On November 3, 2020, there will be an election to fill the two vacant seats formerly held by Andrew Blumenfeld and Brent Kuszyk on the LCUSD Board of Education. Four candidates will be running for the two empty Governing Board seats: Caroline Anderson, Jeremiah Arnold, Josh Epstein, and Belinda Randolph.
Below are Mrs. Randolph’s responses to our questions.
Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
What makes you unique?
I go to school board meetings — I’ve been going to school board meetings for 10 years. The other candidates may have been going since the pandemic but they certainly weren’t regular attendees prior to the pandemic and Zoom.
How are your plans different from those of the other Governing Board candidates?
That’s really hard to say. While sometimes people think they have an agenda, the reality is you don’t really know what’s going to happen. In terms of how I would be different, I would read the board agenda items really carefully and I would talk to other people. I also think I wouldn’t try and vote consensus. If I don’t agree with something I’m going to vote no. I think the other board members are much more interested in voting 5 – 0. We’ve had a lot of 5 – 0 votes and I don’t quite understand that.
Why do you want to be part of the Governing Board?
It’s been my hobby for ten years. I’ve been attending the board meetings and participating actively, but there’s a limit to how effective one can be as an audience member and there are a few things that I haven’t been able to enact change on. When I become a voting member I’ll have that ability. Also, I would like to work more towards transparency. There’s a lot of things that legally cannot be said publicly but there are also a lot of things that could be shared publicly that are not right now. I would like to work towards those things being transparent.
If you had to summarize your campaign into three main ideas or words, what ideas or words would you use?
I go to board meetings, I’m going to ask tough questions and expect answers, and I just care. It takes a detail-oriented person to read all these documents and that’s me.
What are your thoughts on reopening?
When will that be? Please tell me. [Laughs] So, realistically, I’d be surprised if we reopen in January. I know the district is trying to work towards being able to open then, but, watching what’s happening in other cities, it seems like it’s too risky to open. I want to keep our teachers safe and I want to keep our older students and their families and their grandparents safe. So, realistically, I think it’s going to be a while. I don’t know. It seems so far in the future. To me, when we’re going to actually reopen, I like that our district is prepared to do so. I just don’t know if we’re going to be allowed to by the LA County Health Department.
How can LCUSD improve DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion)?
This is such a contentious issue and I have no idea why. When you go to school you should be able to go without hearing racial slurs. You should just go to school and it should be okay — you shouldn’t be demeaned because you’re female or because you’re Asian or anything. You should just be allowed to go to school. I think that there are a lot of existing board policies that make it safe for kids to go without having to be mistreated. I would really like to see us start enforcing those existing policies and maybe making them a little stronger, but they already exist — they’re just not really being enforced.
I’ve walked on campus and I’ve heard racial slurs. Students are saying them in front of an adult, which just blows my mind. Obviously, we would try to work through Christina Hale-Elliot’s recommendations. But those are twenty-three items. They seem logical. It’s just how well you can actually implement them.
From your perspective, what has the current Governing Board done well?
Wow, we’ve done well with this remote learning. The current governing board and the previous governing boards hired Jamie Lewsadder (she used to teach English a long time ago and she was a great teacher), and now she’s working on technology. She has gotten our district to the point where we were so prepared technology-wise for this transition that we just jumped right to it. It was not a problem for our school district because of the vision and the idea of promoting a technology person in our district to such a high position and the thinking ahead towards that. I mean, it was impossible to predict the pandemic, but creating the whole department meant that our classes were working. So, that’s what we really did well: keeping us open in terms of remote learning. It wasn’t perfect — I’ve definitely heard that — but I really think we did well there.
What aspects of the current Governing Board need to be improved? How would you improve these aspects?
I would do a lot less talking. Board meetings are getting longer and longer. In fact, I made a graph of them over the last ten years, and they’re getting longer! I would be really concise with my words so we can get stuff done. Also, some board members have not done the prep work that’s necessary prior to showing up to meetings and it shows. They don’t participate much because they haven’t done their prep work. I would probably have voted differently on issues, especially the math textbook and math course adoption for LC Math 1, 2, and 3. I think we adopted that too quickly without research and without a textbook. I tried to voice an opposing opinion but it was not effective.
If students could vote in the upcoming elections, why should they vote for you?
I care about students. That’s all I do. I go in and I ask students and parents how things are going. When a teacher doesn’t return a test in time for the next test, I bring it up to the board members, I bring it up to Wendy Sinnette, and I bring it up to the principal. When your English teacher returns an essay and doesn’t bother giving you feedback, I complain bitterly because I think that teachers are so important to the learning process and feedback is a way that we learn from our mistakes. We need an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. So, those are a couple of things I’ve done directly for students. I’ve been fighting for you guys for 10 years.
For more information on Mrs. Randolph, visit www.belindarandolphforlacanadaschoolboard.com.