LA school board race: Steve Zimmer, Nick Melvoin share why they're running

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two candidates are squaring off in a run-off election for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education- the most expensive school board race in U.S. history.

Teacher and attorney Nick Melvoin and LAUSD President Steve Zimmer are running for the school board seat in District 4. Outside groups have spent $7 million to help spread the word.

Zimmer spent 17 years as a school teacher in Los Angeles and the last eight on the board of education.

"I want to continue the mission that we started. We've seen an incredible rise in graduation rates. We've seen our suspension rates go way down," he said.

He's been seen precinct walking with Congresswoman Maxine Waters. He's also endorsed by L.A. Mayor Eric Garrcetti, Senator Bernie Sanders and the local Democratic Party.

Zimmer said he supports more regulations for charter schools.

"Should charters be accountable to making sure they serve every kid that comes through a school house door?" he asked.

Melvoin is challenging Zimmer.

"I'm running for school board because I know L.A. can do better," Melvoin said. "Only one in two of our students graduate eligible for college."

After graduating from Harvard, he taught in Watts. He'd go on to work for the Obama administration on education issues and now wants to reform L.A. schools.

He's backed by Obama's former education secretary, former Senator Barbara Boxer and former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Outside groups who back charter schools are spending millions on ads pushing for Melvoin's election.

"I refer to myself as school model agnostic. The question should be is every school in L.A. a school we would send our own kids to?" Melvoin shared.

Groups opposed to Melvoin have compared him to President Donald Trump and his education secretary, Betsy Devos, for supporting charters.

Both sides are encouraging everyone to vote on Tuesday.

"There's no more important vote than a vote that concerns your neighborhood public schools," Zimmer said.

Melvoin added, "The foundation of American democracy is a well-educated, civically-engaged public."
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