By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Tokofsky's problem has been that he hasn't often been able to persuade his colleagues to undertake the changes that need to be made. In his zeal -- a quality not otherwise found on the current board -- he has needlessly, or heedlessly anyway, stepped on other board members' toes and trod upon their turf. His failure to win Horton over more consistently to the cause of accountability is one of the central mysteries of the district; the fault surely lies on both sides.
But no one on the board, or even near it, has the kind of plausible, innovative ideas to better the system that Tokofsky comes up with practically weekly. Most recently, he's been the chief proponent of establishing an internal audit process and an inspector general, so that -- heresy of heresies -- the board can actually monitor the district.
Four years ago, Tokofsky engendered some controversy by seeking (and winning) election in a district that was carved out to have a Latino majority. This time around, he's endorsed by many of the same elected Latino leaders who opposed him in his last outing. His opponent, Yolie Aguilar, is an appointed board member of the rather low-voltage L.A. County Office of Education, which was one of the last strongholds of the dubious pedagogy of Whole Language curricula.
Ironically, as he campaigns for his second term, the pariah is becoming a prophet. Tokofsky has become the touchstone for education reform, the one board member whose initiatives the other challengers consistently commend. This suggests that a re-elected Tokofsky may wield far greater clout than he did in his first term. We hope that's the case, and we strongly recommend his re-election.
7th District -- Mike Lansing
You could do a lot worse than incumbent George Kiriyama, now completing his first term on the board. There are George Kiriyamas sitting on school boards across L.A. County -- across the country, for that matter. A retired adult-school principal whose chief preoccupation is insisting on due process for all LAUSD employees, Kiriyama's service on the board is the capper to a life spent in education. There's no pedagogical agenda here, no particular zeal for reform, just good-guy decency.
Problem is, we're not talking East Podunk Unified here, but the nation's second largest and most complex school system, which happens to be in something of a crisis. That's a challenge, unfortunately, that we don't think Kiriyama is up to. Kiriyama tends to rely heavily both on the district bureaucracy and on the union leadership, neither one a flawless weather-vane for educational policy.
His opponent, the 42-year-old Mike Lansing, was a teacher and administrator for 17 years in Catholic schools in San Pedro. For the past four years, he's been executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of San Pedro, which by numerous accounts he's built up both qualitatively and quantitatively (the annual budget has more than tripled during his tenure there). Lansing brings to the campaign a level of energy, a record of innovation in after-school programs, and an insistence both on standards and on the special programs that enable students to meet those standards, that make him our clear choice in this southside district.
LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT, MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Office No. 1 -- Sylvia Scott-Hayes
Office No. 3 -- Mona Field
Office No. 5 -- Georgia Mercer
Office No. 7 -- Warren T. Furutani
Over the past year, the Community College District has begun to institute ã some of the fundamental kinds of changes that still elude the LAUSD. Under the new leadership of trustees Elizabeth Garfield and Kelly Candaele, the board has moved to give individual campuses the flexibility to develop academic and vocational programs, along with the responsibility for their own budgets. In each of the following election recommendations, we've endorsed a candidate who's committed to push the reform agenda even further.
In Office No. 1, we support Sylvia Scott-Hayes, who heads up the Testing Center and who helped found the Writing Center at Cal State L.A. Though you wouldn't know it from her name, she'd also be the only Latino member of this at-large board.
In Office No. 3, we support Glendale Community College professor Mona Field over 12-year incumbent Julia Wu, who's always been a featherweight force in board deliberations, and challenger Jules Bagneris III, an energetic and politically active minister. Field is probably the single best-qualified nonincumbent candidate for any office on the April ballot. As head of the teachers union local on the Glendale campus (which is not part of the L.A. district), Field has fostered the very kind of labor-management-student-community relations almost never found on college campuses: collegial relations. She's an educational reformer who has demonstrated she knows how to enlist her fellow teachers in that cause.
In Office No. 5, we support Georgia Mercer, who was appointed to the board nine months ago to fill the vacancy created by the death of Kenneth Washington. Mercer has already played a key role in making campuses accountable for their budgets and course offerings, and in beefing up the district's lobbying prowess.
Our choice in Office No. 7 is Warren Furutani, a former member of the LAUSD board and currently the director of Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa's Office of Asian-Pacific-American Affairs. While hardly the most dynamic of reformers, he's a firm supporter of the decentralization plan. His opponent, Mark Isler, is one of the few truly flaming Gingrichesque right-wingers on the April ballot.