Dear Editor – Pro and Con

As a Culver City parent, I believe it is time to increase the separation between the teacher’s unions and the people that make decisions, which impact teacher’s unions. People forget that teachers are union members and are influenced by their unions. Parents are focused on what is best for their children.

We are lucky enough to have parents running in our school board election, who despite their very busy lives, are willing to take time away from their own families to help run our schools better.

Kathy Paspalis (incumbent), an attorney and Steve Levin, an Astrophysicist, have offered to take the reins for the rest of us and stand up for parents. Finally the relationship between teachers unions and school boards will have a more appropriate separation.

As a reminder to Culver City parents: The unions tried to prevent parent-funded adjuncts because they aren’t union positions. They forced one Culver City school to give up the adjuncts that help our children get ahead in their classes and assist our wonderful teachers.

Claudia Vizcarra barraged ALLEM members and attacked the adjunct program. Where she would stand as a school board member is clear. Unions serve an important function in our society. However, there is a distinct conflict of interest in having union members and union backed candidates serving on our school board.

Let’s get out and vote on November 5th. Vote for our families and our children. Vote for Kathy Paspalis and Steve Levin.

Francine Graff

The Actors' Gang


  1. This is why UPCC is labeled as “anti-union.” It implies that teachers are not focused on what is best to kids. Tell that the performing arts teachers at CCHS who are there night after night until 10 p.m. to direct music, dance and theater programs. Tell that to the teachers at El Marino whose cars were still in the parking lots when I picked up my child at 5:30 p.m. Tell that to the teachers who run the Mock Trial programs at CCMS and CCHS. Tell that to the fine arts teacher at CCHS who has students in internships all over our fine city. Tell that to the coaches who run the baseball, football, volleyball and whatever other programs late into the night and at the weekend. Tell that to the teachers who have been there early in the morning to answer my child’s questions when she did not understand something, or who were there after school so she could make up a test. Tell that to the morning care and after-school care employees who were warm and wonderful and took time to help my children with their homework, rubbed their knees when they had a booboo, and always made sure they were safe and well-cared for.

    Yes, the classified employee union asked a legitimate question: Were people being paid by ALLEM to do work that should be done, under district union rules, by district employees (who by definition would be unionized). That act does not mean that teachers and school employees are not focused on what is best for kids.

  2. With all due respect. There is a huge difference between the teachers of whom you write and the unions. Our teachers are awesome!!!! And I’m sure I can speak for UPCC on that (although I am not) as well as all parents involved with CCUSD. The opinion was not about the teachers. 🙂

  3. Francine Graff’s statements would be laughable if the school board races weren’t so important.

    She writes “People forget that teachers are union members and are influenced by their unions. Parents are focused on what is best for their children.” Her implication is that only parents, not teachers, care about what is best for children. Isn’t that bizarre? Aren’t our teachers what we value most about the Culver City schools? And don’t our Culver City teachers care about their students?

    Then she writes “Claudia Vizcarra barraged ALLEM members and attacked the adjunct program.” But anyone who knows Claudia knows that she is the last person to either barrage or attack anyone or anything!! Claudia is soft-spoken and thoughtful. She is deliberative, thinking long and hard about issues and hearing what others have to say before reaching conclusions.

    Ms. Graff also praised her favorite candidates because they are parents. Guess what: Claudia Vizcarra is a parent with children in the school district!

    It’s very nice that one of the candidates is an attorney and another is an astrophysicist. But Claudia is an education policy analyst with years and years of experience in her field. I’m not sure I’d hire her to be my attorney, and I wouldn’t suggest that she design my rockets, but I am sure that our district could use her valuable expertise in education policy.

    I will be voting for Claudia Vizcarra (and Karlo Silbiger and Vernon Taylor) on November 5 and I hope other readers will too.

  4. Francine, though I work for the California Teachers Association, I was not involved in the adjunct dispute that you refer to. I know, however, you are wrongly portraying the position of the classified employees’ union. We have one school district. Why should people doing the same job in one program not be treated equally and paid on the same scale as those doing the same work at another school or in another program? In some school districts parents raise money so that the District can hire adjuncts – they don’t hire their own adjuncts and pay them less. There were and are many ways to resolve this dispute that would serve the interests of parents, students and school employees without your divisive and negative rhetoric that implies that those who devote their lives to educating our kids and keeping them safe are not deeply concerned about the public interest. There are unfortunately many people who have contempt for working people. If you and Ms. Paspalis are not such haters, you need to distance yourself from those in your ranks who clearly are. So far, I’m not convinced you have the respect you claim.

  5. To anyone who may have read the post by Michael Hersh above, I would like to set the record straight – from a volunteer parent’s point of view.

    The El Marino adjuncts are target language modelers at the language immersion school. They are native speakers of either Spanish or Japanese. There is no position in the Culver City Unified School District that does the work of the language adjuncts.

    The Spanish immersion program was started over 40 years ago. Culver City Unified School District was the first public school district in the United States to offer this program. But when it started there was a catch – the District agreed to implement the program as long as it was at zero cost to the District. The science behind learning language is that people learn more thoroughly when they are immersed and exposed to other people who model the language. Thus, the Adjunct program was born. Advocates for Language Learning El Marino is a nonprofit organization which is run by parents of the school to raise money to fund adjuncts – or target language modelers. The adjunct program has been in place for over 26 years now.

    There was an attempt last year by the Classified Employees Union to bring these part-time language adjuncts into the union. If you go back and do a bit of research, you will see that the president of the union claimed that she had just recently heard about the adjunct program (after it’s been here for over 25 years). One can draw the conclusion that this claim was made to suit the law which gave the union a 6 month – not 25 year timeline to make a claim to force unionization. You can decide for yourself.

    Furthermore, the unionization of the adjuncts would have forced the hard-working parents to have to raise thousands and thousands more dollars per year. It is a matter of dollars and sense, balance sheets and trust. By the way, the booster club parents at Linwood E. Howe, Farragut, La Ballona and El Rincon were in support of the El Marino parents on this issue.

    So – the District now has a very common-sense approach to the Adjunct situation or any other parent-funded position for that matter. If the parent-funded position is not a position that was previously in the District, the position does not have to be a union position.

    I think that this was a good solution. Board members Kathy Paspalis and Laura Chardiet were the school board front-leaders in coming up with this solution, with the instrumental work of Steve Levin, who was then a Farragut booster club parent.

    I am supporting Kathy Paspalis, Steve Levin and Sue Robins in this current school board election. Now, I’m no lawyer for the California Teacher’s Association (which is not a local Culver City group), but I can tell you as a union member myself that common sense prevailed last year under the leadership of Paspalis, Chardiet and parent Steve Levin. I am voting for the candidates that have stated that they support parent-funded positions as well as the facilities bond, parent involvement in the successful roll out of Common Core, and a host of other extremely important issues.

    Finally, if anyone is actually reading my post all the way to the bottom: In my opinion, it is okay to state your own opinion about what you believe in. In fact, we encourage that in a democratic society. I reject the premise that disagreement means “contempt for working people,” “haters,” “divisive,” “anti-union,” whatever else I’ve heard or read in this election cycle. It might indeed be an effective sound-bite. I hope not. I hope that rumors will die and truth and common sense will prevail. It’s one of things we’re teaching our kids in the anti-bullying program. A real discussion is so much more valuable, a real discussion of the issues that affect our kids is worthy of our city.

  6. Again, Christine, you are branding someone who is speaking their own views as someone who represents UPCC. Ms. Graff did not even reference UPCC. I’m not sure if she is even a member. I actually think her argument is flawed, as she argues for two candidates because they are parents while Claudia Vizcarra and Vernon Taylor are also parents with kids in our schools.

    Please stop with the blatant misrepresentation.

  7. This is not a post about how dedicated our teachers are. Many of us know and love our teachers and support them and their dedication daily. This is a post about the separation between the teacher’s unions and the people that make decisions which impact teacher’s unions. My guess is that most of the people who responded to my post are teachers, who are in the union. Vizcarra, Taylor and Silbiger are (Teacher’s) union backed candidates.

    I represent no group. I am neither pro nor am I anti union. I am a tax paying parent who wants candidates on the school board who will give the parents a voice. Claudia works for the LAUSD school board. LAUSD has a reputation for crowded schools, large class sizes, high drop-out and expulsion rates, low academic performance and incompetent administration. LAUSD just approved School Superintendent John Deasy to stay at the helm. It’s been a tough battle for him as (many news stories have explained) he has been battling a pro-union school board.

    We can debate this topic till the cows come home but one thing is for sure. We need unaffiliated non union parents on the school board.

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