Three contested Los Angeles Unified School District board seats are up for a vote in the March 3 Los Angeles city primary election.
KPCC surveyed the candidates for their thoughts and priorities on key issues facing the district. Here are candidate Bennett Kayser's responses. (For information on other school board candidates as well as City Council candidates, visit KPCC's Los Angeles 2015 voter guide.)
1. What's the first issue you will tackle while in office?
Class size reduction. As a middle school teacher at Irving Middle School and as a Board Member I have fought tirelessly to provide our students with the best learning environments possible. We must decrease class sizes so that our teachers are given the best opportunities available to enrich the lives of our children. We must also be very data-orientated in our approach in that we must create strategic class size reduction. 9th grade math is a historically plagued by large class sizes and there is a strong correlation that students who do not pass 9th grade math have a higher propensity to not graduating on time.
2. What qualities will you look for in hiring the next superintendent?
As District enters our national search for a new superintendent, which must include parents, teachers, students and community members, we must find a leader who is intent on putting the needs of students first. We must find a strong consensus builder who is able to bring the board together in order to create policy that is best for the students of our district. It is imperative that we find a Superintendent who has a strong track record of academic gains in past leadership roles. Finally, we must find a powerful communicator who understands how to speak to a diverse and ever-changing group of constituents across the district.
3. Do you support charter school expansion?
I am an advocate of schools that serves all students. Charter schools have chronically not served all students, especially those with disabilities. I believe the district has ignored this fact and is not meeting the needs of all of our students by approving charter expansion. I am a strong advocate for magnet schools and have worked tirelessly to expand them. As a district, we must offer a level of accountability for charter schools and we must be vigilant in our commitment to serving all students regardless of condition.
4. Do you support the iPad program?
I have always supported technology expansion for students, but the John Deasy iPad program was not interested in being the best program for students. I never voted for the John Deasy iPad program because there was no accountability structures created for the program. I did vote for computers for state testing. As a former information technology director, I know that a district is best served on a diverse and multi-platform technology rollout, meaning that a single device and software provider is the most limiting and ineffective strategy.
5. What priorities would you like to see reflected in next year's budget? Please be as specific as possible.
I believe that class size reduction, early education, and after school programs must be prioritized in our budget process. I authored legislation that directed an additional 34 million dollars to early education. Our students deserve classrooms that yield the best possible outcomes and we must prioritize smaller classrooms so that teachers can deliver high quality instruction. As a lifelong advocate for early education, I know that the sooner students are introduced to curriculum, the higher the probability they are to graduate and go to college and I plan on continuing to support our early education program so that we may prepare the next generation of learners.