By Lookout Staff
October 6 -- The grassroots parents group behind a successful push to guarantee at least $6 million a year in City funding for local schools has endorsed two incumbents and a Malibu resident in the race for three open School Board seats.
After a month-long evaluation process, the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) endorsed Board members Maria Leon-Vazquez and Dr. José Escarce, along with longtime education activist Dr. Kathy Wisnicki. Pico activist Ana Jara failed to win CEPS backing.
"CEPS believes the current BOE is making significant progress during financially difficult times," the group said in a statement. "This is evidenced by increasing test scores particularly for English language learners and students on the bottom end of the achievement gap."
The group pointed to a list of accomplishments by the currrent board, which "has provided (SAMOHI) with strong leadership, additional student counselors and an ambitious multi-year redesign, increased its API score by 25 points last year and, on the High School Exit Exam, outperformed state and Los Angeles County students for all subgroups.
"CEPS strongly supports this progress and applauds the efforts of both Board President Dr. José Escarce and immediate past Board President Maria Leon-Vazquez in shepherding and overseeing these efforts," the group's statement said.
Dr. Escarce -- an MD who holds a PhD in Health Sciences and is a professor at UCLA School of Medicine and a Senior Researcher in the Rand Health Program -- "brings his superior research and analytical skills to the Board along with his passion for public education," the group said.
Leon-Vazquez, the group said, has "served well" as the Board Liaison to the Special Education District Advisory Committee and "her continued involvement as a Board member is important for improving Special Ed in our District."
Leon Vazquez "is also closely involved with many civic and community groups and has an understanding of our community and history that provides the Board with valuable insights," the group said..
Wisnicki -- who has a PhD from UCLA in Educational Research and Applied Statistics and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship to study at-risk children -- "has also been a dedicated, thoughtful, courageous and effective supporter of all our public schools," the group said.A former PTA President, Wisnicki co-chaired the campaigns for both Measure EE and Measure S and is a member of the District's Financial Oversight Committee. Wisnicki, the group said, "has been a political force in Malibu, helping to found a Teen Center, working to elect a youth-friendly Malibu City Council, and successfully lobbying for increased City of Malibu funding for our public schools."
As part of the evaluation process, CEPS held a public forum and also asked candidates to answer a comprehensive list of questions. The questions and anwsers are posted on the group's Web site.
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