I strongly support candidates Karlo Silbiger and Claudia Vizcarra. I have lived in Culver City for more than twenty years. As a former public school teacher, I appreciated the amazing education my son received in our schools and the dedication of Culver City’s teaching and support professionals. For the last eleven and three quarters of a year, I have been a Staff Attorney with the California Teachers Assn., with whom our classified employees are affiliated.
I have known Karlo since he was one of my Sunday School students at age 13 or so. I have witnessed close up his personal education and devotion to public education for others. I do not agree with Karlo on every issue. But I have complete confidence that he only does what he knows as an educational expert to be in the best interests of students. It is outrageous to claim otherwise simply to score campaign points. I have never known another human being to work as hard as Karlo to understand the issues and decisions he has to make as a School Board member, to serve the students he teaches, and at the same, continue his studies in Education Administration so he can better understand how policy is effectively implemented.
I have known Claudia Vizcarra and her family for many years. Not to date myself, but I think my son may have been a Sunday School teacher for her kids. I was thrilled to see her become a candidate in this election. She is exactly the sort of intelligent educational policy expert the School Board needs at a time when all the rules on educational standards and school financing are shifting.
She is a parent, bilingual, and a working mom who completely understands the students in our district from the most vulnerable to the most invulnerable. Her work for an L.A. Unified School District Board member gives her unique insight into the state and federal issues we can expect to come before the School Board.
Like Karlo, she has chosen to make a career out of developing sound education policy to help all students move forward. As a community, we need to focus on the skills the candidates bring with them, and not seek to divide our community with pseudo issues and mock crises.
I believe that the rhetoric concerning the bond measure that the majority of the current School Board decided to study further before putting it to the voters, is a ridiculous non-issue that distracts voters from the important Education policy issues that will face our School Board in the next few years. None of the school board members is opposed to bringing money into the District, but a majority of the board are exercising judicious judgment to make sure it is done the right way. I’m sorry if this is disappointing to some folks who want to see serious problems fixed immediately, but I think most in our community expect our elected leaders to be judicious and careful with public resources, especially when dollars are scarce.
While the supporters of Kathy Paspalis publicly trash the school employee union endorsements this year that went to Silbiger, Vizcarra and Taylor, Ms. Paspalis was thrilled to receive the teachers’ endorsement four years ago and featured it prominently on her web site. Her failure to receive that endorsement this year simply means that teachers never stop learning.
My concern is not that this is just sour grapes on the part of Paspalis, but evidence of her disdain for educators and unions. Teachers and classified employees work in the buildings our kids study in. When conditions are unsafe and unhealthy, school employees care greatly about improving that situation. We count on them to provide emergency assistance to disabled students, to keep students engaged, and be counselors, nurses and librarians where there are too few actual counselors, nurses and librarians to serve students. School employees and their unions are NOT simply about securing better wages and benefits for themselves. They fight for our kids and they deserve our deep respect.
School employees have dedicated their professional lives to educating our kids. We have serious problems in our District, and in society as a whole, that cause many kids to fall behind. Only rarely can this be attributed to particular teachers. Yet I have seen Ms. Paspalis jump on the bandwagon of education “reformers” who blame teachers for the poor performance of an underfunded and overworked public education system. We can help those who fall behind by looking at the problems of poverty and inequality growing all around us while education and public health programs have been slashed and parents have lost jobs. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, like Dr. Steve Levin, or an attorney, like Ms. Paspalis, to know that we need folks who have dedicated themselves to public education to trust with our students’ future. I was thrilled to see the Culver City Democratic Club endorse Karlo and Claudia after hearing from the candidates. I hope you will support them as well.