The list of candidates running for the District 1 seat with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) could be the best field of educators in recent years to compete for the board of education.
The seven hopefuls, Genethia Hudley-Hayes, Alex Johnson, Rachel Johnson (no relation), Omarosa Manigault, Hattie McFrazier, George McKenna and Sherlett Hendy-Newbill represent two generations of Los Angeles educators, several of whom have attended LAUSD schools and most all have taught within the district.
Their ideas for helping to boost student performance in District 1 range from reopening campus libraries, to encouraging better teacher development as well as modification to the controversial Common Core nationwide instructional standards.
Hudley-Hayes formerly served two terms on the school board, once taught in the district’s Child Development Division and is a curriculum specialist. “If the school day itself can be part of the ‘safety net’ for kids, crime and safety can be better addressed,” she said this month.
Alex Johnson is a senior advisor and deputy to Los Angeles County supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Second District), has worked with First 5 LA, the Freedom Schools and is an advocate of early childhood education. “We can bridge the ‘digital divide’ in South Los Angeles but that should not come at the expense of a good teacher,” he said in referring to the distribution of iPads to secondary school pupils.
Rachel Johnson is a member of the Gardena City Council, has taught in the LAUSD for more than 30 years and is an alternate representative to the Southern California Association of Governments and the West Basin Water Association. “Teachers that are struggling in their practice need professional development and support that enables pedagogical improvement,” she said when asked about the best methods to evaluate faculty.
Manigault, who once worked for Vice President Al Gore, is an ordained minister and a former reality TV star. She is nearing completion of her Ph.D. in communications at Howard University and is a staunch believer in better teacher training which can “foster more motivation” among pupils that can raise the District 1 high school graduation rate.
McFrazier has taught in the LAUSD for more than 30 years, is a community and union activist and is endorsed by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). She is a former director of the UTLA Department of Health and Human Services. McFrazier believes not enough attention is being paid to the specific needs of District 1 students, specifically those pupils requiring ESL (English as a Second Language) preparation. “Early childhood education is the foundation of social, emotional and academic progress for students,” she said.
McKenna is an administrator with the Inglewood Unified School District, former principal of Washington Preparatory School in South Los Angeles and has received more than 400 education/civic citations. He began his teaching career locally in 1962. “We must be strategic in allocating funds in the LAUSD, and the District 1 representative must be unapologetic in requesting more funding,” he said last week.
Newbill is a teacher at Dorsey High School in the Crenshaw District, is a past recreational director with the Job Corp, coaches girl’s basketball at her campus and is the lead instructor with the school’s Innovative Small Learning Academies. She said this month that early learning is a priority that can’t be put off because “…such basic skills if not mastered by high school” can only encourage a kid to drop out of school.