A running section appears in the sidebar to the right with information and links about SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19. All articles for the foreseeable future will also feature these links at the bottom.

In the meantime a primary election was held less than three weeks ago in Los Angeles County that is still being actively counted. Results continue to be updated twice-weekly with (2,101,601) ballots comprising more than 38% of the over 5.5m registered voters counted. As of March 17, 2020, there are 64K ballots left to count. A small subset of these will include yet-outstanding ballots from LAUSD schoolboard voters.

Representation on the LAUSD schoolboard matters all the more now under threat of pandemic than ever, since the unusual circumstances expose enormous issues regarding Education policy. The protective closing of classrooms forces into a limelight matters of online learning, homeschooling, equity and teaching and the role of Big Tech vs human practitioners in guiding, mentoring, instructing and raising our young.

Front and center as the District is forced to all-online learning are issues of context and practice – is public education fundamentally industrial training or contextual critical thinking (and in what proportion)? These questions intrinsic to District policy will inform future learning as a function of what is being developed right now. By virtue of its size and the imperative of the moment, the LAUSD school board’s policies and actions with regard to blended learning will affect public education for years to come.

The board races in LAUSD1 and LAUSD5 cover southeast, northeast and south central LA. Incumbents George McKenna in LAUSD1 and Jackie Goldberg in LAUSD5 won their respective elections outright with more than 50% of their board district’s votes. The races in LAUSD3 and LAUSD7 covering the northwest valley and far south and east communities will go to a runoff on November 3, 2020. The top two primary winners are incumbent Scott Schmerelson in LAUSD3 who will face a behemoth charter school’s community relations specialist, Marilyn Koziatek. In LAUSD7 one-time community organizer turned economic development Deputy Paty Castellanos will face former-Mayor Villaraigosa’s privatized schools partnership (PLAS) administrator, Tanya Franklin.

The board’s three currently sitting members {LAUSD2’s Monica Garcia, LAUSD4’s Nick Melvoin, LAUSD6’s Kelly Gonez} were all elected with strong support from proponents of “school choice”, a process of privatizing public education. The two presumed re-elected board members were elected with support from coalitions (including labor unions) opposed to the privatization of public education. The remaining seats in contention are both split clearly between these factions. The outcome will distinguish whether the board’s majority champions an ideology of “school choice” outright or adopts a more chary perspective on the matter of privatizing public education.

Independent expenditures (IEs) in these primaries was staggering. Just six entities contributed nearly 7 million dollars in the two still-undecided races. Over 8½ million went to the collection of all four races. And in LAUSD3 and LAUSD7 which will enter a bruising runoff, it was just two unique entities – Manhattan Beach (a municipality not even constituent to LAUSD) private entrepreneur Bill Bloomfield, plus California’s charter school trade association lobby, CCSA – that spent 3.2 times as much as the political contributions from organizations representing thousands of teachers (UTLA) and schools service workers (SEIU-99) (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Representation of proportional spending across all LAUSD board races in the March 3, 2020 elections. Positive spending in support of the candidate appears above the dotted line; negative campaign expenditures fall below it. Unofficial race outcomes as of 3/21/20 are listed below each candidate’s name, as well as the calculation of expenditures per vote cast. All entities contributing to expenditures, positive and negative, are listed in the bottom table.

The candidates supported by school privatization money outspent their opponents by 4.0 : 1.0 (LAUSD3) and 2.4 : 1.0 (LAUSD7). Yet inverse to the spending imbalance, the Bloomfield-CCSA candidates received fewer votes than their public school candidate challengers: 74% and 88% respectively (as of 3/21/20).

November’s runoff election will be hard-fought, expensive and impactful on the future of public education in LA. But of course before we can concentrate on it, we are all mesmerized by the coronavirus pandemic which is paralyzing the world.

Covid-19 Grips LAUSD

As young and old alike learn the practical implications of hygiene and geometric progression, all eyes are turning to this graph of cases in LA County:

A close up of a map

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Exercise for reader:  does that latter linear trend defying expectations of infection in a pandemic indicate (a) the effect of a lid on testing or (b) slowing due to social distancing? If (c) none of the above, explain in the comments section below please.

Social distancing won’t likely prevent Covid-19 infection in you or yours; the goal is to delay the infection and slow its spread. The District will hopefully update this plan during an announcement scheduled for Monday, 3/23/20 between 10am and 11am.

But one way or another your family will acquire immunity, either through commercial vaccine which could take a year to develop, or sooner than that, natively via community spread.

Having never before seen the virus, it’s natural to wonder what distinguishes worrisome symptoms?

LA County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Ferrer, notes in her public remarks on 3/19/20 that “mild symptoms”, treatable with Tylenol (acetaminophen), include a low-grade fever under 100-degrees, some body aches or sore throat and mild coughing that does not interfere with breathing or cause severe pain.

Among those with underlying risk factors (e.g., heart or lung disease, diabetes) even mild symptoms warrant immediate contact with your health care provider or the LA County hotline:  800-854-7771. Anyone with “moderate” symptoms should also initiate professional healthcare when severe coughing is painful or interferes with breathing, or body temperature spikes rapidly or rises “high” (above 100-degrees).

In the meantime, there’s a lot to absorb in new daily routines. Dr. Ferrer clarifies that: “Because Covid-19 is widespread, as a general rule of thumb, you should assume that you may be infected and that others around you may be infected, and therefore act accordingly.  Take every precaution possible to avoid infecting others and to avoid becoming infected.  That’s the goal of social distancing.”

But yesterday’s needs are as vital as ever. The imperative for exercise, for example, remains as ever, public gym closures notwithstanding. “Feel free to take that walk, hike or run, just not with a group of people.” But first check the websites of LA County parks, Santa Monica Mountains, state park facilities, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority – some or all of these authorities may have closed public trails by the time you reach there. Though subservient to County authority, Mayor Garcetti exhorts: “Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home”

Again from Dr. Ferrer bear in mind the prescription: “… that you continue to adopt our best public health hygiene practices … when you do go out it is important for you to wash your hands before you leave, and it is important for you to wash your hands as soon as you get back.  If you don’t have handwashing facilities nearby, this is a good time to use sanitizer.”

LA EdEx’s updated resource links follow:

Governmental response including health information, public health measures

Data banks

Employment Concerns

Resources for families

Practical, helpful blogs and articles with kid-centered information, instructional activities and ideas

Please post your favorite resources below for others to share!