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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA May 19, 2015 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Board Member; Los Angeles Unified School District; District 7

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Most Important Issue, Role of Board, Teacher Evaluation

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. What is the single most important issue facing LAUSD today? As a Board Member, what would you do to deal with it?

Answer from Lydia A. Gutiérrez:

The single most important issue facing LAUSD is Academic failure.

Review of the High School Academic Performance Index (API 2013 year) of District 7 reveals that it is one of the lowest-performing districts. The feeder elementary and middle schools have poor academic scores. Review of their statistics showed they were generally similar except the percentage of gifted children. The breakdown at the high school level is as follows (ranking is 1 to 10 with 1 being lowest and 10 highest):

  • High School/API Score/Ranking/% of Gate Students
  • Phineas Banning Senior: 665/2/12%
  • Carson Senior: 677/2/14%
  • San Pedro Senior: 718/3/20%
  • Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy: 921/10 /50%
  • Narbonne Senior: 711/3/17%
  • Jordan Senior: 615/1/7%
  • Performing Arts Community: 596/1/6%
  • John C. Fremont Senior: 623/1/6%
  • Gardena Senior: 641/1/12%
  • Rancho Dominguez Preparatory: 673/2/12%
  • Mervyn M. Dymally High: 547/1/4%

There needs to be academic review at the primary grade level. There is a cause and effect relationship here. There has to be a realistic review of standards, curriculum, teaching methods, teacher qualifications and support to know what is happening in the classroom. It is wrong to put the full blame on the classroom teacher when there are many factors that play a major role on how children academically learn and perform.

Once reviewed, a 5-year strategic plan must be put in place and the Board and Superintendent must be fully committed to the academic success of our students. A great of deal of finances have been wasted on lofty ideas like MiSiS, iPads, and overpriced consultants.

Answer from Richard A. Vladovic:

The most important issue facing LAUSD today is increasing academic achievement. The Great Recession was very difficult on our economy and our schools. Our school district did not have the resources it desperately needed for many years.

Now that the economy is improving and resources are increasing, it's time to bolster our efforts to provide healthier, safer schools; implement vital new programs; and guarantee our youth the opportunities they will need to succeed in life.

The graduation rate is increasing, the drop-out rate is decreasing, and we are providing the resources our local schools need. We need to continue these successes.

? 2. What is the role of the Board, and what is the role of the Superintendent? How should they interact?

Answer from Lydia A. Gutiérrez:

Role of the Board:

The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways:

  • First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board's agenda--it is the only item.
  • When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community's view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent. (

Board Members' Responsibilities:

  • Most importantly, the Board annually approves the district's budget.
  • The Board typically has final say on hiring and firing all district staff
  • The Board approves bylaws and authorizes contracts.

Role of the Superintendent:

  • Administrative Responsibilities: School superintendents have a broad set of administrative and supervisory responsibilities that vary based on the size of the school district. Hiring and firing of senior staff, handling teacher and staff disciplinary matters, and managing the budget are the primary administrative responsibilities of most superintendents. In most districts, superintendents are also responsible for overseeing the implementation and enforcement of all state and federal statutes and programs relating to schools.
  • Educational Standards and Student Achievement: School superintendents have the difficult task of helping to set educational standards and measure student achievement in their districts. Superintendents typically have general authority over school curricula, within state guidelines. They often work together with the school board to develop and implement short- and long-range plans for curriculum, as well as instructional evaluation and improvement. School boards in some districts, however, sometimes clash with superintendents when they want to take a more active role in designing school curriculum or deciding how student achievement is measured. (

Superintendent's Responsibilities:

  • Often provides a vision for the district
  • Prepares budgets for the school board's approval
  • Overseeing school-wide initiatives and regulations and maintaining district standards.

Both Are Important: They work to provide checks, balances and accountability in the governance of the school system. How It Works: The superintendent, who is appointed by the school board, often submits requests to the board, which can then decide to approve the superintendent's plans by a majority vote. For additional accountability, the school board itself is usually elected by the public. School Board Meetings:

  • Most school boards hold public meetings every month to approve whatever agenda items the superintendent and school board want to put forward. The superintendent usually attends all school board meetings, but usually is not allowed to vote on agenda items. (

Answer from Richard A. Vladovic:

The School Board sets policy for the district and the Superintendent administers the district. It is very important to have a close working relationship in order to bring a comprehensive approach to governing the second largest K-12 system in the country.

? 3. What are your criteria for an effective teacher evaluation plan?

Answer from Richard A. Vladovic:

Evaluating teachers must be a comprehensive process that includes classroom observation, the review of test scores, the progress individual students are making, and more. Additionally, each evaluation should be weighed for factors that are out of the teacher's control, including the school environment and the socio-economic makeup of the student body.

Even more important than evaluating our teachers is training our teachers. LAUSD must continue to devote resources to the professional development of our educators.

Answer from Lydia A. Gutiérrez:

The criteria for an effective teacher evaluation plan first starts with a review of realistic goals and expectations. Teachers must be given achievable standards and age-appropriate curriculum, must be trained in proven teaching methods and the subject area being reviewed, and must have the support staff for the everyday operation. If these things are not in place, it is like demanding all the students to climb up to the top on a broken ladder when few, if any, will be able to make it.

Good Guidelines for Teacher Evaluation Criteria:

  • Centering instruction on high expectations for student achievement.
  • Demonstrating effective teaching practices.
  • Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs.
  • Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum.
  • Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment.
  • Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning.
  • Communicating and collaborating with parents and the school community.
  • Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instructional practice and student learning. (

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

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 23, 2015 11:01 PDT
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