Save our schools

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first_imgThat’s no exaggeration. The current school board is an arrogant and incompetent impediment to education reform in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and today offers the best chance we’ve had at ousting the old guard in nearly a decade. But only if you bother to vote. Because if you don’t, the defenders of the status quo will grind out another victory, as they almost always do when voter turnout is low. That’s because the special interests that bankroll these anti-reformers not only spend the big bucks, but also use every trick in the book to keep their lackeys in power. That, too, is no exaggeration. Consider the example of Ed Kaz, a chapter chairman of United Teachers Los Angeles. Last week, Kaz told a group of teachers that, should they take today off to help the campaign of Valley board member and anti-reformer Jon Lauritzen, they should claim their time off was for “professional development” – so the taxpayers would end up picking up the tab for their campaigning while our kids are left stuck for the day with substitute teachers. When challenged, Kaz – an experienced union official who admits he offered the same instructions to other teachers earlier in the week – backed down, claiming he made a mistake. Teachers who shirk their responsibilities to play politics, he now says, should do so under a different mechanism that allows for the UTLA to pay the bill. Assuming (charitably) that Kaz is telling the truth, and didn’t mean to encourage teachers to rip off the public, it’s still appalling that the UTLA is able to take credentialed teachers out of the classroom to use them for political purposes. That just goes to show how powerful the special interests have become – and how preserving the status quo routinely trumps the needs of our kids. No wonder the school board awarded the union a massive, pre-election pay raise that will cost the LAUSD $200 million more than officials had budgeted for. And no wonder the union spends so much, in terms of money and manpower, to help its candidates get into and stay in office. But in this election, the UTLA isn’t guaranteed victory. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has backed a slate of reform candidates and helped them raise the necessary funds to have a real shot at sweeping into office. These reformers can only win – and the school board can only change – if you make the effort to get out and vote. So, please, take the time to go the polls. Do it for your children. Do it for the city’s future. Do it because an arrogant culture of corruption deserves its comeuppance. And when you vote, wherever you live, be sure to vote for one of the reformers in the four LAUSD races: Tamar Galatzan, Johnathan Williams, Yolie Flores Aguilar and Richard Vladovic.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! `WHY in the world should I bother to vote today?” It’s a fair question to ask in this, the state that can’t seem to hold enough elections, and on a ballot that includes no top offices, no major initiatives and a slew of incumbents coasting toward victory against only nominal competition, if that. But there’s a very good reason to vote today: Your kids’ future – the future of education in Los Angeles – depends on it. last_img

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