Steve Barr (educator)

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Steve Barr
Candidate for
Mayor of Los Angeles
Personal details
Born 1959 (age 57–58)
Citizenship American
Spouse(s) Teresa Wierzbianska
Residence Los Angeles, California
Education University of California, Santa Barbara
Occupation Educator
Known for Green Dot Public Schools (founder)
Rock the Vote (co-founder)
Future is Now (founder)

Steve Barr (born 1959) is an educator, activist, and author best known as a co-founder of Rock the Vote and founder of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school organization in Los Angeles, California. Barr is also the founder of Future is Now Schools, a non-profit school organization that works on reforming schools from within.

On June 27, 2016, Steve Barr announced his candidacy for the 2017 Los Angeles mayoral election, challenging incumbent mayor Eric Garcetti.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Steve Barr was born in San Mateo, California in 1959.[3] His father left the family when Barr was two years old.[4] Barr and his younger brother were raised by a single mother.[5][6] Barr spent his early childhood in Monterey, California where his mother worked as a dental assistant and as a cocktail waitress. At the age of six, Barr and his younger brother were placed in foster care for a year.[3] In 1973, Barr's family moved to Cupertino, California where he and his brother attended Cupertino High School.[4] At Cupertino High, Barr played on the basketball team and was elected student body president.[7]

Barr attended community college and later transferred to University of California, Santa Barbara, where he graduated with a degree in political science.[8] During his college years, Barr joined the Teamsters and worked as a truck loader at United Parcel Service.[6] It was during this time that Barr became more politically active, founding the UCSB chapter of College Democrats and interning for then-governor Jerry Brown.[9]

Professional life[edit]

Political activism[edit]

After receiving his degree, Barr was hired to organize events for the 1984 Summer Olympics Torch Relay, a period of his life he recounts in his book The Flame: An Unlikely Patriot Finds a Country to Love.[8] That year, he joined the national staff of then-Senator Gary Hart's presidential campaign.[8] In 1988, he worked for Governor Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign.[10] During this time, Barr also served as the finance chairman for the California Democratic Party.[11]

In 1990, Barr a co-founded Rock the Vote, a national campaign to boost youth voter turnout and engage young people in the democratic process.[6]

Green Dot Public Schools[edit]

Barr met education-activist and founder of Netflix Reed Hastings and Don Shalvey, the founder of California's first charter school, the San Carlos Learning Center, in Northern California. At an event in 1997, President Bill Clinton announced a federally funded public charter school-grant program. As a result, Barr founded his flagship organization Green Dot Public Schools and opened his first charter high school, Animo Leadership High School in Lennox, CA in 2000. He later opened subsequent schools including Animo Inglewood in 2002 and Animo Oscar de la Hoya in Boyle Heights in 2004. By the end of Barr's involvement at Green Dot, he had 20 high schools under his auspice. Barr left Green Dot in 2009.

Campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles[edit]

On June 27, 2016, Steve Barr announced his candidacy for the 2017 Los Angeles mayoral election, challenging incumbent mayor Eric Garcetti.[1][2] On his campaign's website, Barr writes:

I'm running for mayor of Los Angeles to disrupt the political establishment and turn our city around. Together, we're building a grassroots movement to transform L.A.'s schools, end the homelessness and affordability crisis, and fight for a city where every family can thrive.

— Steve Barr, Campaign website, June 27, 2016 [2][12]


  1. ^ a b Jamison, Peter; Blume, Howard (June 27, 2016). "Charter school founder Steve Barr to challenge Garcetti in 2017". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 29, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Roderick, Kevin (June 27, 2016). "Steve Barr says he's in for run against Garcetti". LA Observed. Retrieved June 29, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b McGray, Douglas (May 11, 2009). "The Instigator". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Bermudez, Caroline (April 5, 2016). "Post navigation Steve Barr on weighing a mayoral run and what education reform is getting wrong". LA School Report. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  5. ^ Lewis, Judith (December 6, 2006). "The Secret of His Success". LA Weekly. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c Maxwell, Lesli A. (November 6, 2006). "Charter School Activist Gains New Influence in L.A.". Education Week. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  7. ^ Merl, Jean (October 10, 2005). "Charter School Crusader Makes Waves in L.A.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Sanchez, Claudio (December 17, 2007). "Private Takeover of L.A. Schools Gets Results". NPR. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  9. ^ Weinstein, Steve (August 27, 1994). "'Call' to Turn On, Tune In and Speak Up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  10. ^ Sand, Larry (November 20, 2009). "We're All Right-Wing Bastards Now". City Journal. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  11. ^ Teixeira, Steve (September 2005). "Takeover Vultures Stalk L.A.'s Jefferson High". People's Tribune. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Steve Barr for Mayor". Campaign website. June 27, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016. 

External links[edit]