After serving on the CCUSD School Board for the last six-plus years (the change in the election schedule added extra months to the time of all who were on the board when it changed-) Summer McBride offered extensive comments on the occasion of her last meeting.
“I’ve always said that I am a parent first and that has not and will never change. I am proud of the work I’ve done over the last 6 years, having never missed a meeting. I have missed some of my kids’ birthdays and an anniversary or two, but I can say with all honesty, it was worth the sacrifice to serve this community. In all those years, I didn’t have to manipulate my way into rooms and spaces, I didn’t have to intimidate people in order to have a seat at the table or get my friends through the door. I’ve slept well knowing that every decision I made was one I wrestled with and weighed to understand the impact – who it would benefit and who it might harm. I’ll be the first to admit that my decisions weren’t always perfect, and there are some things I might have done differently after gaining a deeper understanding of the issue or hearing more perspectives. What I don’t have are any regrets as a result of insincere or selfish motives. I’ve never manipulated my constituents or sacrificed my integrity for clout. Those of you new to these positions and even those of you who have been here a while, I strongly encourage you to do something radical and think for yourselves. Don’t get distracted by the fact that some see this as just a local school board, but also, don’t be blinded by the light of praise and privilege that comes with being a “dignitary.”
We are servants. There is always politics at play and you cannot, for the sake of these students and all that is right, you can not assume people know your intentions are good just because you say they are. It is your job to lay your reputation, your bright ideas, and your self preservation on the line for every single student in CCUSD. Go into every meeting as if it is your child with an IEP, or your child who is food insecure showing up hungry 5 days out of 5, imagine it is your child struggling to make friends and feeling alone on campus during lunch time, pretend it is your child who may not graduate on time because there is still no Culver park and they don’t feel they belong anywhere else. And yes, I know that over the years, some of you have already shared personal stories of difficulties you’ve experienced in educational spaces being queer or English learners and that’s great. However, it’s one thing to experience it personally and another thing to work tirelessly so no one else has to. I’m asking you to feel what our families…feel what our staff feel, and make your decisions by centering them and their needs and not your own interests. As I processed the election results and went through the range of emotions, I had to figure out what made me the saddest. Turns out I’m not sad about not being re-elected. I’m sad that I don’t trust that we have a true democracy in Culver City because of intimidation and unseemly politicking, most of which has come from some self-professing progressive leaders who pretend to care about our kids but instead show up as performative allies silencing the voices of the very BIPOC for whom they claim to be a pipeline. Nevertheless, I’m leaving this election season with so much more than I started. Friendships have been formed and many have been strengthened. Alliances have been built with a shared vision for a better CCUSD. You’ve all heard the expression “assume positive intentions”. After 6 years in local government and on this board, I’m cautioning you…that is one of the worst things you can do. Never assume anything. Question everything when it comes to our children and the people holding (or hoarding) power, making decisions that affect our children’s education. It is sad but true, not everyone is here for the right reasons. You decide for yourselves who is, and always pay attention to not just what’s said, but more importantly what’s done. It’s no secret that I’ve long advocated for our schools to be repaired before focusing on workforce housing or any other attention getting projects that are more about optics than responsibility and student centered care.
I had three goals when I launched my campaign…win (that didn’t work out. lol), but also educate the community about the needs of our schools while working to dismantle the house of cards built by those who only serve to bring attention to themselves and not the needs of our students. We made progress with these goals, but there is still more educating and dismantling to do. When state and federal legislators call out the atrocities of other legislators and politicians, we celebrate it as truth-telling. In many ways, local politics impacts our daily lives more than state and federal politics could ever, and I think it’s time we start speaking our truths here. We can do it with respect, but it needs to be done nonetheless. People often confuse trust with respect. Respect should be the basis of how we interact with one another. Trust, however, has to be earned. CCUSD and this board has work to do to earn the trust of many in our community, and it won’t happen by gaslighting, dismissing, or ignoring concerns from students, staff, and families. There is no substitution for transparency and accountability, and it can’t be faked with cleverly worded press releases or disingenuous tweets. Allies are important, but a good ally for the LGBTQ+, for Indigenous people, for the Latino community, for students with disabilities, for those who are unhoused, for students on permit, for Black people…these allies should always know their role. Allies should stay in their lane because when you don’t, you take up space and YOU become the obstacle rather than a change agent. And for those of you who think being an ally simply means tweeting and retweeting Black thought leaders, you’re wrong. No one cares what you tweet if your actions don’t align and your “allyship” is harmful. Doctorates don’t matter when you’re not as smart as you think you are, and you’re fooling fewer and fewer people by the day. A good ally doesn’t take the plight of Black people, silenced communities, or the underserved to parlay that into a lucrative political or professional career. Those are called grifters.
Before you make decisions that will directly impact the 7000+ students and the 800+ employees and all the families represented, ask yourself how many people you’ve talked to outside of your echo chamber? How many times have you visited the site? How many meetings have you taken to hear from different perspectives? How many hours have you spent volunteering alongside the people you represent? How often do you reply to emails of people who don’t hold any power and can’t build up your career, but matter because they’re looking to you to advocate for them and their children? As for me, I’m not going anywhere. You might hear from me and see me at sites even more now that I have a little more time on my hands.
I will continue serving on the Equity Advisory Council, the Environmental Food Services Subcommittee, supporting the Disability Advisory Committee, the Black Parent Affinity Group, I’ll continue supporting the arts, advocating for equity in our athletic programs, and volunteering my time supporting our students, staff, and teachers. I don’t need a title to show up and serve. Never have, never will. I know that true leadership is not about the amount of power you have but about how much power you give…to others…so their needs are prioritized. I’ve learned so much from so many people. I want to thank my family (my husband London, our five sons – all CCUSD students and one recent grad, and my parents). I want to thank my village who have been with me since day one. I want to thank our food services workers, custodians, bus drivers, secretaries, noon duties, and all the staff who keep our district running but are often forgotten. I want to thank all the teachers and educators who work countless hours designing curriculum and lesson plans while also bringing joy to their classrooms so students are excited about learning. Thank you to our counselors, therapists, site administrators and district leaders who put students first. You know who you are. Thank you to every PTA and Booster member, and all of our families who volunteer to make our schools better. Thank you to every person who donated, voted, canvassed, and supported me. I can’t name you all, but I will give a special shout out to the Culver City Community of Color Collective, our certificated and classified unions lead by Ray Long and Debbie Hamme, local and state electeds like Supervisor Holly Mitchell, also our own City Councilwoman Yasmine Imani McMorrin and Congresswoman-elect Sydney Kamlager who are both in the house tonight. Thank you to my former colleagues on the board, Dr. Steve Levin and Dr. Tashon McKeithan. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Since the start of this election season, I’ve worn this bracelet. Inside, is a little scroll that I wrote one mission on as a constant reminder of why I’m here and how I want to show up. It says three simple words: WIN WITH LOVE. That means love for the students, love for public education, love for the power of local government to transform lives for the better, love for truth and community, love for service and the opportunity to help build, and love for the people who care deeply and consistently show up for our students. I may not have had the outcome I wanted, but I know I stayed true to my convictions and I did it with love. This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a new way of serving. I’ve been a parent in CCUSD for 13 years and only on the board for 6. I know how to work for my community and give back to the people who have given so much to me and my family. My favorite quote is from the late great Arthur Ashe. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” I’m taking what I’ve learned and will continue using it to do whatever I can to make our schools better in every way for every student. With so much love and from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, all!