Mystery Education Theater 3000

Tag: Nov. 2014 Election

It’s Election Day 2014 in WCCUSD!

If you haven’t already voted, I’d like to encourage you to vote for:

Liz Block (El Cerrito)
Valerie Cuevas (Richmond)
Ayana Young (Hercules)

for the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) school board.

Here is my background in the school district.

The main thing about this election is that the district kingpin, Charles Ramsey, is out, but his machine remains: Madeline Kronenberg, his second wheel, Peter Chau, his designated heir, and that huge pile of construction-interest money that has flooded every school board election before. We have the opportunity to finish the exit of the Ramsey machine by rejecting his candidates and finding new leadership willing to focus the district on student achievement and not simply passing another bond…and another. In looking at the candidates I rejected the incumbents and the people I felt were using the Board as a stepping stone to higher office. Normally, this would be a little arbitrary, but I feel this is an important juncture and requires less tolerance for failed incumbency and using the school board as a politician’s bush league. I’m also looking for candidates who are more supportive of reining in our bond program and less interested in getting into silly battles like the Summit charter application.

Liz Block is someone who has worked as a principal turning around a school, doing what many of us (but not all) would like to do at the district level. She also has substantial experience working with special education issues as a school psychologist. Special eduction is an important and complex part of what a public school district does.

Valerie Cuevas is a director at an organization that advocates for educational opportunities for all (The Education Trust – West). She has also worked as staff for the Assembly committee on higher education and for a LAUSD school board member. Her knowledge of the ins and outs of educational policy should complement Todd Groves’ more homegrown wonkishness — well once the dust of the election campaign settles.

The third person I’m going with is Ayana Young, a lawyer and parent of children in the district. Her educational background is training in a Special Eduction masters program and working as a substitute teacher in Oakland and here. I like her as a candidate, because she is direct and honest.

When you look at a board, you have to think of how everyone will meld together. A mix of Randall Enos, Todd Groves, Liz Block, Valerie Cuevas, and Ayana Young would have the right balance of differences in perspective and style while still having common connections.

Whatever board is elected, it’s important to move beyond the hypocritical whining about the other guy’s campaign funding, but not your own. The board has received proposals before about addressing campaign finance. Now that the monopoly has become a duopoly, perhaps the board can finally take this issue up seriously.

Note: Yes, Cuevas and Block are benefiting from funding from the state charter school association and Steve Chamberlin’s group presumably, in part at least, because they are least likely to get “into silly battles like the Summit charter application” and they have a better chance of winning. For an excellent follow-up on the campaign finance story with all the numbers, check this CCT reporter’s blog post.


Your eyes are getting sleepy. Very sleepy. Listen to my voice. Now open your eyes. Fill in the ovals shown in the graphic. Now wake up when I snap my fingers.

WCCUSD Candidate Forum: Richmond

As we enter the final days before the election ends for 3 seats on the WCCUSD school board, there’s still time to attend a candidate forum.

Sponsors: WCCUSD & League of Women Voters
Richmond High School — Little Theater
1250 23rd Street

Be sure to write down at least a draft of your questions before you go.

Want to see some video of other forums?

Contra Costa Time Editorial Board

[link to page]

Election Preview: CCTV, CC Times, League of Women Voters, and CC Elections Department

[link to page]


I discovered that Don Gosney had been uploading recordings of the WCCUSD/LWV forums and the El Cerrito Democratic Club forum. He doesn’t group them together on his YouTube channel, so I made a playlist with links to them.

WCCUSD BOE Election: Main Institutional Endorsements

There are 10 candidates running for 3 seats on the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education. 2 incumbents are running; Charles Ramsey is not running for re-election.

One aspect of the campaign process is getting endorsements from various organizations and the main local paper. Just like I did in 2012, here is the current scorecard:

El Cerrito Democratic Club (0)
Central Labor Council (2)XX
County Democratic Party (3)XXX
Local One (4)XXXX
Contra Costa Times (3)XXX
SFER Action Network - West Contra Costa (2)XX
CCSA Advocates (2)XX

The Candidates

  1. CHESTER R. STEVENS (Hercules)
  2. MISTER PHILLIPS (Richmond)
  3. ELIZABETH “LIZ” BLOCK (El Cerrito)
  6. VALERIE CUEVAS (Richmond)
  7. ELAINE MERRIWEATHER (Richmond, Incumbent)
  8. RAQUEL DONOSO (Richmond)
  10. MADELINE KRONENBERG (El Cerrito, Incumbent)

The Endorsers

  1. The Democratic Party is pretty much The Party in West County. The El Cerrito Democratic Club has been an active party club in the district for a long time. (New ones for Hercules and West County have started.) Endorsements require a 60% threshold, which may explain the lack of any endorsement this time.
  2. The Central Labor Council is the county version of the AFL-CIO. They are connected through the construction program for the school and the unions for employees. They are a big “door hanger” presence, too.
  3. The county Democratic Party has an elected Central Committee. As I was saying, the Democratic Party is The Party around here.
  4. The United Teachers of Richmond (UTR)  is the district’s teachers’ union.
  5. Public Employees Union, Local One is the union for most of the non-teacher employees in WCCUSD.
  6. The Contra Costa Times is the local paper that pays the most attention to WCCUSD.
  7. SFER Action Network – West Contra Costa is a local summer-only student project of the Students for Educational Reform, a group some consider an “astroturf” group.
  8. CCSA Advocates is the advocacy arm of the California Charter Schools Association. It’s a state-wide organization, but some people are making them an issue at the local level this election.

Update: 10/16/2014

WCCUSD Candidate Forum: Crescent Park

The same day is not a good time to post about an event but here is the info I got:

Sept 10th Wed. • 5 pm – 7 pm
Sponsors: Crescent Park Council and The BlackBoard of Contra Costa County
Crescent Park Multicultural Family Resource Center,
5004 Hartnett Avenue
Richmond, California 94804

Hopefully anyone who attends can update with comments on this post after attending the event.

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