Just a Thought – Dear Karlo

Dear Karlo,

Don’t do it.

I see you out there on the ledge, contemplating political suicide. Don’t.

It’s been a rough stretch of road, but I kinda figured that you knew it was going to be difficult.  I realized last Tuesday night that you have never been on the other side of such an angry audience before, and I felt I needed to say something to you.

Believe me, I have tremendous compassion for the outrageous position you’ve put yourself in. I did a lot of stupid things when I was your age, (most of them involving high times and lo mein)  but I did not do them as an elected official. If you want this to be your first elected office and not your last, you need to reconsider the stand you are taking, and who you think you are doing this for, and why.

So, even though your face tightens into a rictus of forced politesse every time you see me walk into a room, you should read this and take it to heart.

You are a smart guy. Anyone who has the education that you have has the brains to figure out the situation. You created this situation. By opting to look only at the rules and not at the reality, you are working with theory and not with practice.

What you need to do is look beyond this situation. This is not about unionizing the adjuncts. This is about recognizing who put you in office, and understanding that you work for them. If you don’t do what they think is the right thing, you will be removed.

Those 30-plus people who spoke at the podium during the last school board meeting all vote. They will not wait for the next election cycle, they will get very busy organizing a recall. And, as stated from the podium, a lawsuit.

Your reflections that your childhood experience in these schools gives you the ideal perspective to decide what these schools need falls far short of reality. Your affection for the adjuncts who served in your classroom does not give you the right to take away the ability of non-profit organization to provide other adjuncts for other classrooms. (It pains me that the non-logic in that previous sentence is a reflection of reality- crazy talk, that is.) Your desire to hand over the rights of parents to fund-raise to union officials only ensures that there will be huge fundraisers to end your position and your entire political career.

The people who spoke for hours last Tuesday night are only a small sample of the thousands of angry parents who will be needing your head on a platter if you continue to support the extreme overreach of the ACE union. If you continue on this course, you will assure your place in local history as one of absolute infamy. Any idea of any elected office after this – in Culver City or anywhere else- will be about as likely as a position playing center for the Lakers.

The idea of union protection for these positions is not, of itself, bad. The reality of it is terrible. So, please stop theorizing. Wake up and smell the traffic on the street below you.

If you continue to give merit to this absurd power grab on the part of the union, your future is over yesterday. You are here to serve the people of Culver City, and the parents of the district. You are not here to give the union leaders an easier job. If you would rather serve on a union board, by all means, go ahead. Right now, you are the president of the school board, and you need to start acting like one.

Unless you have some secret longing to be forced out of Culver City, to leave this place far behind and start a fresh new life all on your own, you need to get this off your desk.

You are young. People forget that, because you present yourself as someone who could be a decade or two older than you are. Age does not always confer wisdom, but youth never does. As we say in my profession, you have to stand up and live before you sit down and write. Take this in as a great educational experience, and remember what it is you want in the long run.

So, please listen to the thousands of people who can vote you in or out, and not the dozen people who have talked you out on to this ledge.

You can come back inside. There’s still time.

Don’t jump.


The Actors' Gang


  1. My goodness, Judith, this is amazing. I have so little more to say. Like you, I’ve been baffled by the evident willingness of (apparently) 3 out of the 5 on Irving Place to appear absolutely indifferent to the avid wishes of a huge group of supremely-active and organized parents with the demonstrated ability and willingness to marshal significant resources and to deploy them toward effective ends. Where’s the political upside to that choice? To what end does it render service?

    Does Karlo think these parents will just forget all this? Does Patricia think that? Nancy? Are the parents going to just disappear? Do they think the parents are merely pretending to care, or that they just don’t have better better places to spend their every-other-Tuesday nights?

    This board in general (and Mr. Silbiger in particular) have/has a very short window here in which to rescue themselves and, oh by the way, allow Culver City students and teachers to receive some invaluable assistance and support… support that CCUSD can’t currently provide, but that Culver City parents can (and are).

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

  2. I find the tone of the article and comment above leaving a bitter taste, with no nutritional value.

    Threats are counter productive. Let those who want to offer reasoned arguments speak. Take a step back from the ledge that you are telling Karlo and the other Board members about…. it is only the respectful majority of parents who will be dropping off that edge into the abyss. Your inflammatory rhetoric will be the catalyst for results that no one in CCUSD wants to incur.

    My family votes in CCUSD. We will not be part of any recall efforts for Board members who are doing due diligence in their office. Listening, asking about the law and thinking are not political crimes. Our Board Members are doing their best to serve the students, parents, teachers and staff of CC.

    We may disagree at times, but we should not be disrespectful to one another.

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found the tone of this troubling. Threats are inappropriate, and only lead to worse (seen last year in anonymous hate mail received by school staff involved in another dispute). A quick google search shows that Culver City is far from unique in struggling with this issue:

    New York State (parent-funded volunteers):

    Sonoma (non-funded volunteers)

    I respect and admire board members and administrators who take the time to come to a truly equitable solution that best addresses student needs.

  4. Well, JN, those links look like a preview of where ACE might want to take this thing. And if it goes there, it will get much uglier.

  5. Now there are three reasonable people who find this article (and the image) extremely disturbing. I agree with the comments made by “rsergant” and “JN” above. Culver City residents who subscribe to this type of hateful rhetoric should be ashamed of themselves.

  6. JN, I do want to clarify the difference between what happened last year and this dispute. To my knowledge, there was only one anonymous hate letter sent to one person; that was very unfortunate and not condoned by anyone. Public rehetoric related to saving the high school’s theater teacher was passionate, but respectful. Those involved made a conscious effort to be respectful and not threaten the people we wanted to reach. The tone of the current campaign is beyond anything most people I know have ever seen in this city.

  7. Susan – Agreed, absolutely.

    My original point is that this is not some Culver City outrageousness to be vilified, but evidence that our district’s employees are just as concerned for their jobs as other district’s employees, and are recognizing the possibility that they will be usurped (by unpaid or paid volunteers).

    Of course, we want everything for our kids, and as parents we value the terrific work the adjuncts have provided. But a knee-jerk “hey let’s draft a policy to resolve this TONIGHT” is not going to work. Us vs. them is counterproductive. This will take time. This will take compromise. This will take reasoning, legal advice, and negotiation.

  8. Thanks JN. You response was a breath of fresh air. You’ve expressed my feelings perfectly. But I want to add just an observation or two.

    Dear Editor,

    This editorial has to be one of the most condescending things I’ve seen written on the subject yet, and it epitomizes what is wrong with this whole issue. Perhaps you are still living on “high times and lo mein”?

    Even if they actually were in a position to do so, I have not heard Karlo, Patricia or Nancy say they wish to “hand over” jobs to the union or to ” take away the ability of non-profit organization to provide other adjuncts for other classrooms” in this “power grab”. What I have heard them say is that they value what adjuncts provide our students and wish to find a solution to this mess that is both legal and equitable. This is the behavior I expect from an elected official I support. I expect them to have principles and to uphold the law and agreements and contracts that they enter into. If they fail in this, then they have truly betrayed ALL of our students. Thank you Karlo, Patricia and Nancy for not going the easy route and pandering on this issue. Thank you for being responsible and keeping to the high road. Voters value that as well.

  9. It’s odd to me that none of the above letters calls for our School Board to do what is right for the *students*, period, full-stop. When we parents at Linwood E Howe Elementary have been organizing, fundraising and working our tails to put Instructional Aides in our classrooms, it’s been with that sole focus: to give our Lin Howe students their very best possible shot in the classroom. And we demand that Culver City’s School Board members be not one iota less single-minded than are we in focusing on the wellbeing of Culver City’s students. And finally, I (for one) don’t feel the tiniest bit ashamed in declaring that I will work avidly and tirelessly for the removal of any and every Culver City School Board member who does not share that student-first focus.

    Letting our elected officials know exactly what we expect from them and working with like-minded others to replace those who fail to meet that standard is not disrespect, and it’s not threatening, and it’s not hateful and it’s not the low road. It’s participatory democracy.

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

  10. One other note: just because some of you have apparently never heard of this issue until last month doesn’t mean that’s when it magically came into being. The Lin Howe Boosters have spent the better part of a year appealing to CCUSD for support against ACE’s attack on our parent-funded Instructional Aides (nee Learning Consultants). The School Board has been aware, for months and months, of the Classified Employee’s Union claims for jurisdiction. The Board has had ample opportunity for careful introspection of this issue. And until concerned parents finally went public in a broad and organized fashion last month, the Board has been utterly inert.

    Well, contemplation time is over. Leading time is here. Karlo, Patricia, Nancy: please show us your cards.

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

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