Pro: "Two independent school districts are best for the children of both communities. $2 million of money from Santa Monica is currently spent in Malibu. Those scarce resources would return home to Santa Monica! At the same time, Malibu would become a basic aid district and would operate with ~$2.6 million more than it currently receives. In addition, the current Santa Monica-Malibu school district could not be formed today. Geographically unconnected districts were made illegal in 1980 because they don't work very well. Each independent community has its own potentially very different sets of wants, needs and challenges. SMMUSD is the last geographically unconnected school district in California. Those different wants, needs, and challenges are made even harder to jointly resolve here because of the huge difference in the populations of the two cities. Santa Monica has 84% of the voters and therefore dominates the politics of the district. Historically, Malibu has had only one school board member out of seven. There has not even been one Malibu school board member elected since 2004. Independent districts would receive more focused leadership and have more money with which to teach their children, all without a penny of new taxes. It's a clear winner!"
Con: "Nothing could be clearer than the three steps that our community and our school district can and should be taking. First, there needs to be thorough testing of the environment at both schools. Second, the parents, teachers, staff, classified employees, experts, school district leadership, and students all need to discuss, explore, and understand the results of that thorough testing together. Finally, based on that understanding, those same people, our school community, must agree upon and see to completion appropriate remediation - however large or small. We can all agree that first and foremost comes the safety of the children and adults who frequent school premises. Let us all act in a manner such that this situation becomes an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and responsible stewardship to our children and to the larger community."
Con: "For the vast majority of age ranges and subjects, class sizes over 25 are clearly harmful to both the learning outcomes of students and a major burden to teachers who wish to teach their material properly. As a teacher, I know that classes over 24 students become difficult to teach in small groups. With 24 students, a teacher can split students into four groups of six students. Each group can be working collaboratively and/or with the teacher or teacher's aide. While groups of seven might seem similar, as the group size exceeds five or six, the benefits of small group work are rapidly lost. While there are times where the old fashioned teacher-centered model is appropriate, most times the best learning takes place in smaller groups. Large class sizes impact the teacher's ability to regularly assign meaningful homework too. Meaningful homework involving problem solving, unique solutions, creative or academic writing, independent research, or so many other critical 21st century tasks becomes exponentially burdensome to grade, provide personal feedback, and/or remediate as class size grows. The risk of large class size is less engaged, less creative classrooms, regardless of teacher commitment or skill."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The school board is elected to set strategy, establish policy, and monitor the execution of those strategies and policies. Setting strategy and policy is incredibly important. Providing district officials with clear, sensible priorities makes for a high functioning, well organized school district. Those strategies and policies should be set in an collaborative manner involving the district's officials, school leaders, parents, teachers, classified employees, community members, outside experts, and any other resources the school board finds contributory. Those strategies and policies should be set with one and only one goal: to give all the children of the district the best education possible.
Having set those strategies and policies, it becomes the school board's goal to monitor the implementation of those strategies and policies, working in consultation with all stakeholders to review execution and success and make adaptations as needed.
The school board's focus must remain on that one simple goal, to give all the children of the district the best education possible, and on creating and monitoring the strategy and policies to support that goal."
Con: "Schools are places of learning. Included in that concept of learning is support for each child's maturation and social skills. Our disciplinary model should be based on that principle, rules established to allow children to become better citizens, neighbors, and people. Of course, in such a structure, there need to be distinctions made regarding various transgressions and there absolutely need to be consequences. Both for the good of the student and of the school community there need to be clear rules and a clear ethical structure. However, those rules and that ethical structure needs to be based on the goal of giving all the children of the district the best education possible, not merely on maintaining order or punitive satisfaction."
Pro: "VSS is the largest undertaking of SMMUSD right now. Its promise is all children benefiting from very high and equal levels of resources. There is much we need to accomplish over the next four years. The future is ever more rapidly moving away from the educational dogmas of the last two centuries. The demands of the workplace have changed enormously as has the level and type of skills required. Adapting to a child-centered, 21st century teaching model will require more resources and more ethical integrity in how we treat members of our communities. The challenge for us is to create a vision of VSS as it will evolve over the next four years such that it can materially change the entire ethical, material, and pedagogical context in which learning takes place."
Pro: "As an advocate for whole child, child-centered, 21st century education, I believe that the physical body of students needs to be included in their education along with their brain. Let's be really clear, allowing children to be physically engaged as they learn is a crucial structure that teachers should often use in their teaching. 'Exercise' is far more than running laps, it also includes the ability of children to utilize their tactile and kinesthetic capabilities, even in core academic subjects. Of course, this extends too to the athletic fields, the auditorium or cafetorium, and the playground. There are tons of research that shows the huge positive benefits of exercise on brain health as well as tons of research that shows the deleterious impact of unbridled focus on narrow 'academic' pursuits. Including the whole child, body and brain, in teaching is essential."
Pro: "We live in the 21st century. Technology is changing our world at a more rapid pace than most of us can even appreciate. Ubiquitous tools like Google and smartphones only became mainstream in the last decade. The internet is largely a creature of the last quarter century. And technology will continue to progress in revolutionary jumps, creating in the next decade and the next quarter century changes in the fundamental cloth of life that we literally cannot image and certainly not predict. For me the question is not should students have access but rather how do we weave this new world of technology into our daily lessons. We have two challenges in this regard. First, we have to decide where technology has made our standard curriculum obsolete. Second, we need to be wise in what technology we provide where and why? What make sense in the moment may rapidly become laughably obsolete all too soon. As such, we must adopt a culture of experimentation and innovation in our schools and in our curriculum. As an added benefit, our children will learn enormously as they watch us take on the incredible challenge of staying abreast of change."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "As above, physical activity is essential to a whole child's health. Sports is an important offering we provide. It gives children outlets for their passions and gifts, an opportunity to play, a sense of being part of something larger than themselves, and as well as skill building and exercise. It is also an important cornerstone of high school life, both within the school and within the parent community, and even within the city. To the extent that all this is true, it follows that we should also provide a pathway from middle school sports to high school sports. This is a pathway that we do not currently provide. It is also a opportunity to increase city/school collaboration as we work together to provide healthy organized athletics programs to all our students. It must also be remembered that children find equivalent expression in many different ways and just as we support athletics, we need to support the arts, and extracurricular academics."
Con: "SMMUSD is responsible for the education of our children. No calling can be higher and no responsibility heavier. There is much we do right. But we all know that there is huge room for improvement. To me, the challenges of day-to-day pale in comparison to how do we help our children succeed in an uncertain, ever changing future. Educational curriculum and practices that worked in the 19th and 20th centuries are increasingly bankrupt in the 21st century. Yet, the road forward is not clear and the large educational companies and governmental bureaucracies are slow to provide solutions. We can be leaders in this, in our commitment to look into the future, in our desire to support innovation and innovators, in our flexibility to implement great new ideas. Many of the educational tools, practices, and philosophies of the 21st century make moot the issues of the 20th. By teaching to the whole child, by being student-centered, and by looking to the future, we may well resolve many of the toughest issues we've faced."
Con: "Minority achievement is not where it should be in SMMUSD. This is a huge challenge across the United States and one we face here at home. However, it is not insolvable and we must make every effort to solve it. There is much current educational philosophy that works to address this tragic loss of potential. We need to follow this more closely and implement the best solutions in our schools. There is also much to suggest that some solutions lie in a broader context, in the family, in the community, in the off hours. Here we need to partner with the families and communities to support every child in their academic and social success. Finally, I believe this is not a problem that will be solved exclusively by concentration on demographics. Each child is unique and there is huge benefit to be had by focusing on the needs of each child individually, child-by-child, teacher-by-teacher, circumstance-by-circumstance. Each of us is unique and only by addressing each child in that way can we truly help him or her realize their full potential."
As SMMUSD school board member, I will be a voice of leadership for the entire district. I will work together with our community to create a shared vision of opportunity. Together we will move toward even better schools where excellence, opportunity, innovation, and thorough academic preparation are available to each and every child!
I am extremely qualified: I am a parent, a teacher, a community leader, I have a master's degree in education, I have extensive experience in organizational leadership, I am innovative, creative, and knowledgeable, and I have been and continue to be broadly involved in the district.
Together we can make SMMUSD the extraordinary school district we all know it can be. Please give me your vote, I would love to be your voice on the school board!
Malibu Times "Dolphin" Citizenship Award winner 2012
PTA Service Award winner, Webster and Point Dume Elementary Schools
President, Advocates for Malibu Public School
Member, SMMUSD Financial Oversight Committee
Retired business leader
Former PTA President and Site Governance Council Chair, Webster Elementary School
Former member of Superintendent's Advisory Committee