Things That Matter

A Majority-Latino School District Is Choosing Between Two White Women For School Board In Los Angeles

Voters in LA have a little-known election on May 14 that is proving to be another case of underrepresentation of communities of color.

Board District 5 of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is having a special election to replace a former board member who resigned due to corruption charges. Voters in this runoff election will have to decide between two white candidates in a district where 8 in 10 residents are people of color and nearly 90 percent of enrolled students are Latino.

The LAUSD Board will be largely white even though most students are Latino.

The election is occurring in Board District 5 which makes up LA’s lower-income Latino-majority cities. These cities include Maywood, Huntington Park, Cudahy, and South Gate along with the rapidly gentrifying communities of Los Feliz, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, and Silver Lake.

Many voters in the district know want they want in a board member. They want someone who will make the superintendent work harder and who will visit local schools more frequently. Yet, for the heavily Latino district, many also want to see someone who looks like us sitting on the board. They want someone who better understands the needs of the community because they are from the same community.

Unfortunately, that won’t be an option in Tuesday’s election.

Board District 5 is quintessential Los Angeles.

Credit: beyondthechron / Flickr

L.A.’s Board District 5 closely mirrors the demographics of L.A. as a whole. More than a quarter of students are classified as English learners, more than 85 percent live in low-income households, and an estimated 2,000 are homeless.

However, Board District 5 topped LAUSD as a whole last year with its graduation rate of 83 percent, compared with 76.6 percent for all other schools. One reason for the higher graduation rates could be that there are a number of community organizations and Latino advocacy groups who partner with local high schools to help students go on to college.

Latinos not being represented is nothing new in politics, even on the local L.A. level.

People are fed up and letting themselves be heard on social media. With Tuesday’s turnout expected to be low (roughly just 10-20 percent of eligible voters), it’s so important that Latinos and all people of color make their voices heard so that we can finally see ourselves represented in all levels of government.

READ: LAUSD Just Made It Harder For ICE To Walk Onto Their School Campuses

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