Steve Zimmer was elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education in 2009 after seventeen years as a teacher and counselor at Marshall High School in Los Angeles. Steve began his career in 1992 as part of Teach For America, the national non-profit dedicated to educational equity. Access and equity for all students has remained his guiding principle. Steve has always stressed innovation that invites students into the learning process. When he taught English as a second language at Marshall, Steve used an experiential approach that related to his students’ daily lives. He created Marshall’s Public Service Program to make public service intrinsic to the student experience. Marshall’s Multilingual Teacher Career Academy, which Steve founded in 1998, served as an early model for LAUSD’s Career Ladder Teacher Academy.
Steve, along with Superintendent Ramon Cortines, originated Student Recovery Day, a twice-yearly event that takes scores of district staff into the streets surrounding schools in search of students who have dropped out. Hundreds of students have returned to class after being sought out and connected with the support services they need. Another of Steve’s missions has been identifying revenue sources for the cash-strapped school district, traveling to Sacramento and Washington DC to speak with elected officials. He pressed relentlessly for the Education Jobs Bill that passed after a long fight, yielding $10 billion for state education systems. He continues to champion policies that protect the most at-risk schools against the worst effects of recent devastating budget cuts.
Steve is a passionate advocate for at-risk youth and played a pivotal role in establishing school-community initiatives to support and stabilize families. The Comprehensive Student Support Center he founded with another Marshall teacher provides health care services for students and their families. He helped create the Elysian Valley Community Services Center, a community owned-and-operated agency that provides after-school, recreational and enrichment programs, a library, and free internet access.
As a member of the LA school board, Steve has continued advocating for vulnerable students. He authored the school board resolution in support of the Dream Act, federal legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented students who do well in school and attend college. Steve also led the way on a resolution to make the District a hunger-free community by exploring new strategies to increase children’s participation in school meal programs and easily connect them with other agencies that provide food resources for hungry families.
Steve has received numerous awards for his work with children and families. In 1998, LA’s Commission of Children, Youth and their Families presented him with the Angels over Los Angeles Award. Steve received the Carino Award from El Centro Del Pueblo the following year. In 2003, he was honored by the LACER Foundation with the Jackie Goldberg Public Service Award. A graduate of Goucher College in Baltimore, Steve has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumni.