Manigault has celebrity power, but is it enough in District 1?
Yana Gracile | May 6, 2014
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Fourth in a series of profiles of candidates for LA Unified’s open District 1 board seat.
While she may be best known for her TV appearances on Celebrity Apprentice, Omarosa Manigault is relying more on her business and technological know-how to persuade voters she’s worthy of serving as the LA Unified District 1 Board member.
She’s one of now eight candidates in the June 3 special election to fill the seat held by the late Marguerite LaMotte.
“I am very proud to have worked in the area of telecommunications policy at the Department of Commerce with a focus on the digital divide, which uniquely equips me to deal with innovative curriculum and the Common Core standards,” she told LA School Report.
Manigault, 40, an assistant Pastor at the Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles and a Director of Education and Curriculum for the Los Angeles Clippers Youth Camp, said she was encouraged to run for the board seat by the parents in her congregation.
She feels her strong social networking platform will help reach more voters, through a campaign that combines grassroots and innovative digital campaign strategies.
“There are candidates in this race who want to use outdated approaches to issues that surround innovation and technology,” she said. “The classroom has changed, the curriculum has changed, and our children need leaders who can be adequately trained and prepared to address these emerging needs.”
Manigualt currently serves as a substitute special education teacher in LAUSD. She has been an educator for nearly 15 years, teaching at various levels, including a stint at a Washington, D.C. charter school during her doctorate studies at Howard University.
Working at different schools, Manigault says, has given her a wider perspective in issues critical to urban public education, such as classroom overcrowding.
“I am shocked at the overcrowding that I encounter in school particularly in District 1,” she said. “Research shows that there are health and safety risks for students in overcrowded classes. As a result of overcrowding, students have lower achievement levels, pay less attention and experience higher incidence of violence.”
Manigault said she is hoping to raise $100,000 in campaign donations even as time is running out. So far, she has received a quarter of it. And she was the only candidate among the four teachers running who did not win endorsement of the teachers union, UTLA.
But that’s where name recognition could help. Her years on television, cultivating an image of a hard-nosed competitor who fights for what she wants, gave her a national persona — and she might need it for a chance against better organized and financed opponents.
“They are already familiar with me and who I am,” she said of District 1 voters. “I simply have to have substantial voter contact and get my message out.”
And her message is that District 1 “needs a representative who will propel our young people into the future. District 1 needs new energy, new ideas and fresh leadership.”
“The first issue that I would address would be a full review of the 2014-15 budget and LCFF funding distribution,” she said. “I will to make certain that District 1 gets its fair share so that our children have all of the tools and support that they need to succeed and receive a high quality public education.”
*Clarifies her position with the LA Clipper Youth Camp.