Crenshaw High School senior Kamarie Brown is the youngest school board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District. She was sworn in for a one-year term on Oct. 6, and according to the district, is the first African American woman to serve in the role.
Brown ran against more than 60 other students for the position, who were each required to fill out an application, write multiple essays, and if selected for the final round, give a speech to LAUSD seniors.
The high school senior tells Inside the Issues she went into the process nervous, but ultimately felt confident in her experience and commitment to her fellow students.
“When I delivered my speech, the passion that I exhibited, I just knew that I had a good chance of winning because you can hear in the cadence of my voice that it’s not just something that looks good on paper,” she said. “It’s something that I’m very passionate about.”
Brown was chosen by seniors from high schools across LAUSD to serve on the board where she now listens to students and presents her thoughts on topics at Board of Education meetings.
“I know the issues students are dealing with during the pandemic are a lot of the same issues people were dealing with before the pandemic, but they’ve only gotten worse, issues such as the levels of social and virtual engagement, and when are we returning back to school and building back that community and culture,” she said. “I think it’s time to close the educational gap across the district.”
As a new member of the school board, she’s focused on two priorities: equity and establishing a Student Bill of Rights.
“When I speak on student equity, it’s just prioritizing schools that need stuff more than other schools,” she said. “Just making sure that every student has a pencil to write with all the way to having a welcoming school to attend.”
Brown notes with COVID-19 cases rising dramatically across L.A. County and no return to schools in sight, she’s dedicated to making remote learning a better platform for educating all students.
“We know the students in low-resource communities will disproportionately lose out, so we must take a broad approach to reimagining remote learning. How do we make that meaningful and enforceable? We have to be intentional about making it accessible and engaging and equitable,” Brown explained.
As a student experiencing online learning firsthand, Brown admits it’s been a struggle to maintain her attention, and she knows she’s not alone.
“A lot of students are having a hard time adapting to it,” she said. “This is totally new to us. Students don’t really know how to adapt or gravitate towards sitting in front of the screen all day. They just don’t have that motivation.”
She says teachers and students alike lack experience working and learning in a virtual environment, so she hopes she can help find solutions when she meets with the board.
So far, Brown has attended two LAUSD board meetings and says it’s been a great learning experience to interact with the other board members and hear each of their different perspectives.
“Me being the youngest on the board, you learn so much,” she said. “I’m in a great position to listen. I’m listening and learning, that’s the main thing I’m doing, so when they ask for my input, I’m right there with data and feedback from the students.”
Let Inside the Issues know your thoughts and watch Monday through Friday at 8 and 11 p.m. on Spectrum News 1.