The heat is on. Kate Anderson, an activist mom and successful attorney with political chops — she worked for Congress members Henry Waxman and Jane Harman — will try to oust Steve Zimmer, the Westside's man on Los Angeles Unified School Board, in March 2013.
Zimmer has emerged as a fierce opponent of charter schools and teacher evaluations to root out LAUSD's 1,000, impossible-to-fire, lemon teachers. Zimmer's Board of Education votes — he consistently shields United Teachers Los Angeles from reform and change — place Zimmer out of step with Westside voters who elected him. So he's vulnerable. Enter Kate Anderson, who says:
“Steve and I have worked together as co-chairs of an education committee, and I know that he has a good heart and is trying to do a good job.” But Zimmer has no children in LAUSD — only board member Tamar Galatzan has kids actually attending LAUSD.
Anderson says, “I disagree with Steve's resolution” — Zimmer is fighting a reform to seriously evaluate LAUSD's 33,000 teachers, the vast majority of whom, including the bad ones, the troubled ones, even the desk-sleepers, get a useless “satisfactory” rating each year.
Anderson goes on: “Steve told me, 'Well, if we just wait,' because the 'common core curriculum' is coming into effect soon. So he says, 'Let's just wait for that, and then let's wait for a test to come out based on that, and then we can evaluate teachers.”
Anderson, of Mar Vista, who has two twin girls in the third grade on the Westside, explains: “I said, 'I can't wait Steve. Parents have said to me, 'Kate we need a parents' perspective.' My girls are in the third grade, but they will be graduating [from high school] practically tomorrow — it happens so fast. Parents cannot wait.”
“I am frustrated with our system of evaluating teachers — or our lack of system. I have had tremendous teachers for my girls — Darvy and Emeline. But LAUSD isn't doing nearly enough to celebrate, support and promote those teachers.”
Anderson ran for state assembly in 2010 against Betsy Butler, the now-embattled Westside legislator. (Butler quietly abstained from voting on a state law that would have let school districts more easily fire sex perverts, drug addicts and other egregious-acting teachers.)
Kate Anderson lost that 2010 assembly race to Butler. But Butler has gained negative, nationwide attention from CNN's Anderson Cooper on 360, after L.A. Weekly revealed how Butler abstained from voting to kill the teacher sex-pervert reform law.
Now Betsy Butler is locked in a too-close-to call November 6 in her race for the seat in Assembly District 50 against Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom.
Although Anderson lost her first political race ever to Butler in 2010, Anderson somehow raised $400,000, mostly from individuals rather than PACs and huge corporations. That's rare.
Political consultants say Kate Anderson's Rolodex of individuals willing to give her money is not to be dismissed — if combined with big infusions of cash from deep-pocketed reformists such as former Mayor Richard Riordan or Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
A comment from Zimmer will be added if he returns the Weekly's call.
Please read LA Weekly's previous coverage on LAUSD and Steve Zimmer: