Beverly Hills resident Janessa LaVoice has announced her candidacy for the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education in the upcoming November 2022 election, looking to fill one of two open seats. LaVoice previously worked with children with special needs for 14 years as an Applied Behavioral Analysis tutor at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, and now works at an escrow company. She was raised in Orange County and has lived in Beverly Hills for a year. She is a first-time candidate and is currently running against Farrah Dodes, Judy Manouchehri, Dr. Michal Amir-Salkin and incumbent Rachelle Marcus.
“I really, truly believe that I am well equipped to navigate the intricate, complicated and diverse landscape of the Beverly Hills Unified School District,” LaVoice told the Courier. “My goal really is to deliver positive results to my community and provide children with a quality education that I think they deserve.”
LaVoice’s platform includes an emphasis on results-oriented math reform, and she said that Beverly Hills students’ current average math proficiency level of 67% is unacceptable. As a former professional ballerina, she is also interested in increasing the variety of art classes available to students. LaVoice is outspoken about improving what she sees as a lack of quality in history education. She pointed to a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation study from 2019 that found only 15% of Americans surveyed knew what year the U.S. Constitution was written.
“Another example, which I think is even more disturbing for Beverly Hills residents, is that in 2020 a nationwide survey revealed the lack of basic Holocaust knowledge,” LaVoice said. “Seventy percent of residents in Beverly Hills are Jewish and I think it’s very important that our students understand their own history.”
Another key component of LaVoice’s campaign is her overt opposition to the Critical Race Theory (CRT) program that California approved statewide in March 2021. None of her opponents have taken any stance on the issue. CRT is an ethnic studies curriculum that the California School Board Association has stated “emphasizes race as a social construct with social significance, not a biological reality. It acknowledges that racism is embedded within systems and institutions that replicate racial inequality.”
According to the California School Board Association, more than 20 state legislatures have introduced bills to limit or ban education on topics of racial issues and episodes in U.S. history. LaVoice said that she feels CRT programs politicize schools and has stated on her website that they subject children to psychological child abuse.
“I fully support teaching students about our past and our present in a truthful manner, even if that truth is not a pleasant one,” LaVoice said. “What I do not support is the idea of a child being inherently racist or victimized by racism.”
LaVoice is running under the slogan “No Child Left Behind,” which comes from the name of a National Blue Ribbons School program. The seats open are those of Marcus and of Gabriel Halimi, who was appointed last year after the resignation of Tristen Walker-Shuman. Both of their terms will expire this December.