Weingarten Speech Tying School Choice to Racism Sets Off Firestorm

House Committee Rejects Democrats’ Bid to Restore Education Funding, Protect Teacher Training

How’s This for a Yarn? School Bus Driver Crochets a Personalized Toy for Every Student on Her Route

A Phoenix Breakthrough: How 3 Massachusetts High Schools Are Helping Dropouts Become College-Bound Grads

Teacher Groups Frustrated With California ESSA Plan’s ‘Loose’ Definition of Ineffective Teachers

The 74 Interview: You Don’t Think Your Child Is Average & Harvard’s Todd Rose Doesn’t Either

Interactive: How Far Every State Has Gone to Update Education Policies Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

House Republicans Warn Education Dept. on ESSA Overreach as Democrats Lament Lack of Accountability Rules

More Attention to ELLs, Student Suspension, Fewer Test Days: NY Tweaks Its ESSA Plan

WATCH: These 100 HS Grads Made a Splash With Pomp, Circumstance — and a Jump in the Lake

12 Rhode Island Schools Vie for Chance to Become Their State’s 3 Personalized Learning Labs

Teacher Raises, Bathrooms, Vouchers: Texas Lawmakers Take Up Big School Fights in Special Legislative Session

Investigation: Forced Into Unneeded Remedial Classes, Some Community College Students Fail to Finish Degrees

A Summer Education Meltdown: Why Everyone in DC Is Mad About ESSA, Congress, Charters, Choice — or All of the Above

This Week’s ESSA News: Science Test Debate, a Career Readiness Blind Spot, and Massachusetts Has Work to Do

House Subcommittee Advances Education Funding Bill as Democrats Protest ‘Anti-Teacher’ Cuts

DeVos Hears of Sex Attacks at Colleges & K-12 Schools as Feds Weigh Changes to Title IX Evidence Rules

The $1,488 Back-to-School Bill: Backpack Index Tracks Rising Costs of Supplies, Fees for Band, Sports, Trips

House Committee Considers Education Spending Bill That Trims Trump’s Cuts, Drops Funding for Private Choice

Turning Red: New Jersey’s Well-Heeled Teachers Union Backs Trump Supporter Over State’s Top Democrat

Kelly Gonez, Science Teacher and Former Obama Adviser, Wins Close Race for L.A. School Board

Photo Credit: Getty Images

May 17, 2017

Esmeralda Fabián Romero
Talking Points

Kelly Gonez, science teacher and former Obama advisor, wins close race for L.A. school board

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

This piece was produced in partnership with LA School Report; see LASR’s complete coverage of the 2017 school board race.

Recent coverage from the campaign trail:

What’s Really Fueling the L.A. School Board Race — the Most Expensive Board Contest in U.S. History

New Student Data Show That Half of Graduating Seniors in L.A. Not Eligible for California’s Public Universities

L.A. School Board Puts Money & Lobbying Muscle Behind State Bills Drafted to Shackle Charter Schools

Science teacher and former Obama administration adviser Kelly Gonez is the projected winner in the LA Unified school board race for the open District 6 seat.

“Based on the results we’re seeing, I feel confident that the voters of BD6 have voted to make me your next member of the Board of Education,” Gonez tweeted late Tuesday night, just after 12:30 a.m. By 1:15 a.m., with 18 of the 19 LA Unified precincts reporting, Gonez continued to lead Imelda Padilla, 51.47 percent to 48.52 percent.

Surrounded by dozens of supporters at a San Fernando restaurant, she was in tears as she accepted her possible victory over Padilla in an intense runoff race for the board seat that will represent more than 93,000 students who attend traditional and public charter schools in the San Fernando Valley. In District 6, 87 percent of the students are Latinos and 86 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

“I’m moved by the overwhelming support of families, my students, and the community. That’s the whole reason why I’m doing this. I’m hopeful that all of the hard work we have done over the last several months and the community support will hold the results,” Gonez told LA School Report.

Gonez is a seventh-grade science teacher at Crown Preparatory Academy in Los Angeles and worked as an education policy adviser in the Obama Administration. “I think I have a unique perspective as someone who taught at both the district and charter schools,” she said before the election.

Gonez says she saw firsthand disparities in the education system. Her mother, an immigrant from Peru, faced barriers in education and the workforce, not because of her intelligence or skills, but because she looked different and because she was an English language learner, Gonez said. “Fighting for those same opportunities for every child has always been something that’s been important to me,” she said.

At 28, Gonez was the youngest candidate for school board this election. Her mother attended an LA Unified adult school and now works at a hospital in Mission Hills. Gonez’s father works at a small manufacturing business in Van Nuys.

The crowd at Gonez’s election-watching party was mostly made up of mothers wearing “Parents for Kelly” T-shirts who were chanting for Gonez and clearly in a celebratory mood. “I thank God for Kelly. She is the most prepared candidate to take over a position like that in the board. I think she will make wise decisions to benefit all students here,” said Jocelyn Peralta, a mother of two students attending Pacoima Charter school.

Another mother, Elizabeth Santana, said she felt hopeful the official results will confirm Gonez as the replacement of Mónica Ratliff on the LAUSD school board. “I’m proud that a Latina woman will take that position. She seems like she deeply cares for our kids. She’s a teacher, so what could be better than that?” she said.