Carl J. Petersen for LAUSD School Board 2017 (ID# 1384794)

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Carl Petersen (Applied)

Running for LAUSD School Board in CA

Who am I?

In 1988, I moved to Los Angeles from the suburbs of New York to attend Musician’s Institute then married, raised two children (Becca and Jessie) and bought a house in Van Nuys. Eventually, I continued the education I had begun at Pace University, getting a degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.

Life does not always go as planned and in 2006 I found myself in the new role of single father. This was followed by falling in love again, moving to Northridge and marrying Nicole at Disneyland. As an added bonus, I became a father to Nicole’s triplets, Sydney, Zoey and Morgan. In my career, I advanced to Director of Logistics at Arecont Vision.

As a father of five, I have personally seen what happens when a massive bureaucracy stands in the way. After the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) made me fight for the services that my daughters’ teachers agreed they required, I decided to run for office so that I could push for change. I was not successful in the March 3, 2015 election, but I did help force the incumbent into a runoff and eventual defeat.

In addition to my work and family responsibilities, I have also played drums in several local bands. I love the adventure of a good thrill ride and can often be found with the family at an amusement park. My wife and I also foster for The Gentle Barn animal rescue. Life is busy, chaotic and satisfying.

What am I fighting for?

“When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids?”
- Mónica García, Incumbent

If “a society is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members”, then how should the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) be measured? We have a sitting Board Member who openly engages in divisive “us vs. them” politics, blaming children in need of special education services for the District’s budget problems. She encourages saving costs by forcing the most vulnerable of these students to mainstream with their general education peers even if it endangers their health and safety and reduces the quality of their educational experience. Shouldn’t a Board Member represent all children?

I am running because I believe that the District is not achieving its mission of allowing all children to access their full potential. For those that are college bound, we need to make sure that they are adequately prepared to move on. However, this cannot be our only focus. For those who seek a different career path, we need to return access to vocational training. I believe that music and art are also essential to a well-rounded education. Adult education is also part of the District’s mission and cannot be ignored.

My DFA Values

Supporting a public education system is the most important of all progressive values because education is the great equalizer. My father was given the opportunity of a free college education and used it to rise from some of the toughest neighborhoods in the South Bronx. As a result he was able to raise his family in a middle class environment. All children deserve this same chance of achieving the American Dream.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), public education is under attack. Eli Broad has unleashed a plan to “reach 50 percent charter market share” within the District. This LAUSD faces bankruptcy as it will lose funding while facing the higher costs of educating English language learners, those in need of Special Education services and students who do not do well on standardized tests. All of these groups are underrepresented in charter schools. The success of the Broad Plan would also mean that half of the students in Los Angeles would attend schools that have no accountability to parents, students or taxpayers. While my opponent’s campaign is expected to be funded by the California Charter School Association, I represent those who oppose privatizing our schools.

Another important progressive value is standing up for the most vulnerable members of our society. My opponent has derided special education because it takes away funding from “our own kids”. As a father of two daughters on the autism spectrum, I understand the importance of ensuring access to education for all students.

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