Robert D. Skeels: a community candidate for LAUSD School Board

What if the best candidate — measured on positions alone — is also the most under-funded candidate for Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education? At K-12 News Network, we thought you deserve to hear from an underdog. Note how plushly funded Michelle Rhee has just in the past 24 hours donated $250,000 to “corporate reform” candidates that Robert Skeels is running against. This is on top of $1 million donated from New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and hundreds of thousands from wealthy Angelenos to support charter advocates who have a stake in making money off crisis and trouble in Los Angeles schools.

For a reminder of what’s at stake in electing LAUSD Board of Education members with integrity and who’ll uphold the public trust as their guiding principles, consider how a newly-constructed $68 million dollar Los Angeles K-8 school was awarded to a local charter chain instead of to a community group consisting of residents of the neighborhood, area teachers and other educators, and community members who voiced and decisively voted their preference for community operation of the school.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Should Mayor Bloomberg help elect LAUSD School Board members?


Read Skeels’ position papers and thoughts on the place of public education in a free democracy. And vote wisely. — Ed. K12NN


“Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector.” —
Professor Noam Chomsky

Robert D. Skeels for LAUSD School BoardReaders have probably already seen the news of how the morning after I trounced the incumbent at a local candidate forum, that NYC Mayor Bloomberg increased my opponent’s already obscene campaign fund by a whopping $1 Million. We had begun our campaign early, because we knew that the corporate reformers would “up the ante” this election cycle, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the right-wing Coalition for School Reform (CSR) would raise over $2.5 Million in support of the corporate candidates for the March 5, 2013 election. This is significantly more than they raised last election cycle.

The intractable Los Angeles Times asked me for a quotation on the latest plutocrat donation to the corporate CSR slush fund. As their custom, they only used an out-of-context sentence fragment from my quote. Professor Diane Ravitch, on the other hand, used my full quote along with an introduction:

Robert Skeels is a pro-public school candidate in Los Angeles. He has raised $15,000. He will not get anything from Eli Broad or Michael Bloomberg.

He comments:

The LA Times asked me for a quote on Bloomberg’s $1 Million CSR donation. Here’s my response: “As a community candidate who has raised over $15,000 through myriad small contributions from local parents, community members, and classroom teachers, I find it dismaying that a single out-of-state billionaire has a greater voice in our school board election than all the working families of District 2. Where were these millions of dollars when the incumbent callously cut early childhood education, adult education, and K-12 arts last year?”

I’m not expecting to out-fund-raise the billionaire boys club, but every donation counts. If you believe in public education, and have followed my work on and other sites, then you know what I stand for. If you’re in Los Angeles, we can use your physical help with precinct walking, phone banking, and letters to the editor. If you aren’t in town, consider a donation. We’re a few weeks out, and the last minute help can make all the difference.

Community candidate video

Award-winning documentary film-maker Chris Hume captured footage and interviews from the Robert D. Skeels for LAUSD School Board campaign’s third weekend of precinct walking on January 19, 2013. Filmed on 1st Street in Boyle Heights at Purgatory Pizza just prior to the group going out to talk to voters. Featured in the video are two widely respected educators whose support is greatly appreciated.

  • Dr. John Fernandez — Teacher, Theodore Roosevelt High School (Ret.) and former Director of the Mexican-American Education Commission for the LAUSD.
  • Martha Infante — 2009 CCSS Teacher of the Year, National Board Certified Teacher, Past-President Southern CA Social Science Association, proud public middle school teacher.

Here is the text of our latest campaign flyer:

Trusted by Community, Rooted in Community

Robert D. Skeels’ longstanding as a principled community activist has won him broad support with families, community leaders, and grassroots organizations. LA Schools Report recently wrote about him: “just one School Board candidate [is] running a truly grassroots campaign built on dozens of volunteers and more than a hundred small contributions of as little as $5 — and little else by way of outside support.” Robert’s record of defending schools like Garfield HS from outside takeover, siding with public school parents against co-locations, advocating for the rights of special needs students, and standing up against the incumbent’s cuts to early childhood education, elementary arts, and adult education has demonstrated that he will aways fight for the community and stand up against corporate interests.

Trusted by Education Experts, Rooted in What Works

Because of his extensive education policy knowledge and deep understanding of local issues, Robert D. Skeels is the only District 2 candidate endorsed by both United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA). Robert is also endorsed the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, Dr. Diane Ravitch, and many other national and local education experts including: Professor Stephen Krashen, Professor Paul L. Thomas, Professor James Horn, Dr. Rosemary L. Lee, Dr. John Thompson, Dr. John Fernandez, Susan Ohanian, and Cheryl Ortega. A regular contributor to education websites like the nationally recognized, Robert is an advocate of what works in education, not expensive fads or wasteful experiments. He supports proven, research based methods of pedagogy, including dual language immersion programs, project based learning, free voluntary reading with ample access to libraries, and critical studies.

Supporting Programs that Serve Our Community

The current LAUSD leadership has a long history of squandering our community’s money as evidenced by massive spending on useless assessments, expensive consultants, highly discredited value added methodologies, and nine figure real estate giveaways to lucrative charter corporations. Instead of looking to cut the former expenses, LAUSD leaders have targeted programs that our communities depend upon most — Early Education, Student Readiness and Language Development Program (SRLDP), Elementary Arts, and Adult Education. The Superintendent and LAUSD Board of Education President have continually balanced the budget on the backs of the working people. Robert D. Skeels has been on the forefront of every struggle to fight budget cuts and to save programs critical to our community.

Public education activist, researcher, and writer Robert D. Skeels has lived, worked, and organized in District 2 for over 18 years. He and his wife, Yoon Jung Lee, make their home in Historic Filipinotown. Robert is a U.S. Navy Veteran. He attended Glendale Community College and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Robert taught Catechism at St. Teresa of Avila Church for 12 years. For the past 15 years he has volunteered ten hours a week teaching life and literacy skills at the Mary Lind Foundation. Robert is a committed member of a number of grassroots education and immigrant rights organizations including Coalition for Educational Justice, Public Education and Social Justice Advocacy, The Trinational Coalition To Defend Public Education, The Southern California Immigration Coalition, and Veterans for Peace. Robert’s articles and essays have appeared in publications including: Schools Matter, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Daily Censored, Echo Park Patch, and The Los Angeles Daily News.

Robert’s campaign website is


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I'm Cynthia Liu, Owner/Founder of K12 News Network. I'm the proud product of public schools through post-grad, the mom of a child in public schools, and the daughter of two teachers. Connect with me professionally on LinkedIn.

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  1. Concerned Voter - February 26, 2013, 4:03 pm

    I’m sorry Mr. Skeels, but I will be voting for a candidate who has actually worked in classroom and has real experience to understand what makes a classroom successful. Writing about the problems in LAUSD and “volunteering in a classroom” is NOT nearly the same as actually working in a classroom and dealing with the challenges head on. And camping out in front of LAUSD headquarters does NOT make you a “problem solver.” Los Angeles needs a candidate who knows what the profession of teaching needs to be successful. I think you are just looking for a “paying job” because I can’t seem to find any profession/career in your literature. Please leave the board seat for the other candidates that can actually contribute realistic, feasible solutions. If you really care about LAUSD and its students, you will look for a job somewhere else. LAUSD can’t afford another board member proposing unrealistic, radical policies that will only incite argument and debate instead of helping LAUSD move forward. If you are really the “community candidate,” then help the community get a real educator in the board.

    • Robert D. Skeels - March 27, 2013, 2:03 pm

      Dear troll-like @Concerned Voter:

      I’ve worked at the same firm as their senior researcher for over 14 years. A “paying job” that pays significantly more than the LAUSD Board. So much more so, that I would have had to keep that job and have taken the part-time LAUSD option, so as not to take a giant pay cut. In other words, I would have been working two jobs for the same salary that I make now. Sorry to disprove your juvenile assertion that I was merely looking for a job. Since I’ll forget more about education policy than you’ll ever know, I suppose I can forgive your making cowardly anonymous insults.

      You didn’t list which candidate you did support, but tragically the billionaire backed candidate, who is neither an educator nor a teacher, won reelection. I finished in second place from a field of five candidates with over 5,200 votes. AALA, UTLA, and the top education academics in the nation all endorsed me. Apparently, your milquetoast “concerns” about my strong qualifications are shared by you and you alone.

      Had a “real educator” that was actually immersed in policy, understood complexity, and believed in social justice run for the seat, I would have worked on their campaign instead of running myself. Sadly, no alternative candidate fit those requirements.

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