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Digitally savvy (?) LAUSD board members, online help for college

Craig Clough | May 14, 2015

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A recent panel discussion at the Milken Institute took on the issue of digital technology in the classroom under the assumption that “traditional education, built around books and classroom activities, no longer prepares students for today’s digital world or the job market that it has created.”

As LAUSD looks to reboot its digital approach in the wake of the iPad disaster, the questions posed by the Milken panel are ever more relevant, including how digitally savvy are the school board members who will lead the district into its digital future? Let’s take a look and some Twitter feeds for a few answers.

Twitter is a common social media tool many government leaders use to communicate directly with their supporters and constituents. President Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown and countless local government leaders use it on a regular basis.

But what about the LAUSD board? Like many things, there is a deep division.

In the “needs improvement” category, there are George McKenna, Bennett Kayser, Monica Ratliff and Richard Vladovic.

McKenna’s Twitter feed (@drgeorgemckenna) has 32 followers and has never sent out a single tweet. Kayser (@Lausd_Kayser) has 159 followers and has sent out 41 tweets, the last of which was in November. Ratliff does not seem to have a Twitter account, although one that appears attached to her 2013 campaign, @TheOnlyTeacher, has 179 followers and has never sent a tweet. And then there is Vladovic (@richardvladovic), who has 106 followers and has sent out a grand total of four tweets in the last year.

The board’s other three members are displaying supreme social media skills, by comparison. Monica Garcia (@Monica4LAUSD) has 1,459 Twitter followers, and has sent out 1,167 tweets. Tamar Galatzan (@TamarGalatzan) has 985 followers and has sent out 706 tweets. And Steve Zimmer (@lausd_zimmer) has 1475 followers and has sent out 534 tweets.

Transitional kindergarten

The LA Unified board this week approved a resolution that asks the state to consider expanding the number of children eligible for transitional kindergarten. State law currently limits transitional kindergarten enrollment to four-year-olds born between Sept. 2 and Dec. 1.

The resolution, sponsored by Ratliff and Kayser, asks Brown and the state legislature to consider allowing all four year olds to enroll.

“I brought this resolution forward to establish a tool the district could use to provide a full-day developmentally appropriate program for more four-year olds, with the possibility of collecting additional revenue, once these students turn five,” Ratliff said in a statement.

Kayser added, “We must engage our neediest students and their parents as early as possible,” said Kayser, “so we can get them to kindergarten on par with less challenged, more affluent peers.  As a teacher, I know that the so-called ‘schools-to-prisons-pipeline’ is really a ‘pampers-to-prison-pipeline,’ and that we must do more on the front end of these children’s lives to change their educational outcomes.”

Campus steps

California ranks worst among states in counselor-to-student ratio, according to the U.S. Department of Education, which pegs the state’s number at 1,016-to-1. The national average in 250-to-1.

So for students who don’t feel like waiting to see their college advisor comes a new free website and app aimed at helping them with the admissions process.

Campus Steps “allows a student to easily track their coursework, search colleges based on various criteria and directly communicate with their counselor via text or email. The platform matches students to colleges based on database of more than 8,500 public and private four-year universities, community colleges and trade/vocational schools, regardless of their academic level, socioeconomic background or location,” according to a press release.

Campus Steps said it is in talks about how to work closely with LAUSD .


*UPDATED to correct the number of Twitter followers of Monica Ratliff

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