Jackie Goldberg and Heather Repenning are competing to represent NELA and other areas in Board District 5

Runoff for School Board

2019 April Editions Featured Front Page More News News

By T.A. Hendrickson

The runoff election for School Board District 5, which includes Northeast Los Angeles, is underway between Jackie Goldberg and Heather Repenning. Goldberg is a former elected official on the School Board, City Council and in the State Assembly. Repenning is a former L.A. city official and the parent of a child in the L.A. Unified School District.

The two candidates beat eight other contenders to make the runoff. Goldberg, who is endorsed by United Teachers of L.A., dominated in the primary, winning just under half the vote. Repenning, who is endorsed by Mayor Garcetti and the Service Employees International Union, edged into second place with 13.1% of the vote.

The race is unusually charged, because the winner will hold the swing vote on the School Board, which is currently split between members who favor traditional, unionized public schools, and those who favor generally non-union charter schools. As the swing voter, the winner will be in a position to carry out the demands of teachers who went on strike in January, calling for charter schools to be cut back.

Goldberg is a fierce critic of charter schools. Repenning, who is running for office for the first time, has said that charter schools need to meet the same standards as other public schools and that underperforming charters must be closed.

The Boulevard Sentinel asked Goldberg and Repenning about the promises they have made during the campaign, their views of NELA’s schools and how they would change things for the better.

Here are the Sentinel’s questions and the candidates’ answers:

During the primary, you told the Boulevard Sentinel that, if elected, your priority would be “to bring stability and leadership to LAUSD and … fight to keep public schools truly public and welcoming to ALL students.”
Please give some specific examples of initiatives you would undertake to keep public schools truly public and welcoming to all.

I am committed to reducing class sizes now. If the district truly wants students to learn more, it should begin hiring 2,000 new teachers to meet the class-size goals that are already laid out in the current teacher contract.

I will also work to improve learning conditions for students by hiring more teaching assistants, counselors, social workers, nurses and classified employees
— those who help keep our schools places where students want to be and where teachers can be the most effective.

Finally, I will get a handle on the budget. As a former LAUSD School Board President and also as Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I understand how to balance important reserve funds with the immediate needs of students and schools — and will lead the fight to fully fund our schools through structural revenue solutions.

In your view, what is the biggest challenge in representing Board District 5 and, if elected, how would you approach that challenge?

The major issues facing Board District 5 start with the chronic under-funding of public education in California. We need to reduce class sizes, we need to invest in more support personnel, and we must invoke measures to protect our most vulnerable students from extreme challenges to academic achievement.

My candidacy is rooted in the belief that every child deserves a high-quality public school. I will bring balance back to the Board and help them with budget issues as I have had more than two decades of experience working with very large public institutions’ budgets.

What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of schools in Northeast Los Angeles (90041, 90042 and 90065)? How would you build on the strengths and remedy the weaknesses?

In many parts of the district, the strengths are the relationships between parents and teachers. These strengths can be built on by hosting community events on germane topics, such as how to get legislators to raise taxes on California’s vast wealth and invest it in our students.

The weaknesses are that class sizes are too big, there are inadequate support services for students who need some help to achieve their potential, and the district needs increased revenue streams. Additionally, we need to ensure that decisions are made with the strong involvement of teachers, parents and classified personnel on the campus.

Please share one or two experiences, opportunities or events in your background that have shaped your values and motivated you to run to represent Board District 5.

I spent nearly two decades, mostly in Compton Unified School District, teaching high school social studies/history, reading and ESL. I have several California teaching Credentials, and I spent eight years in UCLA’s Teacher Education Program preparing teachers to teach in low-income communities. In the California State Assembly, I chaired the Assembly Education Committee from 2002-2006. I also served for eight years on the LAUSD Board of Education, including President of the Board.

My breadth of teaching experiences catalyzed me to lead the fight in mitigating barriers to students’ success, and I am the proud author of the Living Wage Ordinance and the Worker Retention Ordinance — measures to help protect our most vulnerable children.


During the primary, you told the Boulevard Sentinel that, if elected, your priority would be: “Putting more resources in schools and empowering parents, students and school staff to create great schools in all of our neighborhoods.” Please give some specific examples of initiatives you plan to undertake to get more resources for schools and empower parents.

Parents and local school leaders know best what works for our students. As an LAUSD parent, I will change the top-down approach to school policy in Board District 5 by making School Board meetings more accessible, providing weekend classes for parents to better understand what we are teaching and how to support their kids’ learning, and by giving school-based committees a stronger voice in making decisions.

I will also organize parents to make the case to Sacramento, D.C., and local residents and leaders for new investments in public education.

In your view, what is the biggest challenge in representing Board District 5 and, if elected, how would you approach that challenge?

There are many great success stories in Board District 5 schools, but overall we are not creating the student achievement levels we want to see – particularly in math but also in language arts – and we are preparing too few of our young people for higher education and the careers of the future.

I want to keep the focus on learning even after the bell rings by providing free homework help at every single school. I also want the best teachers and administrators working in Board District 5 schools, and I want our students to have the support they need to apply for college and find pathways to good-paying jobs.

What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of schools in Northeast Los Angeles (90041, 90042 and 90065)? How would you build on the strengths and remedy the weaknesses?

Our greatest strengths in Northeast LA are the diversity of our students and families and the “small town” neighborhood culture that keeps people connected. There are several Northeast LA schools that serve as examples for the rest of LAUSD for how schools can be centers of the community and include language learning and arts and music that reflect our local cultures and values.

Overall, we need more investment in neighborhood schools – our parents shouldn’t have to fund-raise for basic things like PE – and our kids shouldn’t be stuck with 45 other students in a classroom.

Please share one or two experiences, opportunities or events in your background that have shaped your values and motivated you to run.

I speak to parents every day about the decisions they are making for their kids’ educations. I hear their hopes and goals, and their many frustrations with LAUSD. Parents are willing to do incredible things to give their children opportunity – and, unfortunately, too many of them right now feel they must opt out of LAUSD in favor of a private school or a charter, or relocate to another school district.

I want to offer every child a quality public school in his or her community. I believe that LAUSD should be able to do this. I do not accept that in a place with as many financial and cultural resources as L.A., this should be out of reach.

We owe every kid a good school, and that is why I am running for the School Board.

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