At this point, I am going to sound like a broken record but considering last week’s results and the numerous Facebook posts from folks on opposite extremes, I think it’s important to at least try and reach some consensus on what should actually matter now.
First things first, let’s all take a moment to step back and let go of our own biased opinions. You can be upset that “your” candidate lost, or, conversely, you can be beyond ecstatic that yours won. But the reality is that we need to move past all that, and quickly. The moment we stop making it so much about us and our opinions and special interests, will be the moment we can start figuring out how to work together. Our only special interest should actually be providing students a quality education.
That being said, this election has truly left a bad taste on many of our metaphorical palettes. As an elected official, I found myself empathizing with the candidates without even wanting too. Politics can get dirty, and independent expenditures, which is money spent on political advertising in support of or against a particular candidate with no limits on the amount an individual or group may spend, can help you or completely ruin you. But at the end of the day, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to be willing to put your name on the ballot. Yes, each candidate came with their own platform and had their own priorities and while one’s agenda could have resonated more with you than the other, we need to admit that things got a little out of hand. Was it necessary for the election to cost millions of dollars and for the campaign to become so negative? Absolutely not.
Considering these candidates were running for seats on a school board, where they would represent families and our children, it is disappointing for our community to have endured such a division. Throughout, the buzz word seemed to be “unity” and yet every negative action only polarized the community even more. But it is what it is, and I hope we can at least learn from how exhausting this campaign was to realize that what actually matters shouldn’t be who has the biggest campaign war chest or who they were receiving the money from, but rather, what each candidate brings to the table and who can best serve as a fearless champion for our students.
Two new board members were elected that night- It is now our job to make them accountable. This needs to stop being about the “charter supporters” vs. the “district school supporters.” We need to ensure that these new board members do their outreach to really get to know the communities they now represent while also ensuring they understand how to navigate the field. They need to be introduced to great organizations, like CSBA, NALEO and YEO, that can provide them with resources and support as they learn to push forward policy that can be transformational for our students. They need to not be seen as the enemies and rather be provided the benefit of the doubt at the very least, as setting them up for success can ultimately benefit the communities they now serve. We need to stop portraying them as the enemy and rather provide them with the information they will need to make sound decisions that are not influenced by special interest groups. And most importantly, we need to remind them of the great power and great responsibility that their seat represents. Millions of dollars went into that seat- we can’t let that money go to waste by continuing to bicker about the results. We need to simply remind them that they are being held accountable.
I encourage our newly elected LAUSD board members, and their respective supporters, to join the rest of the team and fight to deliver results that are not simply linked to charter expansion or charter rejections, and instead on how to move the needle forward for our students. It is only when collaboration amongst all board members occurs, that we will all truly win.
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