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Last night, UWGLA hosted the first of three forums for the candidates who are competing for coveted spots on the L.A. Unified School Board.

Although turnout in school board elections is usually low, the race for board district 4 – which spans the Westside and parts of the Valley – is clearly drawing intense interest. Nearly 200 people packed the Venice Boys & Girls Club on a rainy Thursday evening to hear school board member Steve Zimmer and challenger Kate Anderson debate the pressing issues facing L.A.’s education system.

While acknowledging a number of shared priorities (securing more funding for schools, providing stronger support to teachers), the candidates offered different views on how to achieve their goals.

Zimmer defended the recent teacher evaluation deal reached by Superintendent John Deasy and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), while Anderson said it’s a step in the right direction but needs to be made more robust. Other topics included Deasy’s reform agenda and the expansion of charter schools. For a closer look at the candidates’ responses last night, check out the LA School Report.

The audience was rapt for nearly two hours. It was a thoughtful, civil and, at times, passionate evening – and an encouraging reminder that folks care deeply about who represents the interests of students in Los Angeles.

Check out this video of the event:

And take a look at this slideshow:

United Way’s next candidate forum – in board district 6, which includes the East Valley – is scheduled for Thursday, January 31. Please click here for more info.