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Dear Editor – United Parents of Culver City

Dear Editor –

We are announcing UNITED PARENTS OF CULVER CITY!
the first-ever, district-wide, democratically elected policy and political group for Culver City parents!

Please join us for our kick-off event on Thursday May 24, 7-9 pm.
Come meet the founding members of United Parents of Culver City. Get to know your new student advocacy group for Culver City parents, and get involved!

Parents of Culver City are working together like never before, across ALL schools, to increase the role of parents in education policy. We strive to be effective parent leaders who join together in a unified voice.

What: United Parents of Culver City Kick-off event
Date: Thursday, May 24th
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Location: Private Residence, 4443 S. Purdue Ave., Culver City, CA 90230
Website: www.UnitedParentsCulverCity.com
RSVP: unitedparentsculvercity.com/join-us/

…. WHY UNITED PARENTS OF CULVER CITY?
While PTA and booster clubs do great jobs, they are limited by internal rules from certain types of advocacy. We need a permanent organization- the United Parents of Culver City (UPCC)– that raises awareness of the issues facing our schools… and then raises and spends money to elect the best leaders for leadership in our district and our city. Parents– through UPCC’s political action committee aka PAC– need to shape school board elections to keep politicians away. And, we need to work together to let each other know the best practices and ideas from our own school sites so we can all benefit from the best of CCUSD. Finally, UPCC and its PAC will ensure that Culver City’s leaders and council members make our city the best possible one for families and kids.

…THE ISSUE THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER
The school board remains paralyzed by what should be an easy issue: supporting parents rights to support and fund our school programs that the District does not provide and in many cases has never provided. For many of us, a great part of the 2011-2012 school year has been spent writing letters, lending our names to the Parents Have Rights Petition (1, 177 signers!), attending school board meetings and advocating for these rights. Due to inaction and “political” considerations — the majority of our school board let this issue devolve into a mess.

While parts of the issue have begun to be hammered out, the status of our booster clubs and parent groups remain unresolved. We have joined together because we realized that no matter which school our children attend, our issues and concerns remain the same.

….WHAT PARENTS FINALLY LEARNED
Some members of this school board are having a hard time understanding and advocating for parent volunteer groups. Prior school boards failed to spend taxpayer authorized bond money to benefit students in a timely manner. It’s clear that we need our own organization to advocate for our views and the interests of our children. We are stronger together. Click here for issues that are important to us

….THIS IS WHAT PARENT EMPOWERMENT LOOKS LIKE
United Parents of Culver City members (YOU!) at each Culver City school will select parent members to represent them. Click here to read about our structure

…. OUR LEADERSHIP
Our elections will be held annually starting January, 2013. Until then, UPCC’s interim president is Steve Levin from Farragut. The interim president of its PAC is Scott Kecken from La Ballona. Certain interim leadership positions are still available. Click here to read about our founding members

We hope that you’ll check out United Parents of Culver City and be an even more effective leader in your child’s education. Please feel free to contact us and ask any questions. We hope to see you on Thursday, May 24 at 7 pm! This is exciting!

Sincerely,

Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin, Scott McVarish, Steve Levin, Scott Kecken, Paul Blechner, Anne Burke, Dan O’Brien, Bryan Tjomsland, Tom Crunk, and Jenny Manriquez, Beverly O’Brien

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Reader Feedback

39 Responses to “Dear Editor – United Parents of Culver City”

  1. Susan Frank says:

    The formation of this group is so sad in many ways. I think it is highly unlikely that you will have an impact on the school district and/or the city council. I would prefer to use my limited time and resources directly in/for the schools.

    Your behavior is what caused the “mess”; you listened to and spread rumors rather than sit down and listen to facts. I did research and found out that school districts are obligated to follow specific Department of Education, IRS and Department of Justice rules and regulations related to school-connected organizations.

    The issues you raise have nothing to do with internal advocacy, but rather adherence to the laws. Some school board members knew this; others are just finding out what they should have known.

    I would like to plead with community members to give money to our schools, not to a self-serving group of parents whose main founders are El Marino parents (and ALLEM board members).

  2. Mack E. Aveli says:

    Dear Editor,

    I applaud the letter from Susan Frank. As a school administrator, I know the danger of parents uniting together. We need more discordant and divisive voices like Susan’s if we are to preserve the formula of success in a school district. This potion of excellence is made of three parts. First, a recognition that the administrators are the professionals and the parents are amateurs. After all, parents usually only have one or two kids, administrators have thousands. We truly know better what’s best for their children. Second, we need professional politicians on our school board, the type that Susan supports. These politicians preferably will not have children in the district, or if they did, these children will have long since matriculated. In that way, the decisions the politicians make are more neutral towards children, and more focused on the professional politicians’ own goals. That’s how democracy works – – the accumulated self-interest of politicians will always produce the best results. Third, we need parents– like Susan– who are not involved in efforts to make the schools better to boldly attack those parents who actually are involved. Susan is not weighed down by actually working with other parents, so her vision is unclouded by “the common good.”

    With this formula and supporters like Susan, our concoction of award-winning administration will continue to empower administrators and politicians. And the students will enjoy the trickle-down.

    M.E. Aveli

  3. Judith says:

    Dear Readers,
    While we have a policy of posting comments from real people, Mr. Aveli will be allowed the use of the venue as an exception. Satire is a classic tradition, and can often be used to get people to think.

    And it made me laugh, and I like that.

    Il Princepessa

  4. Bryan Frank says:

    The formation of UPCC is very exciting to everyone I’ve spoken to, but I agree with Susan, it would be a sad if UPCC is unable to have an impact on the school district. However, I think that is highly unlikely. Call me an optimist, but whenever parents organize for a purpose in Culver City schools, wonderful things happen.
    I applaud Susan’s donations of time and energy in ways she feels most effective. Similarly, parents who understand how school boards and city governments operate will conclude that an organization mobilized to advocate for students in the political arena can be very effective. Those parents will choose to support UPCC and hopefully help define that voice.
    I also agree that in the beginning of the parent funded positions discussion, facts were hard to come by. This was largely because the district lacked a clear policy and was not dealing with parents openly. Fortunately, because of concerned parent’s actions, that policy is now being formed in the public view and not simply at the will of special interests.
    Regarding law, which is somewhat subjective here, it has and will be obeyed. The district has latitude in how parent funded positions can be supported and expanded going forward. I hope Susan will join us in this effort. Otherwise her comment is vague. If your legal research has yielded specifics, I hope you will share them.
    As for UPCC membership, it already includes parents from every school in the district. I think the community will conclude that supporting it and our schools is not mutually exclusive. And again, I agree with Susan, when I serve Culver City kids I feel as though I am serving myself.

  5. Susan Frank says:

    Judith,

    I assume you know that “Mack E. Aveli” is a pseudonym for Machiavelli. Satire only works when it is the truth, and since the fake author is not telling the truth, it isn’t funny.
    The only humor I see in the response to my post is that a real person didn’t bother to write it.

    I am a very involved parent in Culver City who has worked tirelessly with other parents on a variety of issues. I have also spent hundreds of hours doing research (at no one’s request) on nonprofit organizations, school boards, school districts, state and federal regulations, etc. I have shared that information with others to help them make the right decisions.

    Mack E. Aveli is not worthy of holding Machiavelli’s pen.

  6. laurin says:

    Yeah, satire… except that Susan never said any of the things she’s accused of, and she’s being accused of being uninvolved in our schools – far from the truth. Truly engaging satire should snark about the facts. Susan’s point – laws are laws.

  7. Christine Ferreira says:

    Personally I think that it’s good for parents from the schools to be in communication. I don’t understand the issue of “professional politicians” for the United Parents of Culver City. It makes me wonder whether UPCC’s actual agenda is to ensure that one or more of our current school board members is not re-elected. I hope that UPCC’s agendas and information will be readily available to parents throughout the district, perhaps posted on the internet for all to see. That way the parents of children in the district will know what is being said on our behalf.

  8. Susan Frank says:

    1. Laurin–Thank you.

    2. Christine–You are very saavy; I had the very same thought about UPCC’s agenda.

    3. Bryan–You sound like the same person who posed as Mack E. Aveli, but without the satire. I find it suspicious that you have my same last name and that I found no trace of Bryan Frank in Culver City.

  9. Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin says:

    Happily, The United Parents of Culver City website has a growing list of the names of supporters from all over Culver City, representing all schools. I encourage all members of our community to come to the kick-off event and join us in uniting parents and advocating for all students across Culver City.

  10. Susan Frank says:

    Is it a coincidence that the organization called Students First (StudentsFirst.org) has emailed parents and community members in Culver City about its upcoming activities in the Los Angeles area? Students First was founded by Michelle Rhee, a very controversial figure who believes in school voucher programs and charter schools; she is also anti-union. For more information, please read the following articles.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/03/29/michelle-rhees-cheating-scandal-diane-ravitch-blasts-education-reform-star.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/education/22winerip.html?pagewanted=all

  11. Paul Blechner says:

    Susan, I have attended every UPCC organizational meeting and have never once heard any mention of Michelle Rhee or her organization. I don’t know her or take any opinion on her or what she’s advocating, but would be very clear that this Response #10 simply has no relevance to this letter to the editor about UPCC.

    More generally, I can’t think of any reason that any CC parents’ group would have any general objection to UPCC. Fair enough if anyone’s time and/or resources are already committed (or over-committed as the case may be) to other organizations and causes in our community, but I would suggest to any overextended group that they should see this as something to welcome and an opportunity to form an alliance and join forces.

    It would be wrong and unfortunate if anyone reading these comments ended up confused or misled by any of the misstatements or innuendo Susan has posted above. The kickoff meeting is next Thursday (5/24). There is already a broad base of interest and support from parents across the District. If anyone has questions, track one of us down, submit them on the website, and/or come to the meeting. This is exciting.

    Paul

  12. Liz says:

    I’m never impressed with pseudonyms, and I find “Mr. Aveli” (and yes, I “get it”) to be sarcastic, not particularly satirical. This is not helpful.

    Wouldn’t it be better to make an intelligent, informed statement of fact and opinion, rather than a feeble attempt at cleverness with no substantial contribution to the discussion?

  13. Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin says:

    United Parents of Culver City is an independent organization, home-grown in Culver City, not affiliated with other parent organizations. Once again, UPCC is founded by parents from Farragut, La Ballona, El Rincon, El Marino, Linwood E. Howe, Culver City Middle School, Culver City High School, and more.

    Please visit the website and read the testimonials. Many of the answers to any questions may be located on the website (which is still in progress).

  14. Susan Frank says:

    Mr. Blechner,

    I want to clarify that Students First is holding two meetings in Los Angeles on May 24; in fact, one of its meetings is from 6:00-8:00 p.m., the same time as the kick-off meeting for UPCC. That is why I asked if it was a coincidence.

    Students First is involved in political activities; based on what I have read about UPCC on its website, I am concerned that its real purpose is to get people elected to school board and city council positions who only agree with its positions. When I hear the word PAC (Political Action Committee), it makes me nervous because it is all about money and influence, a very destructive force in this country and, more recently, in this city.

    UPCC’s kick-off meeting is May 24, and yet you state that you have attended “every UPCC organizational meeting.” The process does not sound very democractic.

  15. Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin says:

    Hi Susan, the group cannot form itself, lol. Parents from all schools have been meeting to get UPCC started. May 24th is an open invitation to introduce UPCC to all parents and community members across Culver City and to invite them to join and participate and become leaders in the organization. One of UPCC’s goals is to help provide a means for parents from all schools to come together, without divisiveness or name-calling (see comment #1).

  16. Susan Frank says:

    Jeannine,

    With all due respect, I became involved in this issue because of the divisiveness, misinformation, name-calling and cruelty I witnessed in the name of ALLEM. The perpetrators of this behavior will not change their stripes just because they form an organization. I prefer the company of informed, open-minded and compassionate individuals.

    Unfortunately, I believe that UPCC has ulterior motives that will be harmful to the school district and the community.

  17. Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin says:

    To parents of Culver City, I hope to see you at the meeting on the 24th.

    Your neighbor, Jeannine

  18. Jane says:

    Parents coming together to support our schools – who’s not in favor of that? But the part of this article that disturbs me is the call to “shape school board elections” to combat those nefarious “politicians” who don’t have the kids’ best interests at heart. Whom, exactly, would that be? And as for the belief that any one organization can represent all parent views. If you’ve attended recent board meetings, you’ll know there are parents, community members, and school board members on both sides of the adjunct/booster club issue, the solar panels project issue, and the capital projects funding and approval issue.

  19. Susan Frank says:

    Mr. Blechner,

    Are you really being honest about what you know. I just visited UPCC’s Facebook page, and I quote:

    “Parents and the Community United for a “STUDENTS FIRST” District.

    “United Parents of Culver City (UPCC) gives parents a voice in the POLITICAL process in order to positively impact the lives of Culver City families. We promote an educational culture that places the interests of students before those of adults. UPCC’s Political Action Committee (PAC) organizes the FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL POWER of parents to support candidates and issues that promote a STUDENT-FIRST agenda in our city and school district.”

    UPCC wants to influence elections in Culver City the same way ALLEM tried to influence the outcome of the City Council race!

  20. Patrick Meighan says:

    “Students First is involved in political activities; based on what I have read about UPCC on its website, I am concerned that its real purpose is to get people elected to school board and city council positions who only agree with its positions… UPCC wants to influence elections in Culver City the same way ALLEM tried to influence the outcome of the City Council race!”

    Susan, congratulations, you’ve described participatory democracy: citizens of like minds organizing with the intent to persuade others within their community and to influence the decisions made in their name, by their elected representatives, with their tax dollars.

    Can someone explain why a group of concerned, active citizens in a democracy should *not* seek to “get people elected to school board and city council positions who only agree with its positions”? I mean, isn’t that exactly the way this democracy thing is *supposed* to work?

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA (and a Lin Howe Parent)

  21. Susan Frank says:

    Mr. Meighan,

    Your idea of democracy is cynical and sinister. Thank you for revealing the truth about UPCC.

  22. Paul Blechner says:

    Yes, Ms. Frank, I’m being honest.

    We look forward to seeing everyone on May 24.

    Paul

  23. Patrick Meighan says:

    “Your idea of democracy is cynical and sinister. Thank you for revealing the truth about UPCC.”

    The idea of citizens organizing to collectively petition their representatives is neither cynical nor sinister. And when organized citizens work to elect representatives whose priorities match their own, that’s not cynical or sinister either. It’s exactly what democracy is. Perhaps your problem is with democracy.

    And, fwiw, I have no involvement whatsoever with UPCC, and had never even heard of it until reading this very article. So I’m incapable of “reveal(ing)” any “truth about UPCC” to you. You know as much about it as I do. Probably more.

    That said, I may very well show up on May 24th to learn something about UPCC. Maybe I’ll see you there?

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA (and a Lin Howe parent)

  24. Susan Frank says:

    Well, Mr. Meighan, I am going to assume that someone who is willing to Occupy LA (and get arrested), is smart enough to find out the truth on his own. I may be wrong, but I am also going to assume you are a union member as a writer for “Family Guy.” In fact, when I read that you were pro-Occupy, I was surprised you were the same author of several comments I read.

    Seriously, doesn’t Poltical Action Committee (PAC) make your blood boil when you hear that the Koch brothers give gobs of money to make sure that the 1% stay in power? UPCC is asking for donations for their PAC.

  25. Patrick Meighan says:

    Susan,

    Yes, I got arrested at Occupy, and as a writer on “Family Guy” I am indeed a proud member of the WGA. The WGA, incidentally, has a PAC (I don’t happen to contribute to it at present).

    What makes my blood boil is not PACs, per se, but the disproportionate economic, political and legal power hoarded by very wealthy individuals and corporations, and the damage that inequality is doing to our republic. Is UPCC a front for a tiny number of rent-seeking billionaires and regulation-dodging corporations? If so, I’ll join you at the anti-UPCC barricades! So far, though, they just look to me like a group of concerned local citizens banding together to make their voices heard on local educational issues.

    I supposed I’ll learn more, though, on May 24th. See you there?

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA (and a Linwood Howe parent)

  26. Susan Frank says:

    Patrick,

    How can UPCC—which was formed by people originally only interested in one issue—possibly know what is best for the approximately 6500 children in our school district?

    Do you really believe, in your heart of hearts, that this group is capable of understanding and representing the needs of the economically disadvantaged (not a small pertcentage in our district)?

    Students First has enormous financial and political backing, and if UPCC is affiliated with them, enough said.

    In any case, UPCC just updated their website with a “members-only” link, which begs the question: What do they have to hide?

    Susan Frank
    Culver City, CA (and a Culver City High parent)

  27. Patrick Meighan says:

    Susan,

    I don’t know the answers to any of your questions, because I don’t personally know anything about UPCC yet. That’s why it’s worth attending this meeting to find out. But I’ve got no reason to believe that a PAC created by Culver City parents would be any less capable of understanding the needs of Culver City’s economically disadvantaged students than would be a PAC created by Culver City teachers or Culver City classified employees (two other entities with PACs which contribute to Culver City School Board elections, to your evident approval). Why is it okay for the two latter groups to use their collective resources for the express purpose of influencing our school board elections, but not for Culver City parents to do the exact same thing?

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA (and a Lin Howe parent)

  28. Susan Frank says:

    Patrick,

    I have no knowledge of PACs connected with either the teachers’ or classified employees’ unions in our school district; therefore, your accusation that I have “evident approval” is false. The unions endorse candidates based on their interviews and/or experience with them, but that does not mean they provide “resources” to influence the outcome of the elections.

    You say you have no knowledge of UPCC, but you endorse the idea that it is okay for parents to to raise money for the “express purose of influencing our school board elections.”

    Your comments are very revealing and the reason I would never even consider joining UPCC. I would prefer to use my resources for the economically disadvantaged.

  29. Patrick Meighan says:

    “I have no knowledge of PACs connected with either the teachers’ or classified employees’ unions in our school district; therefore, your accusation that I have “evident approval” is false. The unions endorse candidates based on their interviews and/or experience with them, but that does not mean they provide “resources” to influence the outcome of the elections.”

    You believe that the above-mentioned unions make no contributions whatsoever to their favored candidates? None?

    “Your comments are very revealing and the reason I would never even consider joining UPCC. I would prefer to use my resources for the economically disadvantaged.”

    One of the things that’s awesome about America is that you’re free to make that choice, and other Culver City parents are free to use their resources advocating for the rights of CCUSD’s students. Yay, freedom!

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA (and a Lin Howe parent)

  30. Patrick Meighan says:

    Just to clarify: the California Federation of Teachers did, indeed, expend resources on mailers in support of local school board candidates in CCUSD’s most recent School Board election, for the express purpose of, as Ms. Frank put it in post #14, “get(ting) people elected to school board and city council positions who only agree with its positions.”

    Still waiting to hear why that was okay, but Culver City parents doing the same thing would be some sort of horror.

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA (and a Lin Howe parent)

  31. Dan O'Brien says:

    I couldn’t find a resource that lists each candidate’s contributions, but here’s a testimonial from Sandy and Stephen Schwartz – Ms. Goldberg’s campaign co-managers:

    “We were privileged to serve as co-managers of the Nancy Goldberg for Culver City School Board campaign. A core committee of about a dozen volunteers worked on the campaign including Beverly Peterson, the treasurer. Campaign committees and candidates are required to file periodic financial disclosure forms with the State Fair Political Practices Commission.

    The Assn. of Classified Employees-Culver City is affiliated with the California Teachers Assn. Nancy Goldberg was the only candidate endorsed by the Classified Employees Assn. Their cash donation to her campaign was $3,000. That money came from the California Teachers Assn. headquartered in Burlingame.

    Both Ms. Chardiet and Ms. Goldberg were endorsed by the Culver City Federation of Teachers. The California Federation of Teachers also endorsed the same two candidates. They paid for two slate mailers that were sent out about a week before the election.

    Their contribution is an in-kind donation because it was not monetary. That donation to the Goldberg campaign is listed on the financial disclosure forms as an in-kind donation as required by law.

    On the same in-kind donation form there is a donation listed from the L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO COPE, which also endorsed Ms. Chardiet. That contribution was the cash value of mailing labels provided to Ms. Goldberg’s campaign by them.”

    I apologize, Judith, for linking Ari’s site here. But it is where the source came from:

    http://www.thefrontpageonline.com/articles1-10168/Explaining3000DonationtotheGoldbergCampaign

    Dan O’Brien
    Culver City, CA (El Marino & CCMS parent)

  32. Dan O'Brien says:

    I also believe that the Culver City Democratic Club is defined as a PAC. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. I found a little data to support this here:

    http://images.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00407163

    My point is that PACs are not necessarily a bad thing. Culver City already has some organizations that are already actually defined as PACs or have the same characteristics as a PAC. As a parent, I’ve decided to participate with UPCC because resources will be allocated to support people or issues which serve the best interest of my kids.

    Dan O’Brien
    Culver City, CA (El Marino & CCMS parent)

  33. Debbie Hamme says:

    Just to clarify: The Association of Classified Employees–Culver City, does not have a PAC and we cannot use our members’ dues for political contributions. We can, however, make application to CTA for monies to contribute to the candidate/s we endorse for school board. We go through a stringent screening process with CTA in order to be granted funding, and the process includes citing our reasons for backing the candidate/s.

    We endorse candidates who we feel will have the best interests of the district’s students at heart and who demonstrate an understanding of the challenges and inequities we face in our district. We have never had a candidate who sat in an interview, promised the union ANYTHING and received our endorsement. We know such promises would be impossible to deliver, so we endorse our candidates based on their knowledge of the bigger picture.

    That being said, we have endorsed and given funding to Karlo Silbiger, Kathy Paspalis, Robert Zirgulis, and Nancy Goldberg in previous elections. Neither of the candidates on this list who won their bid for school board have voted on school issues in a manner that could be construed as “holding hands with the union” (for want of a better phrase), despite our monetary contributions or volunteering of time to their campaigns.

    And, contrary to what some may think, it has never been our expectation that they do so.

    Rather, we expect that members of the board practice honesty, fairness and objectivity when considering any issue before them. We expect them to observe Ed Code and honor the contract that we have negotiated with the district. We don’t expect blind support because we contributed to their campaign or voted for them because district business is far too complex and cannot be decided by taking only one side of an issue into consideration.

    You will never see us at a board meeting threatening recall because a board member is doing their due diligence before coming to a decision.

    Mr. O’Brien, you are right–PACs are not necessarily a bad thing.
    But, the motivation for forming one may be.

    Sincerely,

    Debbie Hamme
    President
    Association of Classified Employees–Culver City

  34. Dan O'Brien says:

    Ms. Hamme,

    That all sounds pretty reasonable to me. Only a few points:

    1) I was there the evening that someone brought up the “recall” threat. That was one person out of over 100 parents who either spoke or showed up in support that evening. It has bothered me for some time that some people have been trying to brand all parents who participated that evening as threatening, when almost all of the speakers were civil, articulate, yet passionate in their pleas to the board.

    2) I can’t speak for every parent – as we are a very diverse group – but for me, the only motivation for being a part of a unified voice of parents is to have the ability to quickly mobilize behind an issue or a candidate that can better the educational opportunities for my children in CCUSD.

    3) Sometimes these issues will be issues that ACE and CFT support. However, I am sure there will be other times when they are in disagreement. All the while, I expect that UPCC will be an organization whose leadership will present itself with decorum and civility while passionately fighting for the people and issues it believes in.

    Dan O’Brien
    Culver City, CA (El Marino & CCMS Parent)

  35. Debbie Hamme says:

    Mr. O’Brien, thank you for your response and your recognition of the reasonable content of my letter. I would like to take the opportunity to address the points you’ve made, if I may.

    1. I watched the board meetings from home, after being advised by the district that it wouldn’t be safe for me to attend. You may scoff at that notion, but the parents who attended those meetings, wrote to the local papers, circulated a petition containing many inaccuracies, contacted FOX News, MSNBC, wrote editorials urging Karlo Silbiger not to commit political suicide (and actually had the temerity and poor taste to show a picture of someone standing on a ledge ready to jump) and sent news releases to conservative blogs around the country, naming me personally, went well beyond any definition of civil discourse. Nor were they particularly concerned about how all of their “passion” would affect me or my family.

    Assuming that, as you recall it, only a single parent voiced the plans for a recall at that particular board meeting, there were other parents who carried that theme forward in the press for several weeks after the meeting. There was certainly more than one parent who reminded a board member that they had “voted for them” as if that single vote should result in the board’s immediate acquiescence to parent demands. And what about the parent who offered me his speaking time, only to then call out that he was “hearing crickets” because “oh, yeah, she isn’t here” and then pointed out his own rude behavior. As if I somehow owed it to the crowd to be present so they could vilify me in person? Would that be categorized as particularly civil? Articulate?

    So, please let’s be honest, Mr. O’Brien, and agree that there was much that went on in our community as we addressed this issue that was neither civil, articulate nor reasonable.

    I am bothered, as well, by parents who assure the community that their involvement is “all about the students” but then threaten to be absent from any movement to renew Measure EE–a measure that brings much needed funds into our district at a critical time and preserves programs and services that benefit students in every school. Where is the logic in that? Isn’t that a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face?

    2. I understand your commitment to being part of an organization that gives a voice to parents. But, when you say, Mr. O’Brien, that you want “to quickly mobilize behind an issue or a candidate that can better the educational opportunities for my children in CCUSD” that concerns me, because that makes it appear as if this is about your children and not about all of the other children in this district.

    If the parent’s union is going to be effective, it needs to be about helping to meet the challenges we face as a district, providing ALL students equal access to programs, services and opportunities for success, helping our lower achieving students to attain proficiency and giving all students the tools they need to become productive members of society.

    3. I absolutely agree with you–our issues are not mutually exclusive. Dare I say that even with regard to the adjunct issue, if it was really just about preserving services for the students of El Marino, it could have been worked out amicably, but that is a discussion for another day.

    It is my sincere hope, moving forward, that even when we don’t agree, we can model a spirit of cooperation and compromise for our children and the community. Otherwise, we’ll just look like the proverbial bunch of kids who when they didn’t get their own way, took all their toys and went home.

    Sincerely,

    Debbie Hamme

  36. Dan O'Brien says:

    Ms. Hamme,

    It’s unfortunate that you decided to get personal in your reply.

    If you were at all in touch with the what goes on in this district, you would know that my record speaks for itself in regard to working for all children. Many, many sleepless nights, 100’s of hours, all unpaid, I have spent for the benefit of all of CCUSD’s kids. It is galling that you would even hint that you are concerned that for me it is only about my children.

    Regarding the claims of news releases being sent around the country. I’ve heard this claim as well and have found the links. They are identical write-ups that were likely sent by one person – an individual. Maybe the same person who talked of recall.

    Regarding misinformation – well, if parents were allowed to be in the room while your demands were made (regarding parent funded positions) then maybe any inaccuracies could be verified.

    Bottom line is this: Right or wrong, individuals can write what they want or speak what they may say. Hopefully, they’ve attached their names to their words. I will state again that from everything I have read in the blogs and the papers, and everything I have heard at the school board meetings, the inflammatory comments probably make up less than 5% of the total. Ergo, you are floating a red herring when you try to connect the dots between individuals actions and the motives of UPCC.

    Most of the leadership of this fledgeling organization are leaders of their individual schools, donating time and money for all of the kids to benefit from. You are throwing darts at people who do nothing but give. How does that make you look?

    Very sincerely,

    Dan O’Brien
    Culver City, CA (El Marino & CCMS Parent)

  37. Susan Frank says:

    Mr. O’Brien

    A few remarks in response to your comments to Ms. Hamme:

    –It is my understanding that no one was willing to listen to anything ACE had to say at any time. I think there were people with ulterior motives who used El Marino parents to spread misinformation to get even with the unions and/or the School Board.

    –The person who wrote a comment about “recalling” School Board members is “Ron Edell.” I cannot find anyone by that name living in Culver City, and Mr. Edell wrote in response to one article and never wrote again. Perhaps Mr. Edell is using a pseudonym.

    –You saw the early blogs generated by the press release. Since that time, well-known and powerful right-wing institutions have been embellishing the articles to suit their nefarious purposes. In addition, Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin is quoted in the later stories, but not in the early ones. It is so sad to see our lovely community become fodder for anti-union proponents on a national level.

    –Since you hardly ever write anything pleasant, do you think you are capable of judging inflammatory remarks? In any case, if the District was concerned about Ms. Hamme’s safety, they must have sensed something menacing in the crowd’s behavior.

    –Debbie Hamme is one of the kindest, caring and smart people I have had the pleasure to meet. The way the community has treated her is truly despicable.

  38. Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin says:

    Ms. Frank,

    First of all, I do wish that you had attended the UPCC meeting last night, because you would have seen first-hand how parents of all Culver City schools are joining together in a positive, constructive way.

    Secondly, you have mentioned on several occasions that you can’t find any record of this or that person living in Culver City. I was unaware that there was some kind of formal list of Culver City residents.

  39. Susan Frank says:

    Ms. Wisnosky Stehlin,

    First of all, I would not have wanted to be in the same company of most of the people that attended.

    Secondly, you have heard of the Internet, haven’t you? Al Gore claims to have invented it, but that has proven to be false.

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