Letter to the President of the California Teachers Association
Dear President Dean Vogel,
When I decided to run for office as an education reformer, I knew the day might come when I would be attacked and misrepresented by your organization. Even though I have worked in many traditional public schools, I knew my recent affiliation with charter schools might have you paint me as public enemy number one. Sadly, these expectations were met and then exceeded.
Even though your mail pieces and calls imply my views are otherwise, I am completely against vouchers, turning all public schools into charters, or any privatization of public schools. As I have said many times before to you, we actually agree on 90% of the issues.
We agree on smaller classrooms, more professional development, more use of teachers’ voices in schools and school districts, and a richer curriculum beyond standardized tests. Most of all, we agree that our current system is broken and the fact that our state is among the lowest in per pupil funding is unacceptable.
And I’ve also shared that we have two major differences that I will not back down from:
# 1. I will stand up for ALL neighborhood public schools.
In the 46th Assembly District, we have lots of types of different schools. Whether a school is a charter school like Riverside Elementary, Sherman Oaks Elementary, or Colfax Elementary; a magnet school like programs at Walter Reed Middle School and North Hollywood High School; or a district public school like Grant High School and Vista Middle School, I will fight for all of our students at these schools.
#2. It’s time that we evolve our evaluations of teachers and principals.
I agree with AFT President Randi Weingarten when she says that we need teacher evaluations to “take into account multiple measures: classroom observations, portfolio review, appraisal of lesson plans, and all the other tools we use to measure student learning.” In any job, receiving constructive feedback and feeling a sense of accountability will improve an employee’s performance. Teachers have one of the largest responsibilities in our community to prepare our youth; therefore, the stakes of creating a support system to accommodate their demanding jobs are even higher.
On top of the accusations I have already mentioned, you have also accused me of giving preferential treatment to wealthy students. In reality, I have done the exact opposite – I have spent my entire career trying to level the playing field so that every student gets the same access to a quality education. In fact, at Larchmont Schools, I doubled the number of Latino, African American and low-income students while also increasing student achievement. Larchmont, a group of public schools in the City of Los Angeles, now score higher than every public school in Beverly Hills.
I’m sorry that our points of disagreement have you so concerned that you are willing to misrepresent the facts to voters in my community. If I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to serve our community, I would still welcome an open and honest discussion about how we can all work together. Let’s pivot from this adult-driven conversation about what piece of paper accompanies a school’s name to actually discussing how we can best serve our children’s needs.
In summary, I believe your time and money could be better spent working together in our joint efforts against paycheck deception, for the Governor’s tax initiative, and delivering a world-class education for all of our students.