LAUSD School Board Candidate: Bibles Are Banned at School Libraries, Explicit Material Is Allowed

Rina Tambor, a mother of three, also thinks budget cuts, undocumented immigrants and discipline issues have “created a recipe for disaster.”
February 15, 2024

Rina Tambor grew frustrated with what she observed at LAUSD: A rapid decline in grades, large class sizes, and a concerning curriculum. California finds itself among the lowest-ranking states in terms of graduation rates, with test results that consistently place among the bottom in the nation. According to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, 58.84% of students didn’t meet the state standards in English and 69.5% didn’t meet the state standards in math. These numbers are true for test results in 2023.

Tambor decided to take action. The former teacher, a mother of three, and a grandmother of three, is running for the school board.

“My motto is honoring the rights of parents and protecting the innocence of children,” said Tambor told the Jewish Journal. “People really need to be aware of what’s happening in the school system. We have large class sizes, making learning very difficult and students are entering colleges unprepared.”

“My motto is honoring the rights of parents and protecting the innocence of children.” – Rina Tambor

According to Tambor several factors have contributed to the current problem. A significant surge of undocumented immigrants has resulted in overcrowded classrooms. Additionally, budget cuts have led to a shortage of teachers. Discipline issues further compound the challenges, and an unconventional curriculum places a disproportionate emphasis on gender issues at the expense of traditional subjects. This combination of factors has created a recipe for disaster.

 “There are undocumented kids who don’t necessarily know the proper behavior in school and are lacking academically, and the median of the class is going down. We have students who are bullying and exhibiting hate. Teachers are facing these problems alone, they don’t have assistants, and it takes them a lot of time to get the kids to listen.”

Tambor knows what it is to come to a new country without knowing the language. She was born in Israel and moved to New York with her family when she was in the fourth grade. “My parents sent me to a school where I could learn English and I was lucky to have an amazing teacher who taught me and gave me confidence.”

“Today, there is a shift in how things are handled,” said Tambor. “Unfortunately, teachers find themselves without the time to devote to each student. In large classes, there is a mix of students encountering challenges due to language barriers or academic struggles, alongside those without academic challenges. Both groups face difficulties as teachers are unable to offer adequate attention, resulting in academic setbacks for the entire class.”

Another issue that Tambor intend to address is special-need students who currently don’t have proper classes. “We have failed our 65,000 special-needs students. Relocating funds will allow the students to reach their potentials so they could be part of the solution and flourishing society.”

Tambor said that budget isn’t the problem. “LAUSD has a budget of $30 billion. It’s a wonder that with this kind of budget, LAUSD schools don’t have enough classes and teachers. It’s unclear how this money is being allocated.”

“They also can’t manage to have a police presence in schools and we are dealing with bullying and an unsafe environment in schools. Now there is a talk about arming teachers with guns in certain schools for the security of the classroom. Teachers will need to act both as educators and police officers. It’s unheard of. Subjects that were once part of the curriculum, such as music or art, were replaced by gender issue classes. Schools stopped offering home economics and Creative Arts, which used to be very popular. Kids who were not strong academically, it gave them vocation to study something else, like woodworking or sewing. We don’t have music anymore and it has been fundamentally proven to be healthy for children’s mentality and achievement.”

 “When I speak to friends in the Jewish community, they tell me: ‘Oh, my kids are going to private schools.’ They believe that they don’t have to deal with this. Private school kids are in a bubble; they are sheltered, but eventually, they are still involved with public school kids. They need to interact with them in afterschool activities, in higher education, via mobile communication, etc. We need to prepare all our kids so they can be respectful and accepting of everyone.”

Tambor said that her mission is to ensure that parents’ voices are honored and heard. “I want to advocate for parents’ representation on decision making, being informed, and empowering them to play an active role.”

The frustration that Tambor feels is shared by many parents of students at LAUSD and California overall. One of the issues that had been troubling many parents is “Sex and gender education.” Policymakers believe the state, not parents, holds authority over children when it comes to sex and gender issues — but parents disagree. Children as young as five in kindergartens are learning about gender identity, using LGBTQ inclusive language. One of the questions teachers ask at the beginning of the school year is: “What’s your pronoun?”

There are some books that parents feel are too explicit and graphic for their children to read, such as: “S.E.X: The all you need to know sexuality guide to get you through your teens and twenties.” However, this book as well as others with sexual content is available to all students in school libraries, said Tambor. “Ironically, the Bible is not allowed at many school libraries or at least was pulled out of bookshelves in recent years. Students though, are allowed to bring a Bible to school and read it.”

One case that demonstrates how the schools take control over the delicate subject of  gender identity happened in the Spreckels Union School District, around 60 miles south east of San Francisco. A mother sued her school district after her 11 year-old daughter was “socially transitioned” into a trans boy, without her knowledge.  Upset after her grandfather died, Jessica Konen’s daughter Alicia, talked to her teacher and counselor and said that maybe it would be easier if she was a boy because boys don’t cry and are stronger. The mother who found out about her daughter’s transitioning weeks after it happened, sued the school and won $100,000. This story as well as many others, sparked anger among parents who are left in the dark about something so pivotal in their child’s life.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think,” Tambor said, quoting Margaret Mead.  “Let our children experience being children, to learn to read and write, learn to express themselves through language, arts and sports.”

This is a sentiment shared by many parents. Those who can afford it, send their children to private schools, others are opting for home schooling but the majority feel they don’t have a choice but to send their children to public schools.

Tambor used to be a teacher in New York City before moving to Los Angeles in 2001, just before 9/11. She also worked in sleepaway camps in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and the Washington, D.C. area. “I had over 800 campers and over 200 staff members under me.”

Those were different times, when parents fully trusted the teachers and school system. Now, there is a sense of suspicion and discomfort by what’s going on behind the schools’ doors. Tambor said she wants to change that. “I think it’s really urgent that we speak up for the kids and the parents.”

Primary elections are on March 5th, with early voting already in progress.

To find out more, visit Rina4schoolboard.com.

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