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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Los Angeles County, CA March 3, 2015 Election
Smart Voter

Sam Kbushyan
Answers Questions

Candidate for
Member of the Board of Trustees; Los Angeles Community College District; Office 3


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. What is the single most important issue facing LACCD today? How, as Trustee, would you deal with it?

LACCD at-large elections are the single most important issue facing the LACCD today. Presently, it is virtually impossible for anyone to win a seat to the Board unless they have been anoited by the special interests that spend millions to elect Board Members to represent 2.5 million voters. As a result, none of the 9 campus communities in the District have any political accountability from the Board. This results in a lack of involvement of many community stakeholders in their local campuses and a tone-deaf approach from Central District Managers to do things like close the historic Pierce College Farm, or build a $100M Van De Kamp Campus and then not use it for a Community College purpose.

As a Trustee, I will force the Board to acknowledge that the prevailing law, and future of the LACCD, requires that we scrap the undemocratic and unfair at-large election process and adopt a 9 District plan so that each community with a campus can elect a representative. This plan will allow for stronger community representation at the Board level and a counter-balance to the special interests and administrators that have run the LACCD aground with reckless spending, poor planning and a historic disregard for accountability.

It is my goal to someday give voters the ability to identify who their LACCD representative is and have a basic understanding of what they have done to make education more accessible and affordable for their family and their neighborhoods.

2. How would you address the level of resources now devoted to remedial classwork at our community colleges?

My solution for this problem is to emphasize 21st teaching methods for a 21st century population. Right now, we are still trying to cram students into traditional classrooms (like the 19th Century) when in fact many students would prefer to access their education online. My goal is to have every class at every campus online so that students can choose to take them online, on-campus, or some hybrid mix thereof.

Once we start freeing up faculty resources, we can re-direct our faculty to tackling the growing number of remedial students and get those students back on track toward progress in their educational goals. We can also use technology to instruct these students outside the classroom and should consult with successful private entities like the Khan Academy to develop successful self-learning technologies. LACCD has the size and resources to tackle such a herculean task but we cannot do this alone.

The simple fact is that our LAUSD K-12 system is continuing to send us students who are not prepared for any college courses. As elected representatives, we need to develop partnerships with the LAUSD elected representatives to share the responsibility for getting their currently challenged students up to standard, and providing for past students to obtain the skills to earn their High School Diploma.

Finally, too many LACCD students are not engaged with campus counselors to develop realistic and meaningful educational goals. As a former Community College student, I went from a 1.6 GPA to becoming Student Body President at LA Valley College with a 3.4 GPA because a counselor showed me the way. I'll make sure every student has a plan and goals to work toward even if they need remedial help to get them on the path.

3. How would you prioritize the various roles of the community college today?

I will put the 'Community' back in community college. Our Community College system was created in 1921 with local input and governance as a central distinction from our other state college systems. We are disconnected now such that current campuses have no meaningful role in our neighborhoods leaving campus Presidents to use their limited time and resources to individually reach out to their communities with varying levels of success. They need the focused help that an elected representative of the community could bring to the table.

Currently, the LACCD Managers are spending 92% of their $127 million dollar technology budget on "District Wide" projects that do not benefit the Community. I'd shift a large portion of those programs to develop free wifi for neighborhoods surrounding our campuses so that there is a meaningful connection to the campuses. We need to make our campuses relevant to the Communities that surround them and give them a reason to think of their Community College as a pathway of opportunity for the late blooming student to the grandmother who wants to learn horticultural techniques. Our campuses should reflect the needs of our community and should enhance their educational journeys not inhibit them in the name of overcrowding and unnecessary construction projects.

We are so focused on college preparation that we've lost our purpose and connection to the Community. Everything I will do will be prioritizing our community role in restoring our campuses to meet our needs and not those of the bureaucrats that currently run the place.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' answers are presented as submitted.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: January 8, 2015 16:53
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