By Kerry Cavanaugh, Columnist - LA Daily News
12/23/2010 - On Tuesday, I wrote about the pathetically low turnout in Los Angeles City Council races. Someone can be elected to the council, earn $179,000 a year and manage a staff of 20 with fewer than 5,000 votes.
But the picture is much worse when it comes to the Los Angeles Unified District Board of Education elections. In some races, just 4 percent of registered voters bother to fill out a ballot for the winning candidate.
These are the people who oversee the nation's second-largest school district and make the policy and financial decisions that affect the education of some 678,000 children and teenagers. Yet, the vast majority of parents of the children enrolled in Los Angeles public schools don't vote for board members.
On March 8, four of the seven seats on the Board of Ed are up for grabs. Here is my Christmas wish. May you vote in the March election – especially if you are an LAUSD parent, but even if you're not.
All elections are important, but this one is particularly critical. With the state funding for education likely to be cut again this coming year, the LAUSD board will face difficult choices about what programs get funded and what jobs get cut.
Likewise, there's a strong reform movement in L.A., and the LAUSD board will make key decisions, such as whether student test scores should affect teacher evaluations and who should run local schools – the district or charter organizations.
These decisions could dramatically change public schools in L.A. in a matter of years, and if you have children or care about children, then you have a stake LAUSD governance.
But so few people vote in school board races – it's almost as if Angelenos have already written off the LAUSD, which would be a terrible mistake.
Here are the winning results from the 2007 and 2009 elections – odd number seats were elected in 2007 and even numbered seats in 2009.:
● District 1/Central L.A. – Marguerite Poindexter Lamotte: 18,167 votes, or 6 percent of registered voters
● District 2/Downtown and East L.A. – Monica Garcia: 22,123 votes, or 13 percent of registered voters
● District 3/West and south San Fernando Valley – Tamar Galatzan: 23,406 votes, or 7 percent of registered voters
● District 4/West L.A. and Hollywood – Steve Zimmer: 31,281 votes, or 8 percent of registered voters
● District 5/East L.A. to South Gate – Yolie Flores Aguilar: 9,674, or 4 percent of registered voters
● District 6/east San Fernando Valley – Nury Martinez: 14,584 votes, or 7 percent of registered voters ● District 7/South L.A. to the Harbor area – Richard Vladovic: 9,366 votes, or 4 percent of registered voters
Kerry Cavanaugh is an editorial writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News.
smf: Cavanauagh has it exactly right. And in addition to the budget challenges the next Board of Ed must address the selection and/or ratification of the next superintendent and the redistricting of board districts. This last is especially important as the current board seems to be taking a more and more politically territorial approach to "their" board districts, looking at them less as electoral constituent parts of the bigger district and more as as politico-educational fiefdoms.("My schools")