Board of Education doubles down on commitment to civic engagement beyond instruction in the classroom

LOS ANGELES (May 8, 2018) -- The L.A. Unified Board of Education voted unanimously today to pass a resolution directing the district to take a number of actions designed to support school communities in increasing voter registration and participating in elections.

Sponsored by Board President Mónica García and co-sponsored by Board Member Kelly Gonez and Student Board Member Benjamin Holtzman, the resolution entitled, “A New Generation of Leaders for Los Angeles, California and the Nation” declares April to be “LAUSD’s Voter Turnout Month” in 2017-18. The resolution also directs district departments to work with community organizations and the County of Los Angeles to ensure voter registration guides and other resources are available at parent centers, high schools and adult schools.

“School districts in California, like L.A. Unified, can do more to increase political participation and perspectives of youth and families,” Board President García said. “Students, families, educators and community partners will be ready to make their voice heard at the next election on June 5th.”

Added Board Member Gonez, “Our mission to prepare students for lifelong success includes encouraging them to engage civically and make their voices heard on the critical issues facing our nation, state, city and school district. We are shaping the leaders of tomorrow.”

Holtzman voiced support on behalf of fellow students.

“I think it’s absolutely great that the district is promoting and advocating for voter registration and pre-registration among students,” he said. “By passing this resolution, we are empowering our students to become civically active and to use their voices to implement the change they want seen. I hope this empowerment shows its results at the polls in June and November and all the elections to come.”

The resolution also directs the district to distribute voter registration materials to all high school seniors, promote voter registration activities during graduation ceremonies and year-end activities, and offer opportunities for students to engage in service learning projects geared toward voter registration and poll worker programs.

Affirming his approval, Board Vice President Melvoin said, “As we see L.A. Unified students increasingly joining the activism around movements like safer schools and educational equity, we want to support the record numbers of California students pre-registering to vote at age sixteen and encourage young leaders to continue getting involved in the civic process.”

“Voting is one of the most fundamental rights Americans poses,” Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic added. “And sadly, so few of us choose to exercise it. It is therefore extremely important that we take steps to show our students the power of the ballot box and give them the tools they need to shape the future of our democratic process.”

"Democracy is strong when we have active participation from our youth, and L.A. County is leading the charge with the highest number of pre-registrations in the state,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “I applaud the L.A. Unified School District's efforts to make voter registration a part of civics lessons in classrooms across Los Angeles. This will increase youth civic awareness and participation now and for years to come."

"There is no doubt in our minds that young people are ready to take their power to the polls," said Luis Sanchez, executive director, of YVote, a statewide network that has registered and preregistered over 30,000 young voters since 2017. "This year it is very clear that young people are demanding their voices be heard. Resolutions like this send an important message that their voices matter."

“We applaud the district’s voter registration efforts across campuses to encourage students to get out and vote,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. “The voter registration initiative provides an ideal opportunity to pre-register eligible 16- and 17-year-olds, ensuring that they are added to the voter rolls when they turn 18 and are set down the path of political participation.”

"Registering youth to vote should be our highest priority for it is a prerequisite to voting,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of Su Vota Es Su Voz, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increase voter registration among Latinos. “Voting is a prerequisite to a healthy civil society as well as improved governance. The Los Angeles Unified School District is to be commended for its leadership on student registration."

                                                          ###

Contact: Isidro Armenta (213) 241-6180