A grand plan by Steve Zimmer and Bennett Kayser to put a student voice on the LA Unified School Board hit a road block today when the board accepted the idea in principle but delayed adopting a plan for how to do it.
In a 50-minute debate, board member Tamar Galatzan was the first to lead the charge against their Student Engagement and Empowerment resolution, which would have required Superintendent John Deasy to develop a plan that included a seven member student advisory board and a district-wide student Congress.
But the effort went down in a 4-2 vote over objections to doing anything more than acknowledging the certainty of creating a student advisory position for the board something during the 2014-2015 academic year.
“I don’t know why we need to create this giant bureaucracy of student advice when the education code is much simpler,” said Galatzan, who voted with Monica Garcia, Monica Ratliff and Board President RIchard Vladovic to defeat the resolution.
Garcia quickly proposed an alternative approach: Accept the petition presented to the board — 1,500 student signatures calling for the addition of a student representative, as required by the California education code — and authorize Deasy to recommend within 120 days the best way to accomplish the effort.
That was passed, 5-1, with Zimmer as the holdout.
After the board meeting, Zimmer told LA School Report, he was disappointed in his colleagues who chose to meet only the minimum standards required by the state.
“I hope that the students who participated in the process don’t feel deflated by democracy,” he said. And he encouraged them to view it as a partial victory.
“The good news,” he said, “is that there will be a student here and that’s going to make this a better board of education.”