Jackie Goldberg Named LAUSD Board President
The Los Angeles School Board finally selects the member with the most legislative experience to lead it through what can be a year of change.
“My number one goal is for every student to realize their potential and for every adult in our district to play their part.” - Jackie Goldberg
According to the agenda released in advance of the LAUSD Board’s annual meeting, the public was supposed to have an opportunity to comment before the officers were selected. This would have allowed the district’s stakeholders to express their preference for the person they would like to lead the district and have input into the criteria that should be met. Unfortunately, the designated public comment period was ignored, and the nomination process began immediately after opening the meeting (30 minutes late). Past President Kelly Gonez has left her mark on the board.
Board District 7 representative Tanya Ortiz-Franklin was randomly selected to have the first chance to make her nomination for president of the board and named Jackie Goldberg. As their turns came, the other members either seconded Goldberg’s selection or otherwise expressed agreement. The nominations were closed and the six board members who were present voted unanimously to make Goldberg their new President. Gonez, who recently gave birth, was absent.
Goldberg is an exciting choice to lead the board. This is her second stint on the school board and she has also served on the Los Angeles City Council and California State Assembly. Her experience is unmatched among her colleagues and her legislative prowess will be interesting to watch.
In accepting her new position, Goldberg made a dramatic change to the committee structure. Instead of existing solely to hear presentations from the district’s bureaucrats, these bodies are now charged with making policy recommendations to the board and the Superintendent. In Goldberg’s words, they will now be “action-oriented.”
Next, nominations were taken for the Vice President of the Board. Board Member Scott Schmerelson drew the first position and nominated himself. Franklin nominated Nick Melvoin. The vote was taken and Schmerelson was selected unanimously. Melvoin did not even get the vote of the person who nominated him.
With the voting completed, the public was finally given an opportunity to speak. I used my three minutes to ask for support for the proposed “Improving Special Education Within The LAUSD” resolution:
Good morning and Happy New Year.
The new year is a time of hope. With the turn of the calendar from one year to the next, we often make an effort to jettison bad habits and resolve to do better. We want to do our best to make the most of new beginnings.
As 2023 begins, this board is given a chance at a fresh start. We have a brand new President and Vice President (congratulations Ms. Goldberg and Mr. Schmerleson). As we look at the dais we see a brand new face and a new majority that was elected to support children in public schools. Many of us worked hard to help elect this new majority with the hope that you bring the changes that are so desperately needed by this district. We have put our faith in this new majority. The children are depending on you to follow through.
No group of students is depending on you more than those with Special Education needs. The needs of our most vulnerable children have been ignored for far too long. Dr. Rivas replaces a board member who was openly hostile to these children, who complained that special education took funds away from “our kids.” The Board needs to turn the page and let these families know that change is coming and that it will be swift.
You have all been provided with a copy of the proposed “Improving Special Education Within The LAUSD” resolution. If enacted:
Families would be assured that they have access to specialized programs and Special Education Centers if that is what is best for their children.
Students in these specialized spaces could enjoy the benefits of inclusion by having general education students join them instead of forcibly mainstreaming them into environments that are not appropriate for their needs.
Families would be able to freely share information about best practices without fear of retribution from the district.
Teachers would be given greater freedom to operate their classrooms in ways that most benefit the needs of their specific students.
Vice-Principals, teachers, aides, and other staff will have the right to discuss all educational options with the parents and guardians in their school community without fear of punishment.
Our district’s most vulnerable students are depending on you to put these changes in place. Which one of you will step up and sponsor this resolution? Who will make sure that these children are no longer left behind?
Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He was elected to the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and is the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.
About the Creator
Carl J. Petersen
Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with SpEd needs and public education. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Opinions are his own.
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