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 Tamar Galatzan'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?
I have been a strong advocate for technology since I joined the school board in 2007, and it remains a critical need for our students and teachers. I have invested my bond money in building computer labs and buying devices for my schools. But we have to ensure that every student in the district has regular access to technology, and that our teachers are trained to use it as an instructional tool. At the same time, we must continue to focus on the full implementation of MiSiS. The success of this system is key to streamlining our record-keeping system and creating a platform for increasing parent involvement in their children’s education.
2. What qualities will you look for in hiring the next superintendent?
I have worked with four superintendents during my time on the board – twice with the current schools chief, Ramon Cortines. All were leaders in their own right, with experience in overseeing huge organizations and multibillion-dollar budgets. We will always need a superintendent who has those skills, but there are other qualities that are equally important. We need a chief who can respond to the demands of various stakeholders – students, families, employees and the community – and who has a vision for what our kids need to succeed. The superintendent must also have the ability to get along with all seven board members – individually and collectively – with the understanding that not everyone will always agree on what is best for the district.
3. Do you support charter school expansion?
I have always supported giving families a choices about how to educate their children. State law is very clear about the process for approving or denying charter school petition, and I will continue to adhere to those regulations when considering a proposal. At the same time, I believe that LAUSD should invest in innovating its traditional schools and strengthening options such as pilot schools, magnets and affiliated charters.
4. Do you support the iPad program?
I joined with my school board colleagues in approving the Common Core Technology Project as a way to bridge the digital divide and provide technology to all students. We believed that educational equity was the next stop in a strategy that had raised student achievement and reduced the dropout rate. There were admittedly problems with the initial rollout, and it’s unfortunate that the focus has remained on that instead of on the progress that students have made. About 60,000 iPads and laptops purchased through CCTP are being used by students, and a dozen schools are now allowing students to take the devices home. Superintendent Ramon Cortines recognizes the continuing need to increase access to technology and has formed a committee to oversee a revamped Instructional Technology Initiative. We need to get beyond viewing technology as simply “the iPad project,” and look at how it can transform our students’ futures.
5. What priorities would you like to see reflected in next year's budget? Please be as specific as possible.
1 - Fund raises for our employees, who made personal sacrifices that helped the district weather the recession.
2 - Continue our investment in small class sizes at the elementary level and work to make similar reductions in core classes in middle and high school.
3 - Provide remediation, intervention and credit-recovery for high school students struggling to pass A-G classes with a “C” or better – the new requirement for graduation.