Dear Editor – Motivation and Measures

To the Editor–

There is a lot of commentary and speculation about the motives of Culver City’s elected progressives. Are they genuinely trying to lift up the minority communities of our city (and in particular their children in our schools), genuinely trying to improve lives, or are these officials just doing what makes them feel most righteous, indifferent to whether it effectively lifts anyone, and even to whether it makes matters worse?

So it’s important to consider how we can tell the difference, instead of just speculating based on our biases.

There are two central aspects to a genuine effort to lift the voices, and the life conditions, of disadvantaged communities. The first part is initiating action—proposing programs, and starting them off. This part is central whether you want to actually improve lives, or just want to feel righteous, so it doesn’t tell us much about motives.

The second central part of a genuine effort is more administrative. One must decide what data will be used to measure success, and how that data will be collected and turned into measures of progress. If an outside organization is contracted (like New Earth, by CCUSD), there must be close monitoring of how they are spending the public money they are given, how many people it is helping, and in what ways—this is basic contract management practice. School Board or City Council meetings should involve plentiful question of top management, as to how this process is happening.

This administrative part of programs to uplift is central to actually improving lives. But it’s the less exciting part compared to initiating–it produces little additional righteousness once the “let’s do something” part is complete. In fact, some programs will inevitably fail, and if the righteousness-seekers are forced to learn about it, it interferes with their righteous feelings, so they’d rather NOT know. THIS is where we can really separate the “genuinely uplifting” officials from the righteousness seekers. Do they demand proof of results, demand measurements, and demand prudent spending? Or are they pretty much silent during meetings, at the times such demands might be made, never really questioning the top management?

With the School Board it is absolutely clear that the progressive members care not the least about the administrative part. During meetings they NEVER demand proof of results, never question the wisdom of any spending, never demand answers or accountability from top management. This is the compelling evidence that they are only there for the righteousness—if the programs they initiate don’t work, if the huge sums they are spending are wasted, they just don’t want to know about it.

The same was true for the Council when the progressives were in charge. The MOVE project was put in place without doing a traffic study first as a baseline, and a survey of public opinion about it was so badly designed it had to be thrown out and a new one done. Again, ZERO interest in measuring, or even knowing, the actual effectiveness.

It’s shocking how quickly the quality of our city and our schools can decay, when righteousness junkies are in charge. They need to leave, or be evicted next election. Then we can install some people who actually care about results.

Kenneth Alexander

The Actors' Gang