Kelly Gonez and Rocio Rivas have declared victory in their races for seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education, increasing the influence of the teachers’ union as the school system navigates contract negotiations, recovery from the pandemic of COVID-19 and critical funding issues.
In District 6, which covers most of the eastern San Fernando Valley, outgoing school board president Gonez won 51.27% of the vote through Tuesday, compared to 48.73% for the school board teacher. Spanish high school student Marvin Rodriguez.
In District 2, which stretches from downtown and surrounding neighborhoods to the Eastside, Rocio Rivas won 52.48% of the vote against 48.71% for Maria Brenes. Brenes conceded on Wednesday and Rodriguez said this week he would wait to comment until “every vote has been counted.”
Based on count updates through Tuesday, it would be next to impossible for the winners to change at this point.
Gonez had been heavily favored by Rodriguez, whose campaign funding was overwhelmed by that of his opponent. But the contest turned out to be surprisingly close, said Dan Schnur, professor of politics at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications.
Schnur noted that “the unhappy middle class parents” had strongly opposed the length of campus closures during the pandemic and the more limited access to live online instruction in LA Unified, compared to many school systems. These parents “received immense attention,” Schnur said, and likely voted out the incumbent.
“But it’s entirely possible that many parents from lower-income and more heavily minority communities have been equally dissatisfied with their children’s education during the pandemic,” Schnur said.
Rivas won despite significantly greater financial resources for Breves, which benefited from two major independent campaigns. One was funded by Netflix founder Reed Hastings, a charter school supporter, and retired businessman Bill Bloomfield. The other was paid for by Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents most of the district’s low-wage non-teaching workers, including bus drivers, teacher’s aides, janitors and cafeteria workers. .
Rivas, in turn, was backed by United Teachers Los Angeles – as the district’s two main unions battled to have their front-runner installed in the fray of ongoing contract negotiations. Rivas, 49, a senior aide to school board member Jackie Goldberg, has also enjoyed endorsements from leftist groups and officials.
She trailed after the initial count on election night, but won steadily as the count continued and then surged ahead – eventually by more than 5,000 votes.
Rivas will replace Monica Garcia, who was unable to run again due to term limits. Charter school supporters had long backed Garcia, who was generally opposed by the teachers’ union — the polar opposite of Rivas’ political profile. Rivas called for limiting the influence and growth of charters, which are private, largely unorganized public schools. About one in five students in the district attend a charter school.
The seven-member school board will oversee the work of the recently hired superintendent. Alberto Carvalho facing learning setbacks exacerbated by the pandemic. He is also working to reach agreements with unions, which are demanding big raises to tackle inflation and the high cost of living, even as economic forecasts have turned pessimistic, threatening the district’s future revenues. .
The long-term decline in enrollment, which has accelerated during the pandemic, also puts funding at risk and is expected to lead to school closures. The odds of avoiding a recession are “slim,” the Office of the Legislative Analyst concluded in a Nov. 16 report. “Reflecting the threat of a recession, our revenue estimates represent the weakest performance the state has seen since the Great Recession,” ending in 2009.
“If LAO’s report proves accurate, we are heading into a period of budget restraints,” said John Rogers, director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.
The district’s looming financial and enrollment issues will overshadow the long-running political tussle between the teachers’ union and charter school funders that have dominated campaign funding, said USC dean Pedro Noguera. Rossier School of Education.
The race, he said, came down to “which candidate will be the most docile when it comes to negotiating with UTLA, and that appears to be Rivas.”
Members of the teachers’ union – teachers, nurses and counselors – are currently working under an expired contract and are demanding a 10% raise for this year and another 10% for next year.
Rivas said his immediate agenda would include expanding successful schools such as Bravo Medical Magnet High in Boyle Heights, which has a waiting list, and popular bilingual programs. She also wants to attract new students to the district by promoting successful programs and plans to focus on mental health issues facing students, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
Rivas said that while she supports the main policy positions of the union, she will put the interests of students and families first.
“I’m going to reach out to everyone,” Rivas said. “I will be present in all schools … even charter schools. If they invite me, I’ll be there. I am here for all voters.
“I didn’t win by a landslide, obviously,” she added. “So there’s a good population of the District 2 Council who don’t know me and I want them to know who I am.
The incumbent Gonez said she is ready for new challenges in her second term.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to continue the tireless work on behalf of the students, families and communities of the District 6 Council,” Gonez said in a statement. “As we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am ready to build a brighter future for our students with transformative and joyful learning opportunities, holistic mental health supports, and more resources for our staff. so that our communities can heal, grow and prosper.
Los Angeles Times