Skip Navigation or Skip to Content

By Julian Peeples

Across California, members of the CTA Family are rising to answer the call to public service – by running for election to school boards this November.

Seeking to bring their knowledge and experience about schools and education to school boards in their home communities, these education champions are stepping up to build the schools all students deserve as elected policymakers. We’ll be spotlighting a number of educators and CTA staff running for school board here at the digital home of California Educator as the November Election approaches.

Meet one of these education champions: Brian Guerrero, CTA staff with the Institute for Professional Development and former longtime classroom educator, who is running for Culver City School Board.

Why are you running for school board?

The quick answer is that my local school board has decent, well-intentioned people on it, but none of them have any experience in a K-12 classroom or as union members. Those are voices that should be represented on the dais and part of every decision a school board makes. Culver City is a pretty progressive city, and the current board is trying to do good work around equity and inclusion and strong, well-rounded curriculum, but I’ve seen a number of these efforts fall flat in the last couple of years because they don’t know what’s necessary to actually implement their ideas at school sites and in the classroom, and they’re not good at communicating with stakeholders (including teachers, classified staff, and their unions).  Finally, I work in the CTA IPD department, so I work with best practices and new state policies every day, and I was a teacher and chapter leaders for years.  During the pandemic, I’ve been able to watch some of the school board meetings via Zoom, and – WOW! – the information the board gets from district staff is very incomplete, but the board doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, so they don’t always ask the right questions.  I hope to bring my perspectives and experiences as an educator, union leader and organizer, as well as my policy knowledge, to the board so we can follow through on the promises we’ve made to create safer, more inclusive, more equitable and more successful public schools for our students.

What are your top priorities for the school district?

  • Provide high-quality, rigorous, well-supported academic, social-emotional, artistic and athletic experiences for all students on safe, well-maintained campuses.
  • Promise access and inclusion for all students, particularly students with disabilities and English learners, in the high-quality experiences provided to other students.
  • Reflect critically on existing policies and practices for barriers to student success, asking uncomfortable questions and using data and listening to the experiences of students and families for answers.
  • Value diversity in all forms, celebrating the richness and joy of our community and assuring that diverse voices have a role in decision-making at schools and at the district.
  • Engage with stakeholder groups regularly, reaching out, listening and collaborating with diverse communities on matters they feel are important and that impact students, families, employees and the district.

What does it mean to you to support educators in your job and as a school board member?

I believe my day job, where I’m focused on training and policy, will complement and inform my role as a school board member. That said, as a local chapter leader, we had some really bad experiences with school board members who thought they knew everything and tried to micromanage the district and even teachers. So I see a school board member’s role as creating the policies that foster student and employee success and bring down barriers, and to promote a district culture that listens to stakeholders and meaningfully involves them in decision-making.  It reminds me of being chapter president and having the talk with my site reps – “Look, if you and the teachers at your site can work with the principal to solve problems on site, without coming to me and without the principal running to the superintendent … and it’s consistent with the contract … great!  You’re building a culture of collaboration, problem-solving and shared leadership.” I hope to create spaces for educators and education support professionals, students and families to work with the district to solve problems and create schools that meet all students’ and staff members’ needs. When I advocate for community schools that are led by educators and community members, I have to stay true to that commitment even if/when I’m one of official district leaders who could try to make all the decisions myself because “I know best,” because I don’t “know best” – I know a lot, but so do all the other stakeholders and communities, and real success will be when we’re building success together.

Any words for CTA members about your campaign?

So, not to whine or anything, but this is really hard. I’ve supported candidates before and even run a small PAC, but – HOLY COW – when it’s your campaign, there are so many moving parts!  Rasing money, chasing endorsements, figuring out what your messages are going to be … and tailoring them to different audiences, organizing political event and campaign walks, keeping up with the day job …  It’s a lot.  But we’ve been saying for years that more educators and labor voices need to get on school boards.  It was always true, but especially now that anti-education folks are trying to get on, too.  So folks need to step up, and not just some abstract person over there, YOU need to step up. Run. If you’re not ready to run (yet), get really involved in helping a friend run and learn how to build a campaign. Practice makes perfect. And it’s not just school boards. I’ve had to go interview with multiple “Democratic” clubs and committees, and I’ll tell you, not all of them are supportive of educators or labor. High-school-dance “who-likes-whom” still plays a large part in their decisions to endorse or support campaigns. How do we fight that? By joining our local political clubs and county committees, and speaking up for educators and labor there, so that when our colleagues run for school board or a school bond comes up or there’s a pro-education proposition, we’re there to support them.


Facebook: Guerrero for Culver City Unified School Board 2022


The Discussion 0 comments Post a Comment

Leave a comment

Please post with kindness. Your email address willl not be published. Required fields are marked*