Board of Trustees, Trustee Area 4 —Los Angeles Unified School DistrictMarch 7, 2017 —Local Elections
Los Angeles Unified School DistrictBoard of Trustees, Trustee Area 4
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About this office
- Advocate for significant investment in early education to close the school readiness gap
- Continue building and promoting innovative programs that prepare all students for meaningful and creative careers
- Continue managing district finances responsibly and strategically
Steve Zimmer is current President of the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school District in the nation. He is a 17-year veteran teacher, counselor, and community activist.
His teaching career began in 1992 after graduation from Goucher College when he joined Teach for America working as an ESL teacher at Marshall High School in Silver Lake. At Marshall, he developed innovative programs such as the Comprehensive Student Support Center, which provides free medical services to students and their families. He also founded the Elysian Valley United Community Services Center (CSC), a community owned and operated agency that provides a continuation and after school program as well as recreation and enrichment programs for the community.
Elected first in 2009 and re-elected in 2013, Steve continued his work serving youth and their families as a School Board Member. He was elected Board President in July 2015. Throughout his board tenure, he has continued to play a pivotal role in establishing school-community initiatives to support and stabilize families, as well as serve youth pushed out of the system.
Zimmer is the founder of Student Recovery Day, first launched in 2009 and now modeled by other districts throughout the State of California—a District-wide event to encourage students with excessive absences to return to school by visiting these students at their homes and in their communities. He also established a unique partnership with Youth Policy Institute's FamilySource Center and the Los Angeles Unified School District. This gave an opportunity for LAUSD services to be offered onsite at the FamilySource Center including pupil Services, attendance, and psychiatric social worker counseling, adult ESL classes, and a continuation high school for homeless youth.
He has authored numerous resolutions to support and affirm all students including those who are undocumented, living in poverty or experience homelessness, LGBTQ students and those students learning English as a second language. He has also received numerous award recognitions including 2015 Good Food Hero from the Los Angeles Food Policy Council for his continued work to improve the nutrition program within LAUSD by leading policy implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program.
Steve Zimmer is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including Elected Official of the Year from the California School Counseling Association and the Distinguished Alumni Award for Excellence in Public Service from Goucher College.
- Mayor Eric Garcetti
- Congressmember Karen Bass
- Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
- Congressmember Maxine Waters
- City Councilmember Paul Koretz
- State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian
- Tom Torlakson, Superintendent of Public Instruction
- LA School Police Officers Association
- Stonewall Democratic Club
- United Teachers of Los Angeles
- CSEA LA 500
- LA County Democratic Club
- Jonathan Kozol, writer, educator, activist
I’m running for re-election because I want to keep working together with our LAUSD family to improve our schools and public education. We’re made real and substantial change since I got on the Board, raising graduation rates from 56% to 75%, increasing arts programs, science education, expanding magnet and language programs. But our work is far from done. I believe we need to redouble our efforts in these areas and focus our energy. We need to invest in expanding early childhood education so all students are ready for school. We need to make sure all students are reading by 9. And we cannot rest until all our programs are rich in the social emotional learning that every student needs to excel.
Leading on LAUSD’s School Board requires important skills that I bring to the table. First and foremost, the Board is responsible for a multi-billion dollar budget that must be managed responsibly and strategically. Our investments must reflect the priorities of all our communities and we must make sure every student receives the same high quality of education in every one of our schools. Over the last 8 years that I’ve been on the Board, we have balanced our budgets and the District’s AAA credit rating is the highest a public agency can get. We have weathered many significant crises, from the recession to leadership changes. Every time, we have responded by bringing the LAUSD family together and getting to better through the binding power of collaboration, not competition.
And we must do better. We must accelerate our progress on academics. We must make sure our programs run efficiently and effectively. We must make sure our school environments allow the highest level of teaching and learning to happen by providing all the supports that are needed for students, teachers, staff and families.
Advocating for all students has been the cornerstone of my leadership. I wake up every morning committed to making sure LAUSD lives up to the values of public education to serve every student that comes to our door. Some days this means supporting immigrant students in realizing their American dream. Other days it’s making sure our schools are free of bullying and violence and have the support (such as site-based health clinics) that students and families need. And sometimes it’s ensuring that schools have gardens that are connected to classroom learning, and that the food we serve our students has met the highest nutritional, environmental and animal welfare standards.
- Local Control and Autonomy
- Ensuring Effective Teachers in Every Classroom
Nick Melvoin has spent his career fighting for our city’s schoolchildren. He believes that together, with the right leadership, we can ensure that every student in Los Angeles has the opportunity to succeed.
Born and raised on the Westside of LA, Nick served as a seventh and eighth grade English teacher at Markham Middle School, an LAUSD campus in Watts, where he coached soccer and baseball and helped his students launch a school newspaper.
At Markham, he saw firsthand how LAUSD failed to support schools and neglected the needs of our city’s most vulnerable students. When he and two-thirds of Markham’s teachers lost their jobs due to budget cuts, he fought to be re-hired and worked to end the indiscriminate, seniority-based teacher layoffs that harm so many LA families.
As a teacher, Nick joined the ACLU, Mayors Riordan and Villaraigosa, and others to bring a ground-breaking civil rights lawsuit which argued that LA’s layoffs violated the rights of students. They won.
Nick holds a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a Masters in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University (LMU), and a law degree from the New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar.
In addition to serving as a teacher, Nick has worked in the Obama White House with the Domestic Policy Council and the US Attorney’s office where he took part in various civil rights investigations as a legal clerk.
Today, Nick leads and facilitates efforts by students, parents, teachers, and community members to rethink and shape the future of our city’s schools. He is also an adjunct professor at LMU where he teaches teachers how to improve their own advocacy in the classroom. In working for nonprofits such as Teach Plus and Educators 4 Excellence, Nick helps to improve the support teachers across the state receive before and during their time in the classroom, as well as amplify teacher voice in policy-making.
Nick serves on the boards of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats, Brentwood Community Council, Teach For America Associates, University Synagogue's Social Justice Committee, and United in Harmony. He is a graduate of the Jewish Federation’s New Leaders Project and the New Leaders Council and chairs the Jewish Federation’s Educators’ Network.
Nick is also proud to serve as a director of Camp Harmony, a camp for homeless and underserved children. His commitment to solving educational inequity was first sparked as a volunteer at Camp Harmony more than fifteen years ago.
- The Los Angeles Times
- Kip Morales: LA Public School Teacher of the Year
- Mayor Villaraigosa
- Mayor Riordan
- The Argonaut
- The Daily News
- The Parent Teacher Alliance
- The LAX Chamber of Commerce
- Speak UP
- The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club
- The Los Angeles County Young Democrats
- Drew Karimlou, Instructional Coach, Synergy Academies
- Susan Hughes, Parent, Broadway Elementary School:
As an LAUSD teacher in Watts, I witnessed firsthand how the system fails students and teachers and neglects our city’s most vulnerable. But I remain confident that, with the right leadership, we can give every student the opportunity to succeed and reach their God-given potential.
This is my plan to L.I.G.H.T. a path toward a new system of public schools in LA.
Local Control and Autonomy
The Los Angeles Unified School District covers 27 cities, 710 square miles, and over 660,000 students. It should come as no surprise, then, that what works in one community may not work in another. I want to give our schools more local control to make the decisions that are right for them. We need more flexibility over school structure, budgeting, staffing, and community partnerships so that every classroom reflects its community and every educator can teach students at their level.
Innovation and Creative Thinking
The same old teaching methods are no longer working - we need new ideas. I will promote creativity in school design, classroom learning, and district governance. I plan to use technology to support families and schools and to find new ways to partner with LA’s creative industries. And we need to share best practices across schools, from neighborhood schools to magnets to charters, so that all schools can learn from what works.
Great Choices for All Families
Regardless of zip code, families deserve access to great choices, including local neighborhood schools, innovative magnet programs, and charter schools. And we need to help parents navigate those choices more easily. I will work to put all school options in one place, and I will help schools unify the application process and deadlines so all parents can choose the right school for their child. I'll also work to expand access to free preschool and pre-k programs throughout the city.
Human Capital Development and Support
We need to overhaul the District’s policies to better support our educators. I will work to incentivize high-performing teachers to teach in the schools that need them most. I also want to give teachers the training and support they need to become the best educator they can be. To do that, LAUSD needs a systematic way to recruit, develop, place and retain highly effective teachers.
Transparency and Accountability
- Supporting all models of public education that are thriving and ending the battle between traditional and non-traditional schools.
- Addressing the budget shortfalls and fixing the budget with my vast experience.
- Uniting a fractured board to be student focused with my expertise in school governance
Allison Holdorff Polhill is a public school governing board leader, an educator and a parent. She has served as an elected member of the Board of Trustees at Palisades Charter High School (PCHS) for the last six years. As an educator, Allison has taught Debate and Speech as well as Ethics and Human Communication at the high school and college levels. As a lawyer, Allison successfully represented three Native American tribes, preventing the nuclear industry from dumping radioactive waste on their sacred grounds. A graduate of UCLA and Loyola Law School, Allison is also a proud former student of Southern California public schools. Allison’s three children are all local public school graduates as well.
Allison was elected four times as a governing board member at Palisades Charter Elementary School, Paul Revere Charter Middle School and PCHS. PCHS is one of the largest schools in Los Angeles with 3,000 students from 100 zip codes representing the culturally rich and diverse demographics of our city (34% free and reduced lunch, 24% Latino and 14% African-American). While on the board at PCHS, Allison worked to create a balanced budget of approximately $30 million each year. As a board member one of Allison’s final actions was to approve a PALI-UTLA agreement. This agreement is an example of what can happen when teachers, bargaining units, administrators, and boards look at the entire budget and determine what is best for students. With Allison’s legal and governance background, she consistently led and allocated resources based on students’ needs first.
Allison has been a champion for social justice and maintaining diversity at public schools. When LAUSD abruptly halted bussing to PCHS, forcing students from disadvantaged areas to go back to their sending schools, Allison took action. She lobbied on behalf of families from all over the city, encouraging PCHS to pay for all current students’ transportation so they could graduate from PCHS. Allison also assisted in creating transportation options at PCHS to ensure that incoming PCHS students from outside the neighborhood could continue to attend PCHS.
As a parent, Allison has served public schools as a volunteer in countless capacities:
Chair of various booster organizations, sports team parent, auction fundraising chair, parent assistant in elementary school class rooms, teach appreciation event coordinator, just to name a few. As a National Collegiate Debate Champion, Allison most recently co-founded the PCHS debate team where she continues to serve as the coach for students.
Allison’s three children Alex, Lucy and Carter are all public school graduates, are now in college. Allison, has spent the last eighteen years working at public schools making a difference for thousands of students. Having navigated her children through Los Angeles public schools over the last 20 years, Allison has a fresh perspective of the needs of students. Allison comes from a family of educators. Two of her sisters are elementary school teachers, her mother a retired college counselor and her stepmother, a retired high school teacher.
- Caprice Young, Former Board Chair, LAUSD
- Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
- Palisades News
- National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), Los Angeles County Committee (LACC)
- Women's Political Committee (WPC) - State PAC
- Speak Up
- Josh Elson, Chair Visual and Performing Arts, UTLA Teacher
- Adam Wolman, Creative Consultant/Producer, Vice President of Communication Palisades Democratic Club
- Nancy Cassaro Fracchiolla, Drama and Production. UTLA Teacher
- Kate Anderson, Executive Director, Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships
- Pam Magee, Ed.D.,Executive Director/Principal, Palisades Charter High School
I’ve seen the difference a local community, responsible school board, and great teachers and leaders can make for our students. I was fortunate to attend a local public school in Southern California. My teacher, Mr. Roper, recruited me to be on the debate team. He had a profound impact on my life. After graduating high school, I honestly believed that anything was possible. Every student deserves a Mr. Roper! I went to UCLA and became a National Champion Debater. Recognizing the importance of critical thinking, I am the debate coach at Palisades Charter High School (PCHS). I have a law degree from Loyola Law School and have served as an elected member of the PCHS Board of Trustees for the last six years.
Becoming a parent was the impetus for my involvement in Los Angeles public schools. My traditional law career took a back seat to a student-focused career – specifically their education. I jumped in head first – assisting at all their schools – volunteering in the classrooms, teaching debate, re-writing charters, fundraising and serving as an elected school board member.
I quickly realized that high quality schools require effort on the part of their communities and these schools are not available in ALL zip codes. In 5th grade my son brought home a friend from an underserved area of LA. His grandmother wanted a better education for him because his local school was inferior. We learned that hundreds of kids were taking busses for several hours each day to attend the Palisades Complex. It was worth the commute with great teachers like Ms. Haga, Mr. Honda, Ms. Fracchiolla, Ms. Newbill, Mr. Lee, Ms. Martin, Ms. Saiza, and Mr. Steil. Sadly, thousands of students on waitlists were denied the opportunity to attend these excellent schools. Bound by their zip codes, many students with no other educational options attend low quality schools.
Wanting to support ALL kids, I have spent the last 18 years working at public schools. I have been a governing board member at Palisades Elementary, Paul Revere Charter Middle School and PCHS. PCHS has 3000 students from 100 zip codes representing the culturally rich and diverse demographics of Los Angeles. This school has a $30 million budget and negotiates with PALI-UTLA, a bargaining unit for teachers. The Board is comprised of members ranging from educators, students, parents and lawyers to financial experts. With differing backgrounds, members share opinions, take action, and allocate resources based on students’ needs first.
I was instrumental in establishing governing policies that ensure decisions are student focused, discourage micro-managing and encourage oversight of excellent instruction. PCHS had a revolving door of leadership due in part to a Board that would micro-manage its leader. For the past six years, Pali has experienced stable leadership. I also served on 13 school committees ranging from Risk Management and Fundraising to Facilities. Having local control of funding and decisions enabled our Board to retain talent and create innovative programs. This experience taught me that the most important role of a school board is to act in the best interest of its students. It is also imperative to govern with the utmost responsibility and balance budgets.
My kids are now 18, 20 and 22. Thanks to public schools in our area: Alex is a musician pursuing a career as a recording engineer; Lucy is studying environmental science at UC Irvine, currently in Indonesia with a shark conservation project; and our youngest, Carter, is pursuing a degree in Photography at Art Center College of Design. It is time for me to give back.
I am ready to represent Board District 4 at LAUSD and commit to: (1) adopt a students’ first agenda; (2) support excellent educational choices for ALL students and localized autonomy for schools in general; and (3) address gross budgetary shortfalls in a fiscally responsible manner. Let’s UNIFY LOS ANGELES SCHOOLS and create excellent educational choices for ALL students.