July 2, 2013, wasn’t just another day. On that day, there was a LAUSD School Board meeting unlike any other in recent memory.
Each year, at the first LAUSD Board meeting in July, the seven School Board members (laschoolboard.org) vote to elect a president. While the School Board president doesn’t have expanded powers, the position affords an opportunity to set the tone, run Board meetings, and work closely with the superintendent to determine meeting agendas.
At the July 2 Board meeting, three members began a four-year term: District 2 Board Member Monica Garcia, District 4 Board Member Steve Zimmer, and District 6 Board Member Monica Ratliff. When the U.S. Supreme Court wrongly ruled (my opinion) in 2010 (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission) that an individual may make unlimited campaign donations to “independent expenditure” groups who advocate for issues and not candidates, the monetary floodgates opened in a way we’ve never seen, creating a situation that will inevitably only get worse over the next few years.
Despite smear campaigns spearheaded by donations as far away as New York—including NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who personally contributed at least $1.25 million (outside contributions topped $4 million)—through Mr. Zimmer’s and Ms. Ratliff’s amazing efforts, and those of their incredible community-based, grassroots campaigns, citizens voted for two individuals who don’t just stand around and talk about what students need. Mr. Zimmer and Ms. Ratliff both have had actual real-life classroom teaching experience.