Gentille Barkhordarian

The Clear Choice

Studies have shown that children made little to no progress during virtual learning, especially in disadvantaged homes. Yet, our teachers unions lobbied and achieved one of the longest school closures in the world. This was unopposed by the board for a very long time. And only until the situation was spotlighted by national media did our board members begin to vocalize that it must end. Still to this day, UTLA denies learning loss…

In addition, against CDC, State and County recommendations, UTLA refused to end mask mandates, bargaining for pay increases and delayed teacher evaluations, until the new Superintendent intervened…

Our board has largely let UTLA manage decisions for our district and this has led to families leaving. Declining enrollments hurt the students that stay, especially the ones for whom leaving is not an option.

If elected, Gentille will support Superintendent Carvalho in regaining control of public education with kids and families first in mind.

Give parents a seat at the negotiating table:

Gentille is committed to involving parents in a way that the board has not done. The incumbent in district 4 removed parent committees throughout the pandemic. Gentille would have done the exact opposite and bolster the channels for involving parents, who at the time were closest to the students. She is running to give parents a seat at the negotiating table so that when important decisions are made about our children’s future, they are made with parent input.

Address the mental health crisis among students:

School closures and mandates have caused a great deal of suffering and social isolation for our children, turning into an emotional health crisis. Gentille would vote for hiring professional counselors on a part-time or on an as-needed basis to help with the mental health crisis. But again, she would encourage parent involvement to be able to determine when and if services are needed.

Address the learning loss:

We need to attract and retain students which means keeping challenging courses and providing advanced level courses. The access to classes like these should not be reserved for students in expensive private schools. For students that are not passing, we need to use the resources that we have in efficient ways to help raise them up, and involve parents in determining what resources would be best. We must also support children with learning differences with robust resources such as teachers assistants and appropriate services. Parent input in all of this is critical and Gentille is committed to involving parents to make sure that our limited resources are used in the ways that will benefit our students the most.

Gentille believes that recovering from the learning loss and staffing shortages comes down to strengthening parent involvement. While there is a labor shortage we should look at this as an opportunity to engage parents. We can share resources and have workshops that better help parents tutor their children at home; similar to what they did last year while children were on Zoom.

Address staffing shortages:

Our new superintendent inherited a district that had one of the longest school closures in the world. The impact is deep and still untold. The district was given $5 billion dollars to combat the learning loss and they haven’t spent that quickly enough on instruction; Instead, they’ve been spending on COVID testing, masking and other COVID related mitigations.

There are staffing shortages and we cannot depend on our own employees for some of this; We must get creative in how we address this; We must look outside to accomplished tutoring and instruction organizations.

We can also encourage parents to donate a few hours of their time to tutor kids on Zoom; This will assist economically disadvantaged families or those where both parents are working.

Last year hundreds of LAUSD employees were fired for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine. In addition, hundreds of unvaccinated educators were moved to online instruction with the City of Angels, despite several of these teachers already having been infected, which we now know provides material protection. In addition, we know that the vaccine does not prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Many of these teachers are still very excited to return to the classroom, and studies show that children don’t learn very well in a virtual setting. If elected, Gentille would vote to end mandates, and bring the COA teachers and students that want to, back to the classroom. This will help students academically and emotionally.

Invest in our teachers:

Gentille plans to strengthen teacher training with a strong evaluation process. She believes in training our teachers in the areas that they need most, just as she developed when companies invested in her. Without this targeted approach, we will not be able to continue developing our teachers. Additionally, Gentille would like to incentivize employees based on performance, much as the leading organizations she worked for did. She believes that we need to reward and motivate hardworking individuals.

Improve Campus Safety:

Gentille will strive to make campuses safe for children by maintaining our campus officers, not downsizing. The incumbent in board district four voted to defund our campus police and that measure passed. On campus safety has declined as a result. Being a parent of school aged children helps Gentille see the realities of our situation as they impact children and she will not fall into the trap of trending social media campaigns. She will use common sense and protect our most vulnerable.