As the race moves forward The Los Angeles Sentinel takes a look at the candidates who are running to improve the quality of education for our children today, tomorrow and into the future
The words “battle” and “education” seemingly should not go together and yet, for most of African American history in the U.S., seeking an education that would develop the whole person as well as prepare one for future responsibilities has been exactly that. The battle continues today with efforts to secure representation on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. The District 1 seat which had been held by longtime educator Marguerite Lamotte prior to her death last year will be filled in a Special Election called for June 3.
District 1 consists of a sprawling section of Los Angeles that extends along the 110 freeway on the east, partially north just beyond Wilshire Blvd., west through portions of West and South Los Angeles, and ends just past El Segundo Blvd. to the South, cutting through the areas of Cheviot Hills, HancockPark, Windsor Hills, parts of South Los Angeles and Gardena.
The predominantly Black and Latino area is hotly contested. For starters, there are millions of dollars in per pupil monies that must be allocated fairly throughout Los Angeles’ districts. These monies are not only for teacher salaries but they go beyond that in terms of facilities, professional staff such as mental health counselors/therapists, additional tutoring, other kinds of health staff/support, as well as additional curriculum resources such as desktop and laptop computers. Here’s a brief look at the candidates and the top contenders:
George McKenna, a retired administrator, area superintendent, principal, teacher and counselor in the Los Angeles Unified School District, McKenna has been in the field of education for 50 years. He has the endorsement of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Los Angeles City Council member Bernard Parks and former Council member Jan Perry, as well as the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles.
Doris Dillard supports McKenna because she says “He is the most qualified candidate, a dedicated educator, and has the most hands on experience with schools, with teachers, with parents, with administrators because of the length of his public schools career here in Southern California. He has worked on behalf of children in all ethnic groups, and he’s not looking to use the children as a stepping stone to another career.” A retired LAUSD teacher and administrator, Dillard currently works with the Council of Black Administrators (COBA), an organization founded to address the education needs of African American children and the professional growth and development of Black administrators.
Alex Johnson is currently the assistant senior deputy for education and public safety for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Through his role as senior education policy advisor, Johnson has worked with administrators in the fields of education, health and other public service areas securing funding for programs and private organizations to increase the quality of services and opportunities for youth in Los Angeles. He is endorsed by the L.A. County Young Democrats, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, California State Assembly members Lorena Gonzales and Mike Gatto, former congresswoman Diane Watson and retired L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, and current L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Johnson says his goal is to “give back” to the school system that he is a product of.
Genethia Hudley-Hayes has been a teacher, principal and curriculum developer as well as a civic leader for more than 30 years. She began her public service career as a teacher in the Child Development Section of the LAUSD. Currently a member and the president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, Hudley-Hayes served as the District 1 Representative on the L.A. Unified School Board from 1999 to 2003. She lost her bid for re-election to LaMotte. She has the endorsement of former Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Richard Riordan, Congresswoman Karen Bass and State Senator Holly J. Mitchell.
Author, analyst and community activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson has not publicly endorsed anyone to date however, he spoke very highly of Hudley-Hayes’ competency and her experience. “I do believe based on her experience on the board, based on her ability to be an effective negotiator and lobbyist, an advocate for our kids in our district. I think that given all the challenges down there with all that administrative ‘stuff’ they have to go through, someone like her will be able to hit the ground running because she’s been there. Given the nature of that board … [I think] she will be an effective advocate, lobbyist and negotiator for us.”
Rachel Johnson, a teacher of 30 years, currently teaches kindergarten at Purche Avenue Elementary School in Gardena. She also currently serves as a Councilwoman for the city of Gardena. She is endorsed by the UTLA House of Representatives.
Hattie McFrazier is a retired employee of the LAUSD who spent 31 years in a variety of positions including teacher, counselor, School Attendance Review Board chair and Health and Human Services director. She has held positions with education organizations such as the National Education Association, the California Teachers Association, and the Board of Directors of United Teachers of Los Angeles. She is endorsed by the UTLA House of Representatives.
Sherlett Hendy Newbill is a teacher of 15 years at Dorsey High School where she also coaches the girls’ basketball team. Additionally, she holds a leadership position in the Dorsey High chapter of the United Teachers of Los Angeles. She is endorsed by the UTLA House of Representatives.
Omarosa Manigault is currently a special education substitute teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District. She also maintains a teaching appointment at Howard University in Washington, DC and she is an ordained pastor, and a former participant on the television show “The Apprentice.”