There are three candidates running this November to represent Trustee Area 2 of the Placentia Yorba-Linda Unified School District. Two of them are long-time residents with histories of community involvement. The third is a political operative with no ties to the community who only moved into Orange County at the beginning of 2019.
Area 2 includes parts of Placentia, Fullerton and Anaheim – the latter consisting of parts of District 5 and 6.
The seat is open and there are three candidates on the ballot: Marilyn Anderson, Joshua Correa and LaShe Rodriguez.
Marilyn Anderson: Long-Time Resident, PTA Mom and Community Volunteer
Placentia-resident Anderson has deep roots in the community. She has lived in her home for 43 years, raising her family there and sending them to the same local public schools that she attended. She has been active in PTA for more than 20 years, and founded Blessing Boxes food pantry.
Anderson told me she really began thinking about running when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“The world kind of turned upside down, and all my thoughts turned to the kids,” she said.
“Kids in my neighborhood are challenged in many ways, said Anderson. “Someone’s got to help them and stand up for them.”
Anderson’s priorities are academic excellence with a focus on the fundamentals, ensuring a learning environment free from physical and emotional bullying, and returning to in-person instruction. Anderson states on her Facebook page:
“Academic excellence is another one of my priorities. Schools should have a balanced curriculum, with an emphasis on the basics especially in reading, language arts and math. Reading is really the key. The National Center for Educational Statistics says, “Research consistently shows strong correlation to reading and academic success at all ages. When my children were attending Ruby Drive Elementary School the reading rates were very low. School staff and parents came together to address this issue. Focusing classroom instruction on reading and planning activities to promote reading became the key goal of the school.”
Anderson also focuses on school safety, and notes she has been endorsed by both the Placentia and Anaheim Police Associations.
“Schools and police need to work closely together to adopt early interventions for students who are having or creating problems in areas related to safety. This is especially important in Area 2 of the school district, where there are five known street gangs,” notes Anderson on her Facebook page:
“GRIP is one of the programs where schools and police partner together to reduce gangs in an area. GRIP stands for “Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention.” Currently, Melrose Elementary is the only school in PYLUSD with a GRIP program. My hope would be to expand this program into other schools in Area 2.”
Anderson is alarmed at the damage that distance learning is doing to students. She described the testimonials from parents, students and teachers at a PYLUSD Board meeting earlier this month:
One of the most heart wrenching themes of the night included worries of mental health including suicide and depression. Personal stories of how children’s personalities have changed, signs of depression, and adverse physical reactions to logging into school each day are just a few of the concerns expressed.
Advocate for our students was a constant plea. Basically, parents and students were begging the school board to stand up for student’s education and to get them back to school as quickly as possible.
Another theme was the negative attitude about distant learning from students. One parent said their child said, “School is a waste of time.” Other concerns were inconsistent internet connection and falling behind in the lesson due to connectivity issues. Many students expressed their hatred to Zoom and the program, “Sucks!”
Teachers expressed concerns on how they were supposed to multi-task keeping students engaged online and in the classroom at the same time. They were as frustrated with the hybrid model as parents and students.
Several students concern included being deprived of their education. Including not getting the needed tools to succeed in school for their AP exams and to be ready for college. One parent expressed the willingness of their student to leave their high school in the middle of their senior year if things didn’t improve quickly. The parent felt like the district was driving away students.
Cheating was another concern brought up. Parents reported that the children are texting test and quiz answers to each other. Also, a parent expressed their child’s fear of returning to school because they were afraid of failing the class because then they would not be able to cheat during tests.
Anderson has no higher political ambitions, and is motivated by a desire to provide vigorous and conscientious representation to parents and their kids.
LaShe Rodriguez, Political Professional From Riverside County
In contrast to Adnerson’s deep community roots, Rodriguez is a Democrat political operative and recent transplant from Riverside County. The 32-year old Rodriguez worked in a succession of campaign and legislative staff positions there and in Los Angeles for the last several years, including for Assemblyman Jose Medina and state Senator Connie Leyva.
Medina is carrying legislation to require public school students to make explicitly political Ethnic Studies a high school graduation requirement. Both Leyva and Medina recently hosted a fundraiser for Rodruguez.
Rodriguez adheres to a progressive-Left edcuation philosophy and is active in the Black Lives Matter political movement.
Rodriguez moved into the Anaheim portion of Area 2 from Riverside at the end of 2018, after the whom she worked candidate, Doug Chafee, was elected Supervisor for the 4th District. She had no previous ties to the area, is single and with no children in PLYUSD schools. In fact she’s never cast a vote in a PLYUSD school board election, since she’s only been registered to vote there since February 2, 2019.
According to sources with first-hand knowledge, Ms. Rodriguez has ambitions to run for the state legislature. Since she has no children in the district and no previous ties to the area (nor even to Orange County), this appears to be a clear-cut case of using the PYLUSD Board of Education as a stepping-stone to higher office – potentially next to Anaheim City Council and on from there to the state Senate or Assembly.
She is part of “Build the Bench“: a county-wide effort by the Democratic Party to elect more partisan Democrats to local non-partisan offices, in order to build a bench of candidates for county, legislative and federal offices – as Rodriguez acknolowdges in this Facebook post:
“I’m working hard to be elected to PYLUSD School Board this November. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in the North Orange County Bench Project, which was created to help Democrats get elected to local office like city council and school boards.”
Rodriguez’ campaign is funded by an array of unions, progressive-Left special interests and advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood and the unions whose contracts she would vote on as a school board member.
Joshua Correa, Preservation Activist
The third candidate is a long-time resident named Joshua Correa (no relation to Rep. Lou Correa). He is a mural artist who has been active in preservation issues related to the historic Placita de Santa Fe. His father is a local pastor.
Correa was active in protesting against an anti-gang injunction against two rival Placentia street gangs in 2015.