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Commentary: Why we must vote in Tuesday’s LAUSD school board election

Guest contributor | May 11, 2017

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By Evelyn Aleman Macias

As a Los Angeles Unified School District parent, school volunteer, and a member of the district’s Parent Advisory Council for the Local Control Funding Formula, I’m often dismayed by the ongoing rift between charter and non-charter school advocates.

The issue seems to become even more of a focal point during elections, as is the case with our current school board elections. Many parents, students, and advocates who are on either side of the argument want their potential new school board member to represent their position on the charter/non-charter issue. For some, this may mean decreasing or perhaps eliminating the number of charter schools on LAUSD campuses that they believe are siphoning resources from non-charter/traditional public schools, while for others it will mean increasing the number of public charter schools.

As a result of this ongoing debate, I believe that we’re missing opportunities to address and voice concerns over the issues that really matter, such as providing quality instruction, improving student academic outcomes, raising graduation requirements, more and better access to college preparatory coursework, etc. — and offering a variety of school options that will help parents meet the individualized needs of their children. I have a child in an affiliated charter high school and a child in a traditional middle school who attended an affiliated charter elementary school. All three schools are high-quality public schools.

As a parent, when selecting schools, I didn’t care about whether each campus was charter or non-charter. I only cared about the quality of instruction. I want my children to succeed academically and have a shot at going to college if that’s what they wish to do, and I understand that a good education is key to that. I think that if we – the adults – collectively focused on this rather than the current discussion, our kids might be in a better place. This election is not focused on what’s best for the students, but what’s best for the system.

In 2015, some of our school board members voted to lower the student requirements for A-G college prep coursework from a C grade to a D. As a result, more than half of LAUSD’s 2016 graduates were not eligible for CSU or UC universities. Our own elected officials failed our children.

The upcoming elections are an opportunity to hold our elected officials accountable. We need to inform ourselves, pay close attention to the issues and decisions at stake, and vote for candidates who make students a priority.

 Evelyn Aleman Macias has two teenagers in LA public schools and is a parent- and student-voice advocate.

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