"Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector." — Professor Noam Chomsky
A few weeks ago I was invited by the District 2 Neighborhood Coalition to participate in a series of candidate forums for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) District 2 seat. The first forum was held in nearby Lincoln Heights on Wednesday October 17, 2012, and they've already have scheduled the second forum for November 15 at CARECEN. The coalition is currently trying to secure other locations for future forums.
Five of my fellow candidates confirmed and were on hand. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, only LAUSD President Mónica García didn't respond to her official invitation for the event. The forum was very empowering in that it allowed for the community to engage six of the seven currently registered candidates for LAUSD's District 2. The event's format allowed all the candidates equal opportunity to address questions from the audience and to state their positions on various issues.
The second forum was going to be held in Echo Park, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAUSD President Mónica García intentionally redrew the District 2 maps to remove the a large base of support from social justice schoolboard candidates registered prior to redistricting. The Villaraigosa and García machine's perfect gerrymander details how all of Echo Park North of the 101 Freeway was mysteriously redlined from District 2 last Spring.
Now the second forum has been scheduled for November 15, at The Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) in the Koreatown/Pico Union area. The full details of which are posted as an event here on Patch and the attached flyer. In addition to hosting the second forum at their facility, CARECEN is officially endorsing the whole series of forums. The Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC) is also endorsing the forums, as is Public Education and Social Justice Advocacy (PESJA), Political Action Council of Educators (PACE), and others.
I was going to provide a recap of the first event and quotes from the various candidates, but it turns out that Paco Mendoza of the La Educación show on W Radio 690 AM filmed the event and posted it as a series of YouTube videos that I've linked here. For a full photo gallery from the first event, visit the District 2 Neighborhood Coalition website.
You'll notice that there's quite a bit of consensus among the candidates, as eight years of abjectly failed leadership by the current Trustee has brought out likeminded community members who represent a strong desire not only for change, but to set right years of wrong.
The first event was exciting in that the focus was on issues and solutions. It allowed the community to see, hear, and interact with the candidates. As the election looms closer, we will be barraged with one sided messaging by the incumbent because of her close ties to and backing by the one percent. Ms. García's enormous funding advantage will come into play. Let's not forget what happened in the last election cycle for schoolboard.
In Los Angeles, the Philip Anschutz, Eli Broad, Jerry Perenchio, and Reed Hastings backed Coalition for School Reform (CSR) spent 3.2 million dollars trying to get reactionary corporate reformer Luis Sanchez elected to LAUSD. The plutocrats outspent the community candidate Bennet Kayser more than 10 to 1 for every vote! Fortunately our hard work as a community allowed us to squeak out a victory over the corporate candidate. It's clear that the CSR will pull out all the stops this election. It's hard to imagine how much they'll spend against the community campaigns.
Get involved. Come out to the forums. Invite your friends. Tell everyone you know about all the different candidates running and how there's discussion of challenging the current leadership in LAUSD and the real status quo — privatization, narrowing the curriculum, and subjecting children to standardized tests instead of fostering a culture of learning. They're our schools!