Allison Holdorff Polhill to Speak UP: The Board Needs a Parent Voice

Dear Speak Up Community:

I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the officers and members of Speak Up, as we move into the final days of this important contest for the LAUSD.  This organization has never been more important – parents please speak up and vote on March 7th.  Let’s bring a strong and reliable parent and student voice to LAUSD.  You have all been tremendously supportive of my campaign. I am honored and thank you.  

I am running to make sure that all LAUSD students receive a quality education that will set them up for long-term success by fixing the budget and increasing our graduation rates. With your support, I can do that and we can win on March 7. As a product of public education and a parent who has put her three children through LAUSD public schools, you can count on me to represent students and parents.

This is a big job– 650,000 students and a 7.6 billion dollar budget. It’s a job where a person with the right skills and experience can make a huge difference.  For those of you who don’t know me already, let me make the case that I am that person.

The Board needs a parent voice. This district is my home. I am a product of public school, then went to UCLA and Loyola Law School.  All three of my children have graduated from their local public high school.  After two decades working full time as a volunteer at public schools, and as an instructor, I’m a proven leader. As chair of the board of Palisades Charter High School, I turned around what has now become one of the largest, high-performing, diverse, public high schools in the district. Pali High is made up of 3000 students from over 100 zip codes, a third of whom live at the poverty level. It’s time to bring this same level of success to the district as a whole through Parent leadership.

Seven years ago, when the District abruptly eliminated transportation for traveling students under Steve Zimmer’s watch, we found a way to make sure that Pali High’s budget funded transportation.  We were not going to allow LAUSD to deny hundreds of kids the opportunity to receive their diploma from their chosen school.  It was immoral to uproot these kids after they had spent their entire school career, committed to traveling up to 2 hours a day to attend their high performing public schools.  I made sure that this did not happen. 

In line with my advocacy for students, I led the successful negotiation of a Pali UTLA agreement, as Chair of the labor negotiation team.  Pali UTLA teachers were tough.  We focused on the one reason we were there – to benefit kids.  We listened to all concerns and found common ground.  We changed the teacher evaluation tool, to assure effective teachers are in classrooms.

With my experience, I can bring the Board together and find solutions to the current problems facing LAUSD.  So, put me to work.  I’m ready and I can hit the ground running, starting with (1) unifying the Board to be student-focused.  I took a fractured Board and brought people together by listening and coming up with student focused goals. (2) Support all education models that work for our students, whether they be traditional, magnet, pilot, charter or community schools. Let’s end this polarizing, conversation. We need to knock it off – its about the kids.  And, (3) fix the budget.  13 Billion in unfunded liabilities and a multi-million dollar deficit; this is just too dangerous.  Having managed large school budgets in the past, I have track record of fiscal responsibility that’s desperately needed at LAUSD. We need for monies to follow the students to the classroom at local sites.

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board is in dire need of a fresh perspective and hands-on, in-the-trenches experience. The district has been enduring tremendous financial pressures and systemic sub-par graduation rates. I strongly believe that my passion and background as a social justice advocate, a parent and a businesswoman will help reset the table and revitalize the potential of one of our country’s greatest and most diverse school districts. My goal is to realize the promise of equal education for all our students. That’s where it all starts with the students. I will work tirelessly - and fulltime - to build a legislative agenda and budget that will put the interests of our students and our classrooms first and foremost.

Every day that goes by is a day less that our students have to be educated.  We can do this!  Thanks to your efforts in getting the word out to your friends and acquaintances in our district, you have turned many unlikely voters into likely voters.  That is the kind of grassroots effort that will take us over the finish line.  I am very grateful.

Again thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Allison Holdorff Polhill