Alum declares candidacy for LAUSD board

Sammi Handler

Attorney and public education advocate Nick Melvoin ’04 has declared his candidacy for a seat in the 2017 Los Angeles Unified School Board to “ensure that every student in Los Angeles has the opportunity to succeed,” according to his website.

Melvoin lives in Brentwood and has entered into the District 4 race, in which he could potentially be running against the current LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer. Melvoin was the first candidate to enter the race for the elections, which take place in March 2017.

He told LA School Report that he wanted to enter the race early to gain support for his new vision for LAUSD, which includes learning from charter and magnet schools how to give teachers room to be more innovative.

After graduating from Harvard-Westlake, Melvoin completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, earned a Master’s in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University and was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar at New York University School of Law.

While working towards his Master’s degree, Melvoin, a former Chronicle editor, taught at Edwin Markham Middle School in South Central Los Angeles through Teach for America, where he taught English as a second language, coached soccer and baseball and helped students launch a school newspaper.

In 2010, Melvoin said Markham lost more than half of its teachers to LAUSD layoffs, and he was one of them. He worked without benefits as a substitute teacher until the district rehired him and joined the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, which argued and won the case that the layoffs violated the rights of students.

After civil rights attorneys filed the case, Melvoin detailed the problems he saw at Markham in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times.

“Even in classrooms where teachers have now been hired permanently, students are desperately far behind,” Melvoin wrote.” While eighth-grade history students throughout the city and state were studying the Civil War, students in some classes at Markham had barely gotten to the Articles of Confederation. Some newly hired teachers have been instructed to catch up by simply skipping important eras of U.S. history, which makes it likely that their students will perform poorly on state tests.”

Melvoin also serves as programming director at Camp Harmony, a summer camp for children living in shelters in the Greater Los Angeles Area, where he has volunteered since his sophomore year of high school. He is also an adjunct professor at LMU and consults for nonprofits.