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Morning Brief: An LA Teacher’s Thoughts, Voting In LA, And A New Mandate On Outdoor Watering

 First graders at Brainard Elementary demonstrate the very lengthy process of lining up, socially distanced, outside.
First graders at Brainard Elementary School.
(Kyle Stokes
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 26.

It’s been less than 48 hours since the latest school shooting in America. And to be honest with you, my friends, I can’t stop thinking about the 19 children and the two teachers who were killed. As a former teacher in Houston (and as a former education journalist!), I have so many questions: 

Are teachers addressing what happened with their students? Do teachers feel prepared in the case of an active shooter situation? Do students know what to do? I talked to a teacher friend who reminded me we didn’t have active shooter drills in the school at which we began our teaching careers. How many schools are prepared?

Jennifer Trochez MacLean is a fourth grade teacher at L.A. Unified School District’s Gates Street Elementary, and she said these preparations have become common.

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“Recently, we had a lockdown drill and that gave us an opportunity to talk about what we do when we have an intruder on campus,” said Trochez MacLean. Her students asked questions like these: “‘Why do we have lockdowns?’ And, ‘what do you do if you are not in the classroom and the doors go shut because we are not allowed to open them?’ There was a discussion about what we do when we are waiting inside, waiting to see what happens.”

Trochez MacLean continued: “You have these conversations that no one prepares you for when you get your teaching credentials, but yet it is a reality. It’s a conversation we need to have with our students to assure them that we will do whatever we can to keep them safe.” 

After I spoke to Trochez MacLean yesterday, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announced he would be expanding school safety protocols in light of the Texas shooting. You can read more about his proposals here.

Sigh. It’s easy to feel helpless with news like this. But I’m here to show you what you CAN do: be aware of how and when to vote. With Primary Election Day coming up in a few weeks (pssst, it’s on Tuesday, June 7!), I'll be sharing some information ahead of time to help you prepare.

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Did you know that L.A. is the largest city in the country in which voters elect the school board directly? That makes these some of the most consequential and expensive school board elections in the country. It also means the mayor has very little sway over education in LA – so you should probably pay attention to these races. I know my teacher/education journalist brain went straight to check this out. If YOU want to see what candidates for Districts 2, 4 and 6 have to say about the most dire education issues, check out this story in our Voter Game Plan.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go ... A Little Bit Of LA's (Corrupt) History

Los Angeles Mayor Frank Shaw is given a badge
Los Angeles Mayor Frank Shaw is given a badge which bears the official seal of the City of Los Angeles. In 1938, Mayor Shaw would be recalled from office in an anti-corruption campaign.
(Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library)
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From crony capitalism to gangster graft, corruption in L.A. politics goes waaaaaay back. But with voting for mayor coming soon, there have been a lot of conversations about how to reform it.

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