Reprinted from AALA Update on August 18, 2014
AALA extends congratulations to Dr. George McKenna on his election to become the Board of Education Member representing District 1. Dr. McKenna is filling the seat that has been vacant since the death of Marguerite LaMotte in December 2013. This marks the fifth AALA-endorsed candidate to win a seat on the LAUSD Board. Dr. McKenna joins fellow AALA- supported colleagues Bennett Kayser, Mónica Ratliff, Dr. Richard Vladovic and Steve Zimmer.
In an election that pitted a veteran educator against an inexperienced politician, with only eight percent of those eligible voting, it is noteworthy that the deep pockets/outside interests were again unsuccessful in their bid to control the outcome. This is, fortunately, becoming a trend in the LAUSD Board of Education races. So-called education reformers and charter school advocates from around the country have poured millions of dollars into these local campaigns in an effort to privatize the second largest school district in the country. It is a testament to the influence of local administrators, teachers, other employees and community groups that voters were not swayed by all of the glossy, negative campaign material distributed by Dr. McKenna’s opponent.
It is unfortunate that young, inexperienced political aspirants are being used to further the interests of corporate reformers. We have seen this in the last three Board elections, most notably, with the election of AALA-supported Mónica Ratliff and Steve Zimmer, who were both opposed by candidates who had little experience or knowledge, but lots of money from Independent Expenditure Campaigns. In this current election, George McKenna spent about one-fourth of the amount that his opponent expended, yet he was able to maintain nearly the same solid showing that was garnered in the primary. Let this be a lesson that the voters of Los Angeles will not succumb to the smear campaigning that is fueled by donations from those who do not live in the community, have no children in the schools and no vested interest in improving the lives of the students of LAUSD.
Dr. McKenna will immediately assume his position on the Board of Education, while at the same time begin a campaign for reelection in the spring. We look forward to working with him and know that he will be a voice for the students, parents and employees of the District. As we begin a new school year, we are pleased that Mrs. LaMotte’s seat at the Board table will now be filled. The new Local Control Funding Formula has brought additional revenue to the District, as well as more accountability. The expenditure of the new funds must be scrutinized and used for the children it is supposed to target. We must not only focus on their instruction, but also their safety and well-being. AALA continues to seek a reduction in administrators’ cumbersome workload, including the time-consuming teacher evaluation system currently in place. Stringent oversight of the Common Core Technology Project and the implementation of the MiSiS data system are needed as both initiatives move forward. We know that Dr. McKenna will hit the ground running. We welcome him back and look forward to working with him.