As the presumptive runner-up (along with Tom Larmore) for the appointment to the open SMMUSD Board of Education seat, I want to extend my congratulations to Ralph Mechur for emerging as the selection. Ralph is a good person and passionate about our schools.

The entire appointment “process” was illuminating for me. It forced me to reflect upon my 11 years of volunteer work in our schools and communities. Sorting through roles as varied and disparate as making a playground safe for kindergarten students to serving as PTA President at two schools to an appointment to the Financial Oversight Committee, I was able to realize on a micro and macro level why I wanted this seat on the Board of Ed. During the application and then the interview session, I described a plan for my vision of our schools: rethinking our school day, creating programs such as foreign language in all elementary schools and computer science in middle schools, strong leadership and accountability from our board, outreach to all of our schools and their communities so that relationships will have been formed before they are needed due to a concern or crisis, and of course a reinvigoration and strengthening of VSS to ensure equity for all students. I also met with numerous stakeholders in our schools, from parents to teachers to classified staff to administrators. It is clear to me that there is a need for all that I just mentioned and so much more.

We have great progressive-minded communities and we deserve schools and leadership that reflect them. We have many strong components to our schools but now more than ever we must be visionary. Phrases like “21st century schools” ring hollow in buildings built in 1941. Heath and safety concerns cannot be ignored or remediation delayed any longer. We need to start preparing our students for jobs that have not been invented yet. Forward thinking long term plans for academic, social and infrastructure goals are not a luxury but a necessity.

The appointment process for Ben Allen’s open seat forced me to examine what I saw as not just needs in our schools but why I thought I was the best person to identify and address them. After Thursday night and hearing from so many people about how inspired and energized they were from what I had to say and share, I am even more motivated to serve the students of our district from the highest platform. Consider this a very early announcement. I will be seeking a seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education in 2016. I will spend the next two years continuing my hard work as a committed volunteer for all of our schools and both of our communities. Then, when it comes time to head to the ballot box, I will put my trust in the registered voters of Santa Monica and Malibu and hopefully win my seat the old-fashioned way by earning their respect, confidence and vote. I welcome the opportunity and am excited about the challenges that will come. Bring on 2016.

Jon Kean
Santa Monica

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