The best ideas come from the people working in our schools and communities

Elmer G. Roldan

Director of Education Programs and Policy, United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Elmer RoldanWe believe in investing in educators because United Way of Greater Los Angeles (United Way) recognizes that a high-quality education starts in the classroom and is supported by those in the school community. Our mission is to permanently break the cycle of poverty. We believe that educators play a critical role in that endeavor.

We are inspired by Educators for Excellence because United Way believes that the best ideas come from people on the ground, working in our schools and communities. E4E-Los Angeles embodies that philosophy and uplifts educators who are wholly committed to their students, parents, schools and communities. E4E-Los Angeles works with educators to produce common sense policy recommendations that recognize everyone must take responsibility for improving the quality of education in Los Angeles. To that end, they call on district officials and school leaders to treat the teaching profession with greater dignity and respect and to include teachers in the decisions that affect their profession. They also call on teachers to put forth solutions that will result in the greatest academic outcomes for students of color and those living in poverty.

Our support of E4E has provided for activities and support such as enabling teachers to learn about education policy issues, become part of a movement of teachers, cultivate their leadership, and advocate for policy reforms. These efforts have included creating research-based and teacher-generated policy recommendations that: 1) encourage teacher compensation as a stronger lever for attracting and retaining top talent and 2) provide tactics for implementing Los Angeles School District’s (LAUSD) School Climate Bill of Rights. In addition, E4E-Los Angeles has worked in partnership with local and statewide coalitions to educate stakeholders and promote their priorities for improving how California funds schools, particularly those serving communities in poverty.

We provide additional support to a district-wide coalition of over 50 organizations, including E4E, which represents 150,000 stakeholders that collaborate on policy and advocacy efforts to close the equity gap in LAUSD.

Something most people don’t know about me is I am a product of LAUSD schools and a parent of a tenth-grader attending a school in the district.

A teacher who had a great impact on me was Mr. Arias, who was my fifth grade teacher at Martin Luther King Elementary, a school in a tough neighborhood in South Los Angeles. He talked my mom into not letting me hang out with my best friend at the time. Mr. Arias told my mom that I had great potential, but my friend was influencing me to stray from my studies and walk down the “wrong path.” I hated Mr. Arias for butting into my life in that way and resented him for many years, but I later realized that Mr. Arias was looking out for my best interest and that he cared enough to intervene. I believe in supporting teachers that do their best to impact as many students as possible. Mr. Arias embodies the work of E4E-Los Angeles and all other great educators who work to build the next generation of citizens and break the cycle of poverty in this city.