The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Monica Garcia

Please list your top 4 priorities for the elective office you are seeking.

  1. Increase graduation
  2. Increase 3rd grade reading
  3. Reduce suspensions
  4. Reduce drop-outs

- Monica Garcia

There are many challenges facing the LAUSD. As an example, just last month the District warned state and county officials that it “may not be able to meet its financial obligations in upcoming years because it faces a cumulative deficit of $1.46 billion through the 2018-2019 school year.” It is also fighting a $1 billion lawsuit filed by Mark Geragos against the LAUSD on behalf of teachers who were victimized by the District’s Teacher Jail program. Parents of children with moderate to severe special education needs are also suing the District in an effort to keep special education centers open. Most concerning, incumbent Board member Monica Garcia states that “most of our kids, all of our kids can’t read.”

With these major problems on the table, there is a lot of room to set four top priorities. However, when replying to a questionnaire from the East Area Progressive Democrats, Garcia listed “Increase graduation” and “Reduce drop-outs” as two different priorities. These are two sides of the same coin! Given her assessment of our students’ reading abilities, it is refreshing that she wants to “increase 3rd-grade reading”. However, she does not explain why she would ignore all the other grades. Proving once again that she is more interested in slogans than defining actual problems, she rounds out her list with “reduce suspensions”. A far better priority would be to reduce behaviors leading to these suspensions through interventions like restorative justice.

Even worse was Garcia’s response to the request to “tell us in one or two sentences (below) how you would address each of the priorities you listed”:

Keep our eye on A-G on track students, provide differentiated and personalized learning, and intervene as needed on remediation. Create a culture of college-going community.

While the first sentence at least relates to the priority of increasing graduation, the use of “differentiated and personalized learning” also shows that Garcia still clings to the failed policies of John Deasy. It is also ironic that she thinks that “personalized” learning is a priority but shows disdain for special education. It is unclear how the second part of her statement relates to any of her priorities. In fact, my candidacy is based on the idea that myopic focus on college has the opposite effect on reducing drop-outs. If we want 100% of students to graduate, then we must value each and every one of them, even the ones who will not go to college.

The remaining two priorities were not even addressed in her final statement. This is not surprising since her policies have shown that she thinks that it is enough to reduce suspensions by just removing this as a disciplinary option for school officials. Without presenting a plan to identify and assist students whose behavioral issues can disrupt entire classrooms, which interferes with the ability of all students to learn. She also did not state how she will increase third, or any other grade, reading. If Garcia thinks that these are priorities, shouldn’t she be able to put forward concrete plans? After all, she has been on the Board for ten years.