Wednesday, July 30, 2014


by Vanessa Romo, LA Schools Report |

Steve Zimmer George McKenna

Steve Zimmer, with George McKenna to his right.

Posted on July 29, 2014 11:33 am   ::  Endorsements in the District 1 school board race continued to pile up today as two LA Unified board members jumped on the George McKenna bandwagon, and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa weighed in for Alex Johnson.

Steve Zimmer and Bennett Kayser appeared at a news conference outside City Hall this morning to offer their strong support for McKenna, the former administrator who won the June primary.

Villaraigosa announced his endorsement through a campaign release from Johnson, the education aide to LA Country Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who finished second.

The candidates are now facing each other in an Aug. 12 runoff election.

Calling McKenna “one of the most esteemed public educators in recent LA history,” Zimmer said he was disturbed at campaign mailers from Johnson that called into question McKenna’s effectiveness as an administrator.

“I couldn’t stand idly by and let it happen,” he told LA School Report at the gathering. “So I’m getting involved.”

Kayser said he, too, was motivated by the fliers, saying, “I was going to stay out of the campaign. Then I saw the fliers sent out. attacking him. I felt I can’t stand back.”

In his remarks, McKenna emphasized his decades of experience as an administrator, telling the crowd, “All I’m trying to do is continue my commitment for all of these years. Somebody else might think they are in a contest, trying to win something. I’m just trying to continue my commitment in this process in this journey. I made a commitment along time ago to be a teacher and an educator and to serve our teachers and administrators and get everything they need.”

McKenna has been resistant to answering questions about his positions on specific issues, but in a brief interview after the event, he said, “I’m not running on issues or against anyone. Do teachers deserve raises? Yes. Should teachers be evaluated? Yes. Do they deserve tenure? Yes. But in that yes, there’s a whole lot of nuances.”

Among other notables at the event were UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and City Council Members Tom LaBonge, Gil Cedillo, Bernard Parks and Paul Koretz.

In a statement from his campaign, Johnson said, “I’m proud to have Mayor Villaraigosa’s support for my campaign in this very important election for the future of our schools and educational opportunities for our children.”

Zimmer and Kayser became the latest members of the board to endorse in the race, joining joining Monica Ratliff, who also endorsed McKenna, and Monica Garcia, who is supporting Johnson.

The breakdown is not surprising. Just as McKenna is receiving strong support from UTLA, Zimmer, Kayser and Ratliff are the union’s strongest advocates on the board. Garcia is a leading voice for reform policies, and the PAC affiliated with the California Charter Schools Association has spent more than $77,000 on Johnson’s behalf.

The board member endorsements leave only President Richard Vladovic and Tamar Galatzan as board members who have not publicly expressed support for either candidate. Galatzan’s office said she was out of town and unreachable; Vladovic was said to be unavailable for comment.

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