Iris Zuñiga

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Iris Zuñiga
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Candidate for
Board Member, Los Angeles Unified School District, District 6
Iris Zuñiga, an executive with the nonprofit Youth Policy Institute, sought election to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board representing District 6 in 2013. Incumbent Nury Martinez did not seek re-election. On January 23, 2013, Zuñiga dropped out of the race. In a statement posted on her campaign's Facebook page, she said, "Now is not the right time for me to pursue elected office." In an interview with the LA School Report, she explained that she would rather continue working with the Youth Arts Institute, which had just received a $30 million grant from the federal government.[1][2]

Issues

Q&A

The following questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles:[3]

1. What is the single most important issue facing LAUSD today? As a Board Member, what would you do to deal with it?[3]

"The single most important issue facing LAUSD and our community is that our students are not making it through the educational pipeline in order to graduate college prepared and career ready. We need to do much more to make sure that every child in LAUSD has the opportunity to graduate from high school with essential 21st Century Skills. Even though graduation rates are increasing, I still believe that we have too many students who do not receive adequate supports and intervention to enable them to graduate and contribute to the global workforce that we need to build in the Los Angeles area. As a Board Member, I would make sure that we are taking a serious look at the current deficiencies and begin to implement the necessary support systems to improve student performance and outcomes."

2. How would you prioritize your local constituency in overseeing LAUSD management, setting District policy, and day-to-day decision-making?[3]

"I would create advisory committees composed of educators that are demonstrating improved teaching and learning in their respective schools. These committees would identify best practices and create a collaborative environment with parents and community stakeholders where these best practices could be shared, tested and refined to meet the unique needs of every school site. Best practices need to drive district policy and challenge the bureaucracy and "one-size-fits-all" instruction and curriculum that prevail in LAUSD despite best intentions. We need to listen to our teachers and administrators who have classroom experience and who know their students and school communities if we are to make positive policy change on a grand scale."

3. What experience in general management, fiscal management, and budgetary oversight would you bring to the job of Board Member?[3]

"I am currently the Chief Operating Officer for a non-profit organization, primarily supported by federal, state and local grant funding, with a $35 million budget and over 1,000 employees. I understand the importance of fiscal management and budgetary oversight. Without the proper tools in place, it is very easy to lose sight of goals and expected outcomes. I believe that the budgetary process is the road map that sets priorities and aligns the various components necessary to achieve identified objectives. More importantly, we need to make sure we have adequate benchmarks in place in order to ensure accountability and transparency for those we serve and represent."

4. How should LAUSD deal with its rapidly increasing costs for retiree and employee health care?[3]

"This is a complex question that is not only an LAUSD problem. The spiraling costs of health care need to be addressed through comprehensive, universal health coverage so that costs can be contained and so that retiree coverage is not the exclusive responsibility of public employers in the future. Because of the public health implications, I believe that quality and affordable health care for employees that work with our children is critical. I am hopeful that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will begin to address rapidly increasing costs. In the meantime, I will support the District's efforts to leverage its position in the marketplace to negotiate the most favorable coverage rates for LAUSD employees."

5. What part should standardized testing play in LAUSD's educational programs?[3]

"Frequent objective assessments are critical to diagnose and support the unique needs of every student. Standardized testing, however, should not be the sole indicator used to evaluate performance or growth. As LAUSD prepares to launch Common Core State Standards, that are directly aligned with the framework for 21st Century Skills, we need to be focusing on rigorous instruction and curriculum that is rooted in critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity; all skills considered to be essential in every academic area. Testing and assessments have to be reflective of this goal."

LA for Arts survey

Zuñiga did not fill out the candidate survey from Arts for LA, a group advocating greater investment in the arts.[4]

Elections

2013

See also: Los Angeles Unified School District elections (2013)

Zuñiga ran in the 2013 election for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board, representing District 6. She qualified for the ballot but dropped out on January 23, 2013.[5] Zuñiga's name will remain on the ballot for the primary election on March 5, 2013, along with those of active candidates Antonio Sanchez, Maria Cano, and Monica Ratliff. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two will advance to a runoff election on May 21, 2013. If a candidate does receive a majority of votes, that candidate wins and a runoff is not required.

Endorsements

Retiring incumbent Nury Martinez endorsed Zuñiga.[6]

Funding

Candidate Campaign contributions Personal funds Indpt. expenditures in support Indpt. expenditures opposed
Maria Cano $16,610.33 $500 $0 $0
Monica Ratliff $14,797.69 $1,996.23 $0 $0
Antonio Sanchez $54,688.53 $0 $1,098,188.51 $0
Iris Zuniga $19,625 $1,000 $0 $0
Campaign contributions and personal funds as reported through February 27, 2013 in the required filings with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. Independent expenditures are continually updated by the Commission. They were last updated here March 5, 2013. Source: Los Angeles City Ethics Commission[7]

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References