Several writers submitting letters about the school board candidates have noted the amount of volunteering each has contributed to our schools and want to make that a criterion for supporting them. To that point I will describe the situation that existed when my husband Stephen Schwartz ran for a seat on the Board in the ‘70s. He was a sheet metal worker in those years and our oldest son had just started kindergarten at Farragut. He hadn’t done any volunteering in the schools yet. Voters had just passed a property tax override and he wanted to be sure the money was spent wisely so he decided to run for a seat on the board. A major issue at the time was the banning of certain books in our schools. Yes, that really happened. This was so outrageous to many of us that he felt the best way to deal with it would be as a board member. He was elected and the issue of banning was resolved. During his term of office Prop 13 was voted into law and as part of that governing body he had to make the painful cuts in programs at our schools.
The point I am making is that it doesn’t matter if a candidate volunteers or not although it is a wonderful thing that they do, or if they have children in our schools or not, or what their age is, or even what profession they pursue. What matters is that they possess a passion to contribute to the betterment of the education of our children. Whether that passion exists as expertise to share, or just a drive to deal with current issues in the district, candidates put themselves through the rigorous, exhausting, all-consuming campaigning that comes before the election.
I give credit to all seven school board candidates who are vying for a seat on the board. I can only vote for three. One of my votes is going to Claudia Vizcarra, a single parent of two Culver students. Her knowledge of public education and local, state, and national policy is deeper than anyone else I know. She has gained this expertise from working with LAUSD School Board VP Steve Zimmer as his Chief of Staff/Education Policy Director. These policies affect all school districts, including Culver City, and having someone familiar with these regulations will be a valuable asset on the board. Her concerns about the new Common Core standards will translate into a smooth transition to the implementation of the program. She is one of the most fair-minded individuals I have met and believes every student deserves an equal education. Her efforts to attain this goal are ongoing. In addition, because Claudia is bi-lingual and has years of experience dealing with diverse groups of stakeholders, she is able to communicate effectively with constituents in our district.
So when you are deciding who to vote for on November 5th or before, look at the qualities of each candidate and the unique abilities they can bring to the board, not how much they have volunteered or if they have children in our schools. A board member can be a real estate agent, a nurse, an accountant, a retiree, or even a sheet metal worker, and be a dedicated and effective school board member. This has been proven throughout the years.