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Marvin Rodriguez: Honest and Courageous Leadership

This candidate for LAUSD School Board seeks to earn the vote of those who have lost trust in a system they perceive as corrupt.

“If we’re in the service of educating and building young minds, the process can no longer be one guided by self-interest and preservation.”

- Board District 6 Candidate Marvin Rodriguez

This is the third in a series on ethical issues facing the LAUSD. Please read the first part for an introduction to the issue.

In LAUSD Board District 6, Marvin Rodriguez is running a grassroots campaign to unseat School Board President Kelly Gonez. Despite being a teacher for the last 17 years, UTLA has ignored his candidacy and joined forces with charter school supporters to support the incumbent who will maintain the status quo. As a parent of two students enrolled in district schools, Rodriguez knows that our children deserve better than this.

The election of Rodriguez would change the district drastically. While Gonez is accepting campaign contributions from an organization that contracts with the LAUSD, her opponent commits to serving his “communities with courage and honesty”. This is the only way to build “the faith in our schools necessary” to “inspire confidence in the students and communities we serve.”

Rodriguez’s complete response is as follows:

Our goal as a district is to earn the trust of our communities and make believers out of them once again. Our leaders must inspire in our communities the faith in our schools necessary for them to believe in the work we do on their behalf, so they can buy into the academic experiences we offer and take pride in having their children attend our schools.

The task at hand must be initiated at the top by our leadership. Our leaders must set the tone for the rest of the district to follow. At a time when our communities, especially our children, are hungry for models of integrity and courage, it is up to our leaders and the rest of us to model the examples of courage that inspire confidence in the students and communities we serve.

As a member of the school board, I commit to representing my communities with courage and honesty. My priority will be to represent the interests of our students and the people who elect me to do the job and not the strategy of any individual or group looking to gain access and influence in our district by collecting favors owed to them.

I commit to truly putting our students first and advancing policies that bring resources into the school communities they belong to. I also commit to advancing policies that prioritize the social and emotional well-being of our students and their families, so that their academic experiences are more meaningful to them.

I commit to not bending to the will of interests that operate under the misguided belief that our children and communities can only thrive and experience meaningful educational opportunities through their goodwill. I commit to an ethical and courageous approach in conducting school board business.

As Dr. Cornel West reminds us, “Leadership is fundamental because there can be no significant social movement without visionary and analytical leadership by people of courage and integrity. We’re not talking about one person, we’re talking about a conscious collective.”

When it comes to the education of our children, there must be a collective shift in the approach we take. All of us who are involved not only in the day-to-day interactions with students but also in making decisions to ensure their success must pursue a new approach. If we’re in the service of educating and building young minds, the process can no longer be one guided by self-interest and preservation. The process must be one rooted in community, empathy, and love. We must collectively believe in reaching the soul of our students and uplifting their character through an educational experience that is replete with models of courage and integrity.


Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He is an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and serves as the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit Opinions are his own.


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