1. I’m assuming this is for Marlene Canter’s seat?

    Now we need a Burning Mom for Julie Korenstein’s district. One that is not so tied to NE Valley special interests and someone WITH children in the district–please! Anyone with ties to Mighty Mayor Shoulderpads is kindly requested to NOT apply.

  2. I’d like to recommend Bill Ring for Local District 3 to replace Marlene Canter who is not going to run.

    Several things I like about Bill Ring is that he’s unaffiliated with any person or group. Bill is the closest thing to a regular parent I’ve seen and he has had the most sincere interest in righting what’s wrong in education. And he’s done it mostly on his own dime. I can’t think of many people who have taken so much of their time researching education issues, budgets and gone to so many ed meetings, regardless of how important or mundane they’ve been.

    Bill Ring has walked the walk imo.

  3. And for those interested, 12 noon Saturday is the deadline to “pull papers” to declare intent to run. From there, signatures must be gathered, etc.


  4. My botched LAUSD run

    I live in LAUSD district 4, my home school is district in 4, my house is practically in the center of the district. I filed last Wednesday to run for school board. I schlepped past downtown to the city’s clerk office and filed papers to run in my district. I knew I was already behind the other candidates in that many had already created an election committee and even collected close to $25,000.

    I did not let that discourage me because I was not planning on collecting a large campaign coffer. In fact, I was hoping to spend less than $1,000 on the campaign, instead relying on people like me: public school parents who want for all children what they want for their own: safe schools, qualified and respect staff, well stocked libraries, arts in the classroom and real instruction instead of constant testing. In fact, I did not want contributions because I feel any money given to me a donor should give to a school. I have a core of other public school moms and many friends who don’t have kids but just know that we need good public schools waiting in the wings to hit the pavement, hand out flyers and be part of change.

    Less than 4 hours after I filed, I got a call from the city clerk’s office. I don’t live in district 4 and it was necessary for me to withdrawal my application which I did. I know I am not a genius but I am sure that my map reading skills are not that bad. I looked again at the LAUSD website map for district 4. I had a few friends look. For all of us, I clearly live in district 4. David Tokosky a former board member was sure I live in district 4.

    After conferring with the city clerk’s office (and getting my hands on a map from a great producer at channel 4), it was determined I don’t live in district 4. Oddly, LAUSD has one map and the county has another. The elections office goes by the county rather than the district map. There is a small 4 block area that is in district 4 for LAUSD but district 1 for the county. My question is this: why can’t LAUSD use the same map. Basically, I can’t run for school board in my own district.
    Why do I even want the trouble of running for school board? I have had an odd relationship with LAUSD. I started and run a non-profit (www.accessbooks.net) that provides books for school and community libraries. Since many schools in LAUSD are way below the recommended number of books for a school library, one would think they would welcome new, hardcover books for their libraries. In fact, the schools themselves do. Oddly, however, LAUSD library services does not want our books. In fact, they asked us to limit our donation to 300 books per school. For a school with 1500 students, this number is ridiculous. LAUSD has NO money to buy books but they refuse them. Keep in mind, these are librarians.
    The LAUSD webpage states that one way to help school is to donate books. That’s what we, with incredible donors and volunteers are trying to do. We have even heard reports from schools that LAUSD library services actually removes our books from the shelves. Their objection? We don’t buy our books pre-catalogued as this adds about a $15 cost to each book. Instead, we purchase the catalogue sticker for less than a penny and a volunteer sticks it on.

    I have made numerous attempts to have a board member take and interest in this issue. There is not one board member whose district in some way has not benefited from our program. No board member has taken an interest in fixing this situation. While we have invited many board members to visit schools we have assisted, to the best of my knowledge no board member has. I did get to meet with one board member, only because her husband knows an Access Books board member. When I asked her if she had visited any of her district’s schools assisted by Access Books, she responded, “I don’t have time to visit schools.”

    Countless parents don’t have time either. We don’t have time to bake cookies to sell. We don’t have time to work movie night. We don’t have time to sell gift wrap. But we make time because we know our schools rely on this fundraising. We are tired of fundraising while district salaries sky rocket. We are tired of fundraising while more administrators get hired. I want to be on the school board because I want parents to have a voice. I want non profits that do so much for schools to have a voice. I want the students to love school and teachers to love teaching. I know I am a dreamer, but lots of parents are dreaming and acting with me.
    For a related story go to: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/Book_Wars__Part_1_Los_Angeles.html

  5. Day 1.

    Running for office is more of a challenge than anyone would think. If someone is a seasoned politician, I suppose this is old hat, but there’s no “how to” book to pull the papers declaring an intent to run.

    Last week, Julie Korenstein announced she wasn’t running. I’d talked to a few personal friends, people at my daughter’s school, and ranted to my family wondering who’d run?
    I have been president of nonprofit youth groups, and I’m a vice president of my daughter’s PTA, and I even was elected to serve on the school site council. I know you throw your name in the hat and people vote. But this is Los Angeles, and things are more complicated.

    At 4:30 on Friday afternoon, I started receiving phone calls that a local politician was interested in running for school board and already has Mayor Villaraigosa’s endorsement. I called the election office, and I found out the filing deadline was 12 noon on Saturday. How could anyone make that big of a decision in less than a week? Heck, I took longer than that to decide each school my kids attended. To buy a little time, and to learn about the process, I decided I would at least “pull papers.” So far what I’ve learned is that it’s not a matter of raising my hand and then asking people to vote.

    Driving to downtown LA at 7:30 on a Saturday morning was a breeze; finding the building was a challenge. The nice guard said several people were already there for the same thing, and we could park, but he had no idea where we needed to go. So park we did, and then I spotted the gentlemen walking around with papers and arrows pointing in various directions. We were directed to the third floor. Everyone stands in line, stands at a counter and gets handed a dizzying array of forms to fill out and sign.

    My legal name, which might actually be the longest in recorded history is definitely not made for forms, and definitely doesn’t roll off the tongue like someone aspiring for political office–but I squeezed it on the forms.

    Next was my position. This is the designation that goes below the candidate’s name. I could say “youth coach,” I could say “writer,” but those are all part-time gigs. My full-time position that qualifies me for school board is surviving LAUSD for over 13 years. Since “Magnet Yenta” is an acquired term, I went with “Parent.” I briefly toyed with “Parent Advocate” but that already sounds like I’m trying too hard. So now the LA Times is referring to me as “parent Angelique Zobel-Rodriguez.” The nice thing about calling myself a parent is I know exactly what date I started that position: 11-08-1990. And on the morning of my son’s 18th birthday I was administered an oath declaring that I was running for office of my own free will.

    The blur that followed included trying to follow the directions of the wonderful clerk, while attempting to block out distractions that included the photos being taken as a city councilperson came to file, the video camera of a community blogger documenting to process, and someone requesting to see the information of another candidate. Next I moved next door to discuss campaign financing with the ethics department. They automatically assume people will solicit donations and finance a campaign with over $1000, and that requires filing with the IRS, bank accounts, and campaign treasurers. So I begin wondering if an actively involved parent has a remote chance of getting elected, and how many cupcakes that would take.

    Many of the papers I decided to take with me. If I had been willing to wait three or so hours, I could have received my petitions, too. But, being a parent and a youth coach, have commitments. I’ll have to go back on Monday. I was able to get to my youth program before they started at 9:30, so no one was impacted by my absence.

    The fact that a sitting school board member isn’t running and yet only five people filed for intent is a little sad. As frustrated as everyone is with LAUSD I figured there would be a dozen or more folks running–different factions. I’m hoping to hear what other candidates say.

    I’ve been helping parents in this part of the Valley for years–explaining magnet programs, SAS, open enrollment, and other programs. I’ve given seminars, I’ve taken phone calls from frantic parents, and I’ve helped parents on various websites and blogs. I fought hard against what we all knew would be the illegal takeover with AB1381, and I even argued against moving the school year up to start in early August. But it’s all been framed in the simple context of “what’s best for the kids?” Who in their right mind would ask for a virtually full-time job for less than part-time pay, all while enduring an extremely nasty attack campaign (as every campaign has been in the Northeast Valley for over a dozen years)? Yet with the biggest budget cuts still looming for next school year, I wonder who’ll be able to hit the ground running and know the actual history of the district? And I wonder who will actually stick with it and not use it as yet another political stepping stone on the way to bigger name recognition. I’ve actually spoken to two of the other candidates, and have an email in to a third, but I’m not expecting a reply. The fourth is a new member to one of the education sites I belong to, so perhaps I’ll message her and see what she’s thinking as well.

    Because in the end, we should all be in this for the same reason.


    Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

  6. Petitions have been picked up as of lunchtime today. And now 1000-2000 signatures must be collected–all from voters within my district before December 3rd. Makes me yearn for a bigger family.

    So far it’s been quiet except for a few blogs which are already making predictions of backroom deals and laying odds on political careers. Apparently being a parent makes you a long-shot to people who discuss politics all day. To the one parent who called me “the intelligent choice” in the comments section–thanks! I’d settle for common sense choice, too.


  7. Angel: I wished I lived in your district and could sign for you. Perhaps your fellow Yenta with the big radio voice can help you with an introduction to Steve Lopez. Your story, as described in the post above, would seem tailor made for one of his columns.

  8. Hey Kester Dad,

    Duh! I’ll stop short of saying I’m Angel’s campaign manager, because I have zero experience in school board campaigns, but I definitely plan to be “head of Angel’s posse.” Perhaps the person who whips the crowd up into a rhythmic “Woo woo”-ing before the goddess speaks. You know, the simple things.

    And yes, periomenopausal media flack with unpredictably creative methods, of course.

    In a lather of excitement,

  9. Angel I’m in your district (at least I think so; Korenstein was my rep, as it were). I’ll sign your petition, absolutely!

  10. Hi again, all. Thanks for the support.

    After a very small splash on a few blogs, the buzz on this seat has gone cold. Apparently Los Angeles bloggers feel the race isn’t worth more than a quick look. I find it interesting that spending 13 years successfully navigating one son through the patchwork of schools doesn’t count as “serious.” Since I’ve got another full 10 years of LAUSD until my daughter graduates, that means I’m in this for the long haul–this isn’t another “term limits gone wrong” story.

    As a mom, I spend countless hours doing thankless jobs–I’m used to being ignored. But as a concerned community member, I was also out there advocating for the kids in the entire district. So I’ll ask this: What does all that volunteer “mom” advocating amount to? I could apologize for not keeping a resume up to date, or looking for photo ops, but I never thought that I’d need to validate what I do in my spare time.

    What does spending virtually an entire summer speaking out against state bill AB1381 amount to? Even a “bowling mom” could see it wouldn’t pass constitutional muster, but people in the Northeast Valley seemed downright afraid to challenge the will of the Mayor of Los Angeles. I spoke out at San Fernando City Council Meetings, even imploring officials to at least read the President’s Joint Commission on LAUSD Governance.

    And what about sitting through nearly every meeting for construction for both Valley Region Elementary School #5 and Valley Region High School #8? Even the ones I didn’t attend I asked for the PDF files to be sent to me via email. There were times when I felt I could give the history of the projects better than the district employee. It was rare that elected officials graced us with their presence, because for most of them, this wasn’t on their radar.

    And giving seminars to help parents find the right public school for their kids means what? I’ve given seminars in my city, been asked to speak to PTAs outside my district, and taken frantic phone calls and emails from parents all needing help with open enrollment, SAS, magnet, and other school choice options. I haven’t even asked for a cup of coffee doing these seminars. It’s about getting information out to other parents.

    And years of experience while leading a San Fernando Valley 501(c)3 youth program, working with the local school site council, running for the PTA, including budgeting, fund raising, and consensus building is worth what?

    The fact is last year’s LAUSD budget absorbed a $190 million budget cut, and this year’s cut is expected to be $440 million. What is going to go this year? Are the ever-increasing salaries downtown on the chopping block? Will 20:1 student to teacher ratios be saved? And how can we keep families *in* LAUSD? Right now, parents are voting–with their feet–and leaving in droves. The school district has to provide a product that meets the needs of all students in a way that parents don’t run from. The question voters need to ask is who is in this race, and for what reason?

    After this election cycle is over in March, or May, I’ll still be doing what I do, because it’s who I am.

    OK, I’ll put the soap box away.

  11. Go Angel, go!!!! I wish I could sign for you as well… If I meet parents from your district, I will send them your way. It takes incredible courage and energy to do what you’re doing. You Go, Girl!

  12. Angel,
    Wow. That’s some story. I’ll be on the sidelines cheering you all the way. Too bad I live in a different district, but you got my support. Go out there and show ’em. A-change is a-coming!!

    And Rebecca…unbelievable. Completely unbelievable. That is, if it weren’t just so, as with everything else in this district, believable!!

  13. Wow, congratulations! I just read about Angel’s run for school board in Sandra’s Op-Ed in the New York Times. I just completed a successful (well, it’s not certified yet but it looks very good) run for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education. It was hard. I can’t imagine doing it in a massive district like LAUSD. You GO, girl! Please email me privately if you want mom-to-mom encouragement. I’m not sure I would have any advice you don’t already know but if I can be helpful in any way please let me know. We need to get more public school parents (not political wannabes) on local school boards!!!!

  14. Oh, I do have two pieces of generic advice and they are the most important aspects to winning a school board race:
    Most voters pay no attention to school board races. They make their decisions on name recognition and whether they recognize (and approve of) the people endorsing you. So get out there and get as many principals, teachers, community leaders and local politicians to endorse you as you possibly can. And you need a web site pronto! Just set up a free blog if you can’t afford anything else. It doesn’t need to be fancy or slick – just something people will easily remember and where you can stick information like your platform and your endorsement list. And a “donate” link (you can set up an online credit card donation page at clickandpledge.com for about $50.)

  15. Angel,
    I think that you are a hero for putting yourself out there. Not just for running for the Board seat,but for all that you do for our children.
    I am also a mom out fighting for our kids. I am happy to say that there is someone else running for this seat that is 100% for the kids. It is Louis Pugliese, a retired LAUSD
    Teacher, Currently teaching at CSUN. If you decide not to run which is the way it sounded at the Top of the Blog. Please Let me know. I would love for you to meet him.

  16. I actually did meet Louis at the City Clerk’s office last month when I pulled papers. And I’m well aware of his run for Jon Lauritzen’s school board seat two years ago.

    I’m concerned about some inaccuracies in his blog, but I’m sure he’ll talk to the candidates and get the story straight.

  17. Well, now the games can go on without me. Thanks to all those who supported and cheered me on. In the end, it comes down to the fact I can’t make a serious run knowing what I’d have to give up.

    Being essentially a stay-at-home mom with a part-time job, I’m hardly in a financial position to support my own campaign. Some have suggested I interview with the special interest groups, and do what no one else has had the courage to do–be sponsored by an organization, and once in office, tell them to take a flying leap (not necessarily in so many words), and vote with my conscience. Aside from feeling terribly disingenuous for that, I’d spend the term defending myself. Truthfully, each group has a right to endorse whomever they want, and get the representation they seek. In addition, the paperwork involved in campaigns is something that takes a staff to manage. With the added manpower, comes the loss of control, and soon I’m relying on people for things I don’t have a firm grasp on. Not to mention the whole point of staying home is to be with my daughter and be an active force in her school on a variety of levels. While I’d be helping many children, the ones I have the most vested interest in would be sacrificed.

    My knowledge of the school district from a parent’s view (from the consumer level if you will) and my desire to make the public schools and the district a place parents *want* to send their children would have been clouded by many issues. First of race (I married in to the Rodriguez clan, folks, and in another shocker, this Angel is female). I’m further crippled by my inability to speak Spanish. I truly admire the officials who’ve learned an additional language. I apologize, but if you’d heard my humble attempts at German in high school, you’d realize that my language acquisition gene is lacking. Thankfully my son has taken both Japanese and Spanish so I did not pass this defect on to my children. In addition, in the Northeast Valley my political beliefs would cause pause (it’s hard to believe in a nonpartisan office, as a “decline-to-state” I’d be forced to “come out.” Unfortunately, my “decline-to-state” isn’t a cute way of hiding a party affiliation in a predominantly Democratic stronghold, it’s a lack of an actual political party that represents what I am. I’m an egalitarian–I tend to loathe Democrats and Republicans equally). And in the end the privacy of my family and especially my children is something I refuse to violate. My desire to publish or post is mine alone. I don’t intend to be a distraction to my family.

    And all the time, I’d have to wonder who in their right mind wants to try to fix this product given the insane level of cuts that are coming–perhaps even before this election. Could I be a true leader of school change if, as class sizes zoom to 25-to-1 or larger, I end up homeschooling my daughter? Anyone who promises to not increase class size, or promises to keep any program funded at this point is either a liar or a fool. I have a checkbook, I know what’s in it, and what I have to cut when my income drops. But when faced between increasing class size or closing smaller schools, I might as well offer to cut off my right arm.

    I will continue to be an active member of my school community. I didn’t move into this area fifteen years ago to run for office. I bought my historic home, and I truly hope to live here forever. Further, my daughter has 10 years left in the school system until I can say she’s launched. And given the reality that poor public schools continue to drag down already sagging property values, I’m going to keep fighting for more accountability at the school and district level. And families in my neighborhood deserve an opportunity to choose where attend, be it for specific programs, different teaching philosophies, or for a better “fit.” I still maintain that a kid who gets up and wants to go to school every morning is an easier kid to deal with than the kid who is forced.

    Can you tell I’m frustrated? I’d really like to thank term limits for creating this whole network of career politicians who plot election to election not unlike a connect the dots puzzle. Safe, midterm elections offer pols the chance to test the waters and yet have a safe place to land in an ill-advised run. Others want jobs so badly they move from district to district attempting to get the nod from some, any, group of voters. But get a parent involved who sent her firstborn off to the college of his choice on a scholarship, despite living in one of the worst local districts, and somehow it’s not worth a second glance by the media or the other candidates themselves.

    I have attempted to get ahold of one of the candidates, who has yet to respond to me. I want to speak to both of the candidates and make sure they understand the real needs of this district–not the blah blah blah that elections become.

    To those who believed in me, I apologize, but this isn’t even a cause I can believe one person can solve.

  18. Angel:

    So much of what you write resonates with me…and I certainly understand your level of frustration. My story has many similarities as a parent volunteer and advocate since 1995 when the first of my two children entered LAUSD schools.

    Like you, I threw my hat in the ring for a seat on the Board of Ed (Board District #4). Here’s some of the joy of being a candidate that you didn’t get to experience:

    On December 3 at 4:45pm, I walked into the city clerk’s election division office with nominating petitions holding less than 600 signatures for a process that requires a minimum of 500 valid registered voters…who reside within the boundaries of Board District #4. As I had over 500 signatures but less than 1,000, I had the privilege of writing a check for $300 to the City of Los Angeles.

    Since then, I have been called by the city clerk three times about irregularities in paperwork submitted by several of the petition circulators (what were you saying about loss of control?) In each case, the circulator has to take time to drive down to the clerk’s office, explain the error and initial required changes in order for the names on their petitions to be considered in the final tally. This is all before checking to ensure that each signature is that of a valid registered voter. As of this writing, it appears touch and go…so I may not survive to run but like you, I will continue to be a voice for transparency and accountability, choice and site-based decision making (even as I know many sites still lack the capacity to make decisions in true partnership).

    If I do survive to run, while I agree that one person can’t “solve” this, I know that it takes four votes to make anything happen at the Board. As you state, given the impact of looming budget cuts, it will be a struggle, perhaps impossible (and largely thankless) work for whomever is elected to make decisions in the best interests of children. I know you would have been an authentic voice in the effort to wrest control of the institution from those who would keep parents busy with bake sales, field trips and yard duty…oh yes, and signing off on the school budget without an explanation.

    So don’t apologize. Let’s fight to change the way we fund public education in California.

    Thank you for all you do on behalf of parents and families.


    Bill Ring
    Candidate, Los Angeles City Board of Education, District #4

  19. Thanks, Bill!

    I personally didn’t know 500, let alone 1,000 in my district, and was terrified of the prospect you’re going through now. I wish you good luck, and hope your signatures pass muster. It’s amazing to me that school board seats require the same number of signatures as a city-wide office. *sigh*

  20. I spoke with candidate Louis Pugliese last night by telephone.

    I heartily encourage everyone in School Board District 6 (roughly local district 2) to please check out his website http://www.lausd2009.com and view his platform. He’s got experience as a teacher, a professor, and most importantly, as a parent.

    We’ll be meeting next week, and I’ll have more to report then.

  21. Angel,
    Thank You for taking the time to speak with Louis.
    I was with both Louis and Bill Ring Yesterday at the S.L.A.P. Meeting.
    Hopefully Bills Qualification gets straightened out.
    Louis really is in this for the kids, You won’t be dissapointed.
    You are appreciated for all of your hard work and caring.
    Have a Happy Holiday,

  22. I can see how elections will keep the economy going. Despite not turning in the petitions, I’ve been contacted by signmakers hoping to get my business, and in the last 24 hours I’ve been contacted by the LAUSD police officers union people and now the Sierra Club looking to interview for endorsements. I guess they don’t keep up to date on the LA City Clerk’s website to see who’s still in the race. Maybe it’s me, but I’m surprised to find out the Sierra Club is interested in the LA School Board race. I’ll post back if I get any more neat phone calls. Now if Starbucks had a lobby, there’s a group I could be the poster child for. 🙂

    Seriously it makes me realize we actually do need a parenting lobby that isn’t affiliated with a specific school/charter. If candidates will get pulled by this many organizations, and the kids can’t vote yet, then we need to keep being visible and vocal.

  23. Hi Amy,

    In district 6, my favorite candidate, didn’t turn in her papers (and, no, it wasn’t me).

    This might have to be an election where I take a pass on both candidates and let people who feel passionately about either candidate vote with their hearts. I’ve met both people and they both bring different assets to the table. I also strongly disagree with some of their opinions on other issues.

    I guess that’s the long way of saying I’m not endorsing either candidate.

  24. The race for School Board District 4—Marlene Canter’s seat—has already been fraught with signature mishaps derailing 2 viable contenders, Green Dot’s Ben Austin and long-time parent advocate Bill Ring. Only 2 candidates remain: Mike Stryer and Steve Zimmer, both HS teachers, both passionate, and both ostensibly wanting what’s best for our kids.

    I had the chance to hear them speak at a recent forum hosted by WPEF, and have also spoken personally to both candidates. After careful consideration, for me there is a clear choice. The only viable candidate, and who I am publicly endorsing, is Mike Stryer.

    Hearing them both speak side by side, while Zimmer has a big heart—especially in his work with the underserved—given the opportunity he couldn’t seem to answer any question with a clear, direct answer. He’s backed by labor unions including the UTLA, and claims he can bring everyone to the table to “dialogue” together, but he’s a shoe-gazer and a rambler, and worse, non-direct in what he would do specifically. He seemed to be more concerned about protecting the district’s status as the largest city employer, than what effect those bloated construction budgets have in funneling monies away from the classroom. I felt he was doing a lot of verbal tap-dancing. In our current climate, we certainly don’t need to be bogged down with endless talk. We need action. Are we running schools for kids or an employment agency?

    Stryer—who is backed by the LA Times, the Daily News and Daily Breeze—is all for financial accountability. With a background in international business, a Stanford and Yale graduate, he comes across direct, smart, and without ties. His goal is to clean up the district’s financial bloat and re-channel monies back where they belong: to the local schools and students. He also supports models of local autonomy, especially in schools where the parents are sometimes raising as much or more than the school’s operating budget, and publicly backed the WPEF pledge to hold LAUSD to its promises of autonomy as a member of iDesign, a model other Westside schools are watching closely.

    To me, it was clear by a landslide: Mike Stryer comes off as straight, to the point, efficient, and a clear leader. And a true independent.

    But see for yourself. There will be another debate Monday, Feb 23rd at UCLA, Moore Hall #100, 7-9p.

    Tanya Anton

    Author, “Westside Guide to Public Elementary Schools:
    Navigating Magnets, Charters, Permits & More”

  25. I agree with Tanya’s concise assessment. Mike is our best chance for an independent who is not afraid to be an advocate for parents and kids in Board District #4.

    The current board member, Marlene Canter, has also just endorsed him.

    Bill Ring
    Organizer, Local District 3 Parent Community Advisory Council
    Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

  26. Pingback: Rebecca constantino | OlPera

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