An LAUSD Star is Born

Carl J. Petersen
Feb 2, 2019 · 4 min read

This Governing Board is held accountable to traditional public schools first.

- Tyler Okeke

In a system where money is considered speech, those who cannot afford to buy a microphone are at a disadvantage. As the teachers’ union and the charter school industry spend millions influencing LAUSD elections, the students the District is supposed to serve struggle to have their voice heard. Fortunately for them, their lone representative on the School Board, Tyler Okeke, spoke for them at last Tuesday’s Board meeting in a voice that could not be ignored.

While the Charter School Industry was admonishing the Board with slogans such as “kids, not politics” in an attempt to prevent the passage of a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools, it was the charter operatives who were using students as pawns. With a misinformation campaign that left families fearing that all charter schools were suddenly in danger of closure, an emotional gathering of students bussed in by their charter schools descended upon LAUSD’s Beaudry headquarters. Okeke addressed them directly:

The only effect of the resolution passed on Tuesday was a request that will be made of leaders in Sacramento to enact a temporary pause in the opening of new charter schools within the LAUSD. During this pause, these same state leaders are asked to look into the effects on students of the 25-year old law that authorized charters:

Each charter school has a governing board that is responsible for the students of that school. Despite the millions of dollars that the California Charter School Association has spent to stack the LAUSD School Board with its supporters, this Board’s ultimate responsibility is to the students who attend the schools operated by the LAUSD. With this in mind Okeke planted a flag as he closed his speech:

Like all of the adult members of the LAUSD School Board with the exception of Nick Melvoin, Okeke voted to pass the resolution. Unfortunately, his is only an advisory vote. Unlike our city’s Neighborhood Council system where youth representatives have an equal vote on anything other than funding issues, the student representative is not given a binding vote on the LAUSD Board. Since the vast majority of students are also ineligible to vote in District elections, they have no say in which adults represent them on the Board. Therefore, they have no say in the running of the District that is supposed to work on their behalf.

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Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at Opinions are his own.

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