By Ruby Bolaria
UCLA Luskin Student Writer
Antonio Sanchez graduated with a masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in 2012 and is considered an anomaly in his neighborhood.
Sanchez emigrated to the U.S from Mexico when he was six years old. He went to high school in the San Fernando Valley where only 700 of the 1,200 students made it to senior year. He went to college, graduate school and is now running for California’s 6th District Representative for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Unfortunately, Sanchez is the exception not the rule.
Sanchez wants everyone to have the opportunity to go to a four-year college, vocational school and be able to enter the work force with college level reading and writing skills.
He wants to tackle the high school dropout rate, advocate for more resources in the classroom and hold Sacramento accountable. To help support his campaign, Sanchez is holding a fundraiser at Plancha Tacos in Los Angeles on Saturday starting at 7 p.m. Find out more details here.
Sanchez helped pass Proposition 30, which ensured more funding for public schools including universities.
“The biggest concern I heard from voters was if the money would actually go to education," said Sanchez, who is campaigning through Facebook. "I want to make sure we get our fair share. Voters asked to be taxed for this and it’s only fair Sacramento follows through. I’ll make sure they do.”
Before returning to UCLA for his masters degree, Sanchez worked for eight years in policy including with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. When asked why he chose to pursue a masters in Urban Planning instead of Education or Public Policy, he stressed the importance of building strong communities.
“Strong communities make things better," he said. "I worked in civic engagement to empower constituents and so I saw urban planning as a more holistic approach to better communities. Improving our school system is a community effort and benefits everyone.”
As a UCLA student, Sanchez said he advanced his consensus building skills to help facilitate a more participatory process that fostered cooperation. According to Sanchez, these skills make him the most qualified to unite various stake holders in LAUSD.
Conflict is heated among the LAUSD stake holders, which include teachers unions, parents and school boards. Sanchez is supported by various groups including Service Employee International Union and the L.A. County Democratic Party.
Labor support runs strong in the Sanchez family. His father was a bus driver and union member with the LA Metro (MTA). Sanchez credits the union for providing a livable wage, healthcare and allowing his father to retire with dignity and not into poverty.
Sanchez also said he supports parents and emphasized the need for more collaboration through things such as a welcoming Parent Center on campuses to allow parents to advocate for the students.
Throughout all the endorsements he says, “Students always come first. I tell everyone that students are first.”
Sanchez has a vision of creating a more equitable environment to ensure everyone has the same opportunities to succeed.
“It shouldn’t be amazing that I went to college and graduate school but it was because of my neighborhood," he said. "We need to make a stronger community with more equity and it starts with our schools.”