Dear Editor- Parents Clarify

Dear Editor,

Debbie Hamme of the ACE classified union threatened legal action against the District in 2011 that resulted in the District taking control of the one-year old LinHowe booster program away from parents. Those parent-funded employees became employees of the district and… members of Ms. Hamme’s union. She gave a written demand to bargain to the District on Friday over the fate of the adjunct program at El Marino that has been successfully run by a model parent-district partnership for 25 years.

Ms. Hamme’s recent defense of her actions (Feb 17 letter to a Culver City newspaper) was full of errors that have served to escalate the conflict between her and parents in the district. She claims that it is the parents seeking to defend their rights as being the cause of what is upsetting parents; she and her defender on the school board, Karlo Silbiger, continue to deny that it was her threat of legal action– and now her meritless demand bargain– that are the sole problems here.

The most upsetting element of her letter, however, was her attempt to divide parents from different schools against each other by labeling some of us “haves” and others as “have-nots.” She may find such divide-and-conquer tactics work in her union, but they have no place when you are dealing with parents and their children. To say we are disappointed by Ms. Hamme’s tactics would be an understatement.

Worse, her attempt to get parents to turn on each other is based on a gross distortion of the facts. She claims El Marino has 20 adjunct positions and La Ballona’s immersion program has zero. Ms. Hamme’s arguments are based on a lack of understanding of our programs:

La Ballona parents have raised money for adjuncts or other assistants but had problems getting the district to accept funding for those positions. This may have been due to a lack of a written policy or because of Ms. Hamme’s threats to litigate against the district. But, contrary to Ms. Hamme’s assertions, it was not because La Ballona parents are “have-nots.”
El Marino has 20 part-time positions of three hours or less per day. That equates to 7.5 full-time positions (not 20) for a program that serves over 750 children.
El Marino’s program is over six times the size of the immersion program at La Ballona. La Ballona is only in the third year of their excellent program and has 132 children in K-2 grades.
Immersion children at La Ballona have the assistance of instructional aides in 1/3 of their immersion grades (Kindergarten, but not yet 1st or 2nd grades).
The immersion model at La Ballona is not the same style of immersion as El Marino’s. Both models are proven and successful immersion eduction methodologies, but they are not identical and they have different needs.

Ms. Hamme should stop trying to play parents against each other. At the end of the day, we have something in common that she clearly does not share: ALL of us parents share a hope that what is best for kids will guide the decisions by ALL school board members.

Ms. Hamme has never had a role in parent-funded programs such as the ALLEM adjunct program– and she never will. Parents throughout the district stand united in this sentiment. She does not have the right to negotiate anything regarding our program. By state law, she lost her legal right to object to the program six months after the El Marino program was established in the 1990’s (Government Code section 3514.5(a)(1)) despite her bizarre claim that she just learned about the adjuncts.

Ms. Hamme further implied that the El Marino program violates federal law. She is wrong and she should know better. The law she cites applies to District employees, not volunteers or employees of non-profits who are provided to the district at no taxpayer cost.

At the end of the day, Ms. Hamme has yet to articulate any reasons why our children would benefit from having the adjuncts be members of her union instead of employees of the parent nonprofit that has run it for 25 years.

Any parent in the district who supports the rights of parents to be part of parent-district partnerships should be alarmed by Ms. Hamme. But a greater threat is that her campaign against parent rights will single-handedly prevent our district from recruiting strong candidates to replace the retiring Superintendent Jaffe. As she escalates her campaign against parent-funded programs, she is ensuring the presence of 100+ angry parents at all of the upcoming school board meetings– not to mention the corresponding media attention. If she persists then we hope she will actually come to one of these meetings to hear the parents. By not having any representative from her union explain themselves at the last school board meeting she showed disrespect to parents. Her divide-and-conquer letter furthered that impression of a lack of respect.

A final message to Ms. Hamme: The only haves in this district are parents and staff who have school children as their primary concern; the only have-nots are so-called leaders who do not have as a primary concern the welfare of school children. Your actions in this regard, Ms. Hamme, speak louder than your words.


Parents from four different CCUSD school: Diana Aceves, Tammy Bersing, Anne Burke, Dan Gillman, Bill Katz, Scott Kecken, Jenny Manriquez, Tori Kitagawa, & Heather Moses

The Actors' Gang

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