Angry Adult Ed Supporters Threaten Recall of LAUSD Board Members
School board president gets lion’s share of blame for cuts to adult education.
By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer
Charging that the Los Angeles Unified School District school board plans to eliminate adult and early childhood education in June, concerned adult students and educators took to the streets twice last week in protest.
Related story: LAUSD School Board President Target of Recall
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Manifestantes Amenazan con Destituir a los Miembros de la Junta de LAUSD
Their picket signs and messages increasingly threaten a recall of Board President Mónica García and her fellow members on the school board.
Hundreds of protesters from all over LA County took over Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights last Friday, March 29. LAPD Hollenbeck Police Captain Anita Ortega, who watched the protest from across the street, put the crowd at close to 500.
Much of the protesters’ anger was directed at García, who represents many of the schools on the Eastside.
“[Monica García] Nobody wants you here,” one speaker said Friday from the Mariachi Plaza stage. “When we decide to remove you, we will remove you,” someone yelled out in Spanish.
Anger-filled words on protest signs were everywhere.
“Monica: Adult Education isn’t business, isn’t luxury, isn’t politics. It’s a right,” read one protest sign. “Dump Monica,” and “Hey Monica! Next March you’ll need job training, too!” read other signs.
When asked why their posters focused on Garcia, protesters said it’s because of her background and position on the board.
“Shame on Monica García, isn’t she a Latina? Didn’t her family learn to speak English?” said Jaime Franklin, an English teacher at the adult school at Franklin High School in Highland Park.
“This is where her office is and she is board president,” Hollywood Community Adult School teacher Carlos Palm told EGP, while carrying a sign calling García a “traitor.”
Last month, the LAUSD school board approved a budget for the 2012-13 school year that maintains adult and early education, but only if furlough and salary concessions are approved by labor unions.
It also requires voters to approve a $298 tax on every parcel in the school district.
The plan was approved 6 to 1, with only Board Member Marguerite LaMotte (District 1) opposing.
However, after the vote Superintendent John Deasy cautioned that cuts could still come if UTLA doesn’t make concessions or if the governor makes more cuts to education between May and November. LAUSD has also considered cutting after-school programs and increasing class size, and over 11,000 employees have already received pink-slip layoff notices.
On Saturday in Lincoln Heights, a smaller group of protesters again rallied against the cuts to adult education and promoted a recall of García.
“RecallMonicaGarcia.com Pink Slip for Monica Garcia!” one sign read, the website is not fully developed.
An organizer at the Lincoln Park protest told EGP more information can be found at saveadulted.org and on Facebook under “Save Adult Education.”
John Fernandez, a former LAUSD teacher and school board candidate, was especially strong in his criticism of García, calling her a “vendida, hypócrita … es la muerte” (sell-out, hypocrite and death incarnate).
He accused Garcia of being loyal to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose partnership is running several schools in the city with mixed results, and noted her ties to Councilmember Jose Huizar and former school board candidate Luis Sanchez. Sanchez was one of Fernandez’s opponents in the race for the board— neither candidate won.
Epimenio Ponce attends Roosevelt-Garfield Community Adult School. He told the crowd he plans to collect recall signatures at his school. “My dream is to be somebody who can contribute to this country,” Ponce said in English and Spanish, noting that the English he knows he learned in adult school.
Not everyone at the protests was as ardently focused on García, however.
Rally organizers Curt Clyborne and Araceli Pelayo, who would only identify themselves as adult educators, downplayed the recall message. They said the purpose of the rally was to inform the public about the essential services adult education offers and the importance of coming together to preserve it.
A recall, not directed at any one board member is a consideration, but what we are really trying to do is send them the message that they are our elected representatives and “have to be attentive to our needs,” Clyborne said. Someone has to represent the people who need adult education to get a high school diploma or GED, or entry-level job skills, he said.
Clyborne said local colleges are unable to provide those forms of adult education, and “if we pull this out from under the community, there’s not going to be anything there.”
It’s nothing against just one member of the school board, Pelayo said.
“We need their support.” They were elected to represent us and our children, she said.
“It’s not just adult education, it’s early childhood, it’s the cuts to K-12, it’s everything.”
The district faces a $390.2 million budget shortfall in 2012-13. Deasy hopes approval of a parcel tax in November will generate about $170 million. But the measure could be facing a tough fight, since it requires approval by two-thirds of voters — the same voters who rejected a smaller parcel tax in 2010.
García’s communication director, Lizette Patrón, said the budget approved on March 13 includes funding for adult education, and outlines three plans for restoring funding pending negotiations with teachers and the outcome of the parcel tax vote proposed for November.
“From the February 2012 fiscal plan of $557million, about $180 million was restored in the March 13th Plan, including $15.6 million for Adult Ed (Career Technical Education, CTE) to high school students through the Regional Occupational Program (ROP),” Patrón told EGP in an email.
García and Deasy met with Gov. Jerry Brown regarding the budget, and García’s “efforts were key in helping restore funds and reduce the deficit,” Patrón said.
García was first elected to the school board in 2006. She is in her fifth term as board president. Prior to being elected to the board, García served as chief of staff to José Huizar, who was LAUSD Board President at the time. Her current term expires June 30, 2013, according to the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office.
Information from City News Service was used in this story.Print This Post
April 5, 2012 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.