Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Dismantling Our Public Schools

The District representatives were not helpful in suggesting remedies

- Cheryl Ortega

Under what circumstances should the police be called on a five-year-old child? According to parents at Mayberry Elementary School in the Silver Lake/Echo Park area of Los Angeles, the principal has called the Los Angeles Police Department about students under her charge on six different occasions. In one incident, a kindergarten student was questioned by police after he “pulled his pants down to a playmate”. When the boy’s mother, Britney Ingram, attempted to find out what was happening, she was told by the officers that the matter was a “confidential problem”, that she could not “be present while they questioned her son” and “that if her son did not testify they would take him to the police station.” Another parent who attempted to record the events was removed from the school at the direction of the principal despite the fact that she “was a registered [school] visitor at the time this happened”.

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The LAUSD Widget Factory

All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall

- Roger Waters

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) School Experience Survey is an opportunity for parents and guardians to grade the District’s performance. Included in this questionnaire are important statements  such as “Reports of bullying are taken seriously at this school” and “This school encourages my child to explore different career choices.” These apply to all students and are benchmarks on which all schools deserve to be judged.

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LAUSD's Board District 5 Is Still Unrepresented


We are living at a time in our nation when democracy and true representative government is being attacked and eroded at every level of leadership

- LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson

It has been almost three months since the LAUSD School Board rejected Board Member Scott Schmerelson’s “Providing a Voice and a Vote for the Constituents of Board District 5” resolution. As a result, the seat vacated by Ref Rodriguez has remained empty as the LAUSD careens towards a teacher’s strike. One-seventh of the LAUSD’s stakeholders have had no voice while Superintendent Austin Beutner is working on a secret plan to make another attempt at reorganizing the District’s bureaucracy. Parents had no one to turn to as yet another under-regulated charter school within Board District 5’s boundaries closed down in the middle of the school year.

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LAUSD Increases Salary Offer, Teachers Hold Out for Students

Salary: 6% on-schedule raise, including 3% retroactive for 2017-18, plus 3% raise for 2018-19


The LAUSD has already signed contracts with their other major unions that included raises totaling about 6%. It was, therefore, unclear why the District’s initial offer to the teachers was to only raise their salaries by 2%. This seemed to be especially insulting after Board Members received a raise of at least 174% and Superintendent Austin Beutner was given a contract with a base salary of $350,000 after his supporters initially told the Board that he was willing to work for free.

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Supporting Parents and Students

We stand with our teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), in calling for a real investment in our neighborhood public schools, so that all students have an equal opportunity.

- Northridge East Neighborhood Council

The Northridge East Neighborhood Council (NENC) is one of 99 Neighborhood Councils in the City of Los Angeles. These Councils “are advisory bodies who advocate for their communities” and are comprised of “City officials who are elected by the members of their local communities”. They are designed to be “the closest form of government to the people.

On October 17, 2018, the NENC considered two resolutions proposed by the Education Committee. Both were passed with overwhelming support and have been forwarded to Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, Chair of the Health, Education, and Neighborhood Councils Committee.

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Tony Thurmond Feels The Heat

I believe that it’s time to make our public education system in California among the greatest in the nation, and I have a plan to take us there.

  • - Tony Thurmond

Like a lot of other politicians who have been labeled “anti-charter school,” Tony Thurmond has not called for the end of these publicly funded private schools. In fact, he directly states that he “will support students in all schools, public, and charter”. What he has supported is “legislation to increase accountability and transparency in charter schools, and to ensure charter schools do not cherry-pick students and push out students with special needs.” The charter school industry does not want to be held accountable for the public funds that they receive. They have, therefore, unleashed $5.2 million is spending to oppose Thurmond, often in unethical ways.

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Unanswered Questions in the Race for California State Superintendent of Education

“We are largely unable to accept new offers to complete questionnaires”

- Marshall Tuck Campaign

The California Charter School Association and their allies have provided Marshall Tuck with enough cash to flood the airwaves with misleading ads, but with less than a week to go before the election, a whopping 16% of the electorate are still undecided or will not vote on the question of who will become the next California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This should not be unexpected in a race where the goal has been to obscure the facts in favor of creating fear. It is a favorite tactic of the charter school industry.

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Prop 13 and California's Education Failures

A budget should reflect the values and priorities of our nation and its people.

- Mary Landrieu

In California State Superintendent of Education candidate Marshall Tuck’s TV advertisement, he points out that California is 44th in achieving education results. What he leaves unsaid is that this performance parallels our state’s lack of funding for our students. As noted by Dr. Rocio Rivas, “California ranks 43rd in per-pupil spending with an investment of less than $11,000 per student, which is below the national average of approximately $12,526. In addition, California is ranked 48th in class size.” As a comparison, in the 2014-15 school year, New York state spent $20,744 per student.

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Abandoned Representation

Recently, I was presented with an amazing opportunity in the private sector to work with some of the most brilliant and well-respected leaders in their industry. While I didn’t seek this out – sometimes tremendous opportunities find you”

- LA City Councilman Mitch Englander

Republican Mitch Englander spent $404,421.93 during his last re-election campaign in 2015. He was running unopposed.

The very next year, Englander ran for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. While the voters denied him the opportunity to move on, it was clear that he felt no obligation to complete the five-year term on the City Council that he had been elected to serve.

Last week, the councilman announced that he would be leaving his office at the end of the year. Like a cheating husband making excuses to his wife, he told his constituents that “he didn’t seek this out [but] sometimes tremendous opportunities find you“. Englander will become the executive vice president of government affairs for the Oak View Group, a company that “spent more than $52,000 this year to try to influence the council and the parks department on issues related to the Greek” Theatre in Griffith Park.

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Marshall Tuck's Financial Support of Convicted Felon Ref Rodriguez


Rodriguez’s misdeeds…made a mockery of the laws governing elections.

- LA Times Editorial Board

By the time the last vote was counted in the 2015 LAUSD School Board election, it was the most expensive school board race in the history of the country. The impending cost to run for the Board District 5 seat was clear from the beginning when challenger Andrew Thomas loaned his campaign $51,000 during the filing period ending September 30, 2014.  In order to show that he was competitive, charter industry candidate Ref Rodriguez knew that he had to prove that he was also capable of filling his campaign coffers. He ended 2014 showing that he had raised $50,001. The choices that he made in reaching this achievement would eventually lead to him pleading guilty to felony charges and resigning his Board seat in disgrace.

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