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Gutierrez to run for State Superintendent
of Public Instruction

Lydia Gutierrez, a long-time California educator and elected official on the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, has formally announced her candidacy for State Superintendent of Instruction. Gutierrez is a public school teacher with over 20 years of experience teaching children from kindergarten to 8th grade. She holds a master’s degree in education, and she is BCLAD certified. Additionally, Gutierrez serves as a Master Teacher for the UCLA Mathematics Project; she is a Fellow in Writing with California State University, Long Beach; and she has been a presenter at the Los Angeles Teachers Mathematics Association.

In the past, Gutierrez has also worked in the aerospace industry—both as an administrator, and as an acting cost-estimating supervisor, overseeing contract administration, scheduling, and budget analysis.

Lydia Gutierrez has served on the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council for six years; she is currently serving on their Education and Budget & Finance Committee.

Upon making her announcement to run for office, Gutierrez issued a scathing critique of the California education system’s scheduled move to the national Common Core State Standards initiative (CCSS).

While many remained silent, Gutierrez spoke up about the inherent dangers in the state’s intention to overhaul current standards, emphasizing that the completely untested Common Core State Standards do not reflect an academic bar of excellence, and were created without any evidence-based practice.

“The California educational system is in disarray,” Gutierrez said, “and Common Core mandates are not the answer. School districts across the states will be forced to settle for mediocrity under the cover-up name of ‘College and Career Ready’.”

In her critique, Gutierrez also pointed out that parent and local control is a pivotal element for every child’s academic success.

“Parents need to know that when they have a concern about their child, they will be heard, and local boards offer the best avenue to hear them. What is disturbing about the move towards Common Core is that parents, teachers and educational scholars were shut out in the development of these standards,” Gutierrez said. “Presently, school districts and charter schools across the state are scrambling to secure a curriculum that will teach these new standards. The question is, where are the oversight review boards allowing parents and teachers transparency for review before adopting this new curriculum? I believe that any curriculum that is adopted by a school district or charter school should be reviewed by the public. This is a requirement that I would like to see in every school’s bylaws.”

“What is even more troubling,” Gutierrez continued, “is that Common Core Standards are owned by two private organizations, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither organization has legislative authority, nor are they accountable to the public. The Common Core Standards cannot be changed or adjusted, because they own the copyright—which means closing the door on any discussion between parents and educators.”

Gutierrez went on to say that the constant bombardment of legislation and regulation is dramatically and detrimentally affecting public education in California by placing a severe financial burden on schools without providing proper funding.

“In desperation, schools have had to decimate their foundations by funding part-time nurses, counselors, librarians, music instructors, speech therapists, and having to deal with less custodian services, fewer or no aides, and the closing of vocational training programs,” Gutierrez said. “These resources and services are all critical in developing a well-rounded child. What people fail to realize is that these jobs were once full-time positions for every school in the 1960’s, but now they are barely present, and it has been the classroom teacher who has had to fill in the gap while having to endure a revolving door of administrative requirements year after year.”

As a result, many districts have turned to supplemental grant monies to help them strive towards their goal of achieving academic excellence. These grants have strings of accountability attached, meaning that teachers are required to provide yet another level of documentation in exchange for funding. Every moment that a teacher spends on these requirements represents a moment lost in the opportunity for that teacher to spend educating their students. In the environment of high-stakes testing, California’s mercilessly over-tested children will become little more than collateral damage in the battle to prepare for the final End of Year Test.

Regarding CCSS’ focus on technology being the wave of the future, Gutierrez went on to say that “teaching a child on a computer how to move and click a mouse is far from preparing a child to be ‘College and Career Ready’.”

“Humanities, the soft sciences, are what create a child’s higher-order thinking skills. It is not the ability to respond to someone else’s creative computer program,” said Gutierrez. “Art, drama, music, literature, all play an important role in creating an emotionally-balanced, educated child.”

Gutierrez said that what should be of concern in this mantra of ‘College and Career Ready’ is that we do not currently have the appropriate number of qualified teachers to teach vocational classes; nor do we have the funding for proper classroom setup. Presently, school districts and charter schools are using every cent that they have in order to develop, train for, and reproduce Common Core-focused materials and curriculum.

“In a move of hypocrisy, Governor Brown allowed 30 adult and career educational schools to close in Los Angeles — totaling 72 statewide — while promoting ‘College and Career Ready’ education for California students,” Gutierrez said. “He did not want our K-12 monies supporting these vocational programs for our youth, but pushed it off to our over-crowded community colleges, which are now offering classes to the highest bidder because of the over-crowding. The fact that there is not enough funding for this educational direction, demonstrates that we are all in a word manipulation game, and not working toward the academic success of our children.”

Gutierrez said that as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, she will be responsible and diligent in her oversight of public educational monies, and that she will be the voice for the overall academic well-being of the education system in the state of California.

“I am running to create transparency and accountability of the tax dollars allocated to education and to assure that those dollars are making it into the hands that need it most—our schools” Gutierrez said, “I do not support Common Core as a valid measuring tool to bring about academic success when it has not been piloted to prove its academic success and directly takes parent and local control away.”