There is no doubt that there are overwhelming issues facing the students of District 1 and several qualified candidates have stood up to champion the task. However, George McKenna is by far the best candidate for the task. McKenna took time to speak with the Sentinel about why he feels he’s qualified to helm the District 1 seat.
“My knowledge is of how schools work, what makes them successful and how budgets and resources affect school outcomes,” said McKenna about knowledge he would bring to District 1. “The philosophy of equal distribution of resources is not fair to those in greatest need.”
As a teacher, principal and superintendent, McKenna has a history of standing up for the rights of disenfranchised children to receive a quality education. He brings 50 years of experience and a true understanding of the issues that the children and parents of the district face within the inner workings of LAUSD. The truancy and drop-out rate is at an alarming high and inequity of resources continue to plague District 1 at epidemic rates—this just being the tip of the educational system iceberg.
McKenna comes with a proven track record having been an administrator in Los Angeles, Inglewood, Compton and Pasadena. His experience as a principal at Washington Prep is but a small demonstration of what he can accomplish with an underperforming school system. McKenna understands the importance of cohesion that must exist between students and parents to participate in the recovery of a school.
This is what ultimately led to Washington Prep becoming one of the highest performing schools in LAUSD despite the fact that its students lived in one of the most economically deprived portions of the city.
“I’m familiar with the relationship that should exist between parents, teachers, students and administrators,” said McKenna, “and how all that works together in order to produce a successful outcome.”
He continues, “I’ve always been given difficult assignments— which I have accepted. Because my colleague and friend died in office, I felt the call of the community, in large numbers, to respond by offering myself as a candidate for election.”
He is also the only candidate in this election who can bring a consensus and alliance with members of the school board, the district and LAUSD in general. McKenna has worked with multiple members throughout the years and is a respected leader in the local and national education community. He has experience working with school board unions and has the capacity to institute the drastic changes necessary to catalyze standing change. The candidate who wins this race will replace longtime board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who passed away at the end of 2013 and will serve out the last year of LaMotte’s term, which ends in 2015. Those candidates include Alex Johnson, assistant senior deputy for education and public safety for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; teacher, principal and curriculum developer, Genethia Hudley- Hayes; Rachel Johnson, a teacher, with 30 years experience; Hattie McFrazier, a retired LAUSD employee, who has an extensive background with 31 years experience; Sherlett Hendy Newbill, a teacher with 15 years of experience and public personality and ordained pastor, Omarosa Manigault, who is currently a special education substitute teacher in LAUSD.
McKenna is a known independent thinker and one of his primary missions is to help create a school board that functions and works together. He plans to work with a school board that has the best interest of all of LAUSD and will separate personal and political opinions from the need to do what is right for the children.
“I believe that this is more than just a contest—this is a matter of commitment,” said McKenna. “I have demonstrated my commitment through all of my work with parents, families, children and communities in Los Angeles and L.A. Unified.”