, in school districts throughout California, classified school employees serve our children and support their learning with deep passion, commitment and hard work,” Ridley-Thomas, who represents a mid-city district in Los Angeles, said in a statement. “Yet, during the summer months when many schools are not in session, these dedicated education workers often struggle to pay their rent and feed their own children. This legislation begins a dialogue about correcting an inequity in our state’s current unemployment insurance system.”

The new bill would  recognize “the difference between the principal and the lunch lady,”  because “current law is based on the rationale that all school workers — from administrators to teachers to cafeteria workers  — earn enough during the school year to cover the three month summer recess period,” according to SEIU.

“Many school workers who have chosen to commit their life’s work to helping educate our children are forced to live in an endless cycle of debt and poverty,” said SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias in a statement. “We must do more to ensure school jobs are good jobs by improving wages, increasing full time work, expanding summer school, and ensuring school workers have access to unemployment benefits when they need them.”


Challenging Kayser, Rodriguez led all candidates in recent fundraising

Ref Rodriguez

Ref Rodriguez

Ref Rodriguez, the charter school administrator who is challenging incumbent Bennett Kayser for LA Unified’s District 5 board seat, raised the most money of any board candidate since the last reporting period, $51,772, according to the latest figures posted by the City Ethics Commission.

Carl Petersen, one of five candidates challenging incumbent Tamar Galatzan in District 3, raised the least, $25.

While not dispositive of anything, the latest figures provide a sense of whose message is resonating with individual donors. The latest numbers reflect money raised from Jan. 17 through Feb. 14.

Clearly the District 5 race, which has been fueled by campaign material many view as objectionable, has energized donors the most. A second challenger to Kayser, Andrew Thomas, raised the second-highest amount of any non-incumbent in the district’s three contested elections, $26,056.

Kayser raised only $10,178. But money spent on his behalf by outside groups, most of it from the LA teachers union, UTLA, increased by another $42,603. An additional $29,464, almost all of it from the California Charter Schools Association, was spent for Rodriguez.

The charter group spent another $25,230 for Kayser attack material.

Among District 7 candidates, board President Richard Vladovic far out-paced his two rivals in raising money for the period. He got $28,897 in donations, compared with $9,125 for Lydia Gutierrez and $6,782 for Euna Anderson. The charter group and SEIU 99, the service workers union, also spent $82,977 to help Vladovic.

In District 3, Galatzan had a clear advantage in fund raising over her opponents, raising $21,409. Next were Scott Schmerelson, $12,780; Filberto Gonzalez, $6,616; Elizabeth Badger, $2,315; Ankur Patel, $1,627; and Petersen.

With the March 3 elections approaching, Galatzan is best positioned for campaign spending with $21,109 in cash remaining, more than twice any of her challengers. Rodriguez has $42,672, about eight times what Kayser has. In District 7, Anderson, who loaned her campaign $45,000, has $25,049 cash remaining, a bit more than twice Vladovic’s $11,218.