The Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association endorsed three candidates for this fall’s Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board of education election.
The teachers union is endorsing new candidate Kathleen Sherlock Wisnicki, current board president Jose J. Escarce and current board member Maria Leon-Vazquez.
There are three open seats to be filled in the election Tuesday, November 2nd. Escarce and Leon-Vazquez are seeking re-election and board member Mike Jordan chose not to run for re-election because of an illness in his family.
“During the past four years, the Classroom Teachers Association has made establishing a professional working relationship with the board of education a top priority,” said Jenny Lipson, chair of the teachers union Political Action Committee and a teacher at Grant Elementary School.
“We are proud of our work and we look forward to working with the members of the board in the years ahead to improve education for our students,” Lipson said.
The teachers union is working closely for the first time with the Santa Monica College Faculty Association to help candidates who are “pro-academic, pro-student and pro-teacher” get elected Tuesday, November 2nd, Lipson said.
The teachers union and faculty association formed a coalition known as Santa Monica’s Education Team to help each other make election endorsements and provide campaign support for those candidates.
Santa Monica’s Education Team previously endorsed candidates Susan Aminoff and Doug Willis for seats on the Santa Monica College board of trustees.
ESCARCE — Escarce is a medical doctor and has three children attending schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district.
Escarce is seeking re-election for a second four-year term.
He told the teachers union when seeking its endorsement that he hopes to improve special education services, close the achievement gap among economically disadvantaged students and implement a district gift policy that is equitable for all students.
“I’ve always been very interested in education. It has played a crucial role in my own life and I believe it represents the best hope for people to achieve their potential as productive and socially conscious citizens,” Escarce said in a written statement.
Leon-Vazquez said Escarce has been an asset to the board of education because of his critical analysis skills.
LEON-VAZQUEZ — Leon-Vazquez said she has been involved in Santa Monica education and community activities for the past 30 years.
She is a graduate of Santa Monica High School and has a law degree. She is also seeking a second four-year term.
She has been associated with Westside Legal Services, Community Corporation of Santa Monica, Commission on the Status of Women and Parent Teacher Associations at Will Rogers Elementary School, John Adams Middle School and Santa Monica High School.
“I realized that I had a role to play in society and that was to change the institutions’ way of thinking that only a certain few could be highly educated,” said Leon-Vazquez.
She said the past four years have gone well and she hopes the next four years will feature improved curriculum, district funding and more effective ways of assessing students than relying heavily on standardized test scores.
She also hopes to implement recommendations previously presented to the board of education by the district Special Education Steering Committee and continue her work on redesigning Santa Monica High School.
“I will continue to strive for extraordinary achievement for ALL students while simultaneously closing the achievement gap in a commUNITY approach,” Leon-Vazquez wrote.
WISNICKI — Wisnicki hopes to replace Jordan as a representative for Malibu.
She has a doctoral degree in educational research and extensive contacts in the Malibu community.
Wisnicki told the teachers union that she was instrumental in convincing the City of Malibu to contribute $380,000 to the school district last year and has longstanding relationships with Malibu City Council members.
She chaired the campaign to get voter support for the school district parcel tax Measure S.
She is also a member of the district financial oversight committee, an Executive Council member for the Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families since 1999 and a member of Parent Teacher Associations at various Malibu school sites.
“I desire a life of public service to guarantee that our district continues on its ambitious course of improvement and continues to serve the interests of our entire school community.”
If elected, Wisnicki hopes to use her financial oversight skills to prioritize the district’s financial needs and use her Malibu community contacts to help bridge the geographical divide between Malibu and Santa Monica.