Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 is a critical election for voters that care deeply about the academic achievement of Latino and other students of color enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). For too long, schools located in low-income communities of color have failed to adequately prepare all of their students for successful futures. An opportunity gap has existed that has barred thousands of young people of color from reaching their full potential. The result has been alarmingly low graduation and college going rates for youth of color.
Monica Garcia has served on the School Board since 2006 and has championed the belief that schools should serve as centers of opportunity and not failure. She has aligned with community efforts demanding educational justice and higher expectations for all students, especially children and youth attending schools in high-need areas.
Ms. Garcia is fiercely committed to equity and access. Due to her leadership, Latino and other students of color have made substantial academic gains across the district. The Eastside of Los Angeles has benefited greatly from her efforts. In 2005, the total graduation rate for Eastside high schools stood at approximately 44%. In 2016, it reached a historic 80%. This change is due in large part to Ms. Garcia’s unrelenting dedication to holding the district accountable to higher expectations for all students regardless of their zip code. She has proven to be a strong voice for college access by ensuring the success of the A-G for All effort district-wide. Students must successfully complete the A-G course requirements with a ‘C’ grade or better to be eligible to attend a California State University. In LAUSD, students must also meet the requirements to graduate high school. Ms. Garcia has defended this standard against forces unwilling to invest in our children’s future. Her leadership has created opportunities for many more students from low-income communities than had existed before.
For decades, communities of color have demanded more and better access to a quality education that prepares students for college and beyond. In Ms. Garcia, they found an ally and a champion. She has been at the forefront of every fight to advance educational justice.
Milestone wins for the highest-need students of the district include: In 2013, she helped secure the School Climate Bill of Rights Resolution eliminating punitive discipline that historically discriminated against students of color; in 2014, together with the Equity Alliance secured The Equity is Justice Resolution committing Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) dollars for the highest need schools; also in 2014, she secured The Wellness Centers Now! Resolution committing $50 million for the construction of new wellness centers in high-need schools; in 2015, in alliance with the CLASS coalition (Communities for Los Angeles Student Success), secured the Equity in A-G Resolution investing in targeted academic interventions for college ready graduation. Soon after the November 2016 election, Ms. Garcia championed a resolution that declared LAUSD a safe zone for undocumented immigrants, in response to student demonstrations.
All these gains have greatly benefitted Latino students who represent the majority of School Board District 2, where Ms. Garcia is seeking re-election. We need Ms. Garcia to continue to represent our voices and our children on the School Board, particularly in these challenging times. There is much more that needs to be done to ensure every child is prepared to succeed in school and in life. Monica Garcia has proven that she will stand up and fight for justice in education and more.