In this election season where so many critical decisions will be made, I am writing this letter to urge parents in Malibu and Santa Monica to support the school board reform slate of Craig Foster, Karen Farrer and Seth Jacobson.
Many have eloquently stated why Malibu needs a voice on the school board. I want to put forth a far more global argument in favor of the slate. SMMUSD parents need representation from candidates who are first and foremost parents with young kids in our schools right now. All three reform slate candidates have children in our schools today — children who will be directly impacted for many years to come by the decisions made by our school board. They have children who are now sitting in classes with 30 percent more students than were in those same classrooms two years ago.
All three sit on governing bodies at our schools and all three routinely volunteer in our schools. There is no argument where someone who is inside a school on a daily or weekly basis is less informed to fight for the needs of all of our children than someone without any kids in any of our schools. Forget asking “when was the last time you saw one of the incumbent board members at your school in an off election year?” Ask instead, “when was the last time one of the incumbent board members rolled up his or her sleeves to volunteer to help a teacher or a school on a regular basis?” Ask “when was the last time one of those board members was asked by his or her child for help with homework or an art project or why there might not be vocal music for a younger sibling?” Ask, “are any of the incumbents certified teachers?” Foster is a certified teacher working in our district right now. Ask, “are any of the current board members founding members of one of our district’s most effective fundraising bodies?” Farrer is a founding and current member of the Shark Fund and Seth Jacobson is the current president of the Shark Fund. Ask about expertise in making difficult financial decisions and you will find that Foster is a retired financial executive and that Jacobson sat on the President’s Council for Small Business Innovation. Ask about passion and you will see that Karen, Craig and Seth all volunteer in their schools, on their unit PTAs, on PTA Council and on various districtwide committees. Farrer has 21 years of service to SMMUSD PTAs and PTA Council.
These are challenging economic times for our state, and difficult decisions need to be made for our schools. As a parent, and five-year PTA Executive Board member at Webster Elementary School, I know I would prefer that those decisions be made by school board members who will witness, day in and day out, the ramifications of those decisions. Wouldn’t you rather have representatives who are committed to making cuts in district administrative costs rather than in our classrooms?
This is not just Malibu vs. Santa Monica. This is a parents with young children in our classrooms vs. those without. And it is a consideration that every parent in our district needs to weigh as they go to the polls. I for one think it is time to give three candidates with passion, a clear vision, and a real and tangible stake in the decisions made for all of our children a chance to make real and positive change. Please vote for the reform slate on Nov. 6.