Opinion: Board of Education Election–Celebrate What We Have–And What We Don’t

Op-Ed: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

I’ve been made aware of some disgruntled rumblings regarding the upcoming Culver City Board of Education Election. Because there aren’t a lot of candidates to choose from, the familiar peanut gallery of Culver City conservatives are behaving and posting like it’s some great liberal conspiracy.

Here’s the thing about the Culver City Board of Education: if you are qualified, you can (on in the case of November’s election, could have) run *as the deadline for filing your candidacy has already passed. Details for current and future elections: are found here – each election has an information section for candidates that includes this candidate handbook:

You have to agree with this mission statement:

The mission of the Culver City Unified School District, a diverse haven of excellence, is to ensure that each student possesses the academic and personal skills necessary to achieve his/her highest potential as a valued, responsible member of society by providing challenging, personalized educational experiences in a safe, nurturing environment and by fostering a passion for teaching and learning with committed parent and community involvement.

You have to follow the guidelines:

To file for this position follow these three simple steps:

1) Contact the Los Angeles County Elections Division office to verify that your address qualifies for the position.

2) Obtain the correct filing papers from the county elections office. It is understood that first time or beginning candidates may need someone to review the paperwork with them, so it is useful to stop by the office in person during normal business hours or arrange a time that you can speak with someone while picking up the filing papers.

3) Submit the filing papers within 113-88 days prior to the election. You will then be able to appear on the ballot! If you have any questions, the LA Elections Division can be reached by phone at (800) 815-2666 or voterinfo@rrcc.lacounty.gov

So what qualifications do you need?  

An academic background? No, but it would help.

Experience in public service? No, but that would help too.

An egalitarian sense of justice? No, but, again, helpful.

A degree, perhaps an advanced one, in Education? Ditto.

Experience at the teaching and administrative levels? Ditto.

A drive to help further facilitate Culver City schools as an all-embracing district in which students are encouraged to grow towards their full potential? This may see like an obvious yes, but the technical answer is actually no.

What you actually need: Your address must qualify you for the position.

This means, you have to live within certain boundaries.

As demonstrated by numerous other appointees and elected officials, being otherwise unqualified has never stopped anyone from running or from campaigning on long-time residency, which in Culver City qualifies as experience.

No one who has submitted an application for an appointment, cozied to former council members, donated to, or participated in, or began an unintentionally ironic city-wide movement, has been stopped — certainly not by ego, money or hubris.

They’ve all run. Some have won. Some haven’t (mercifully).

In other words, there’s no one to stop you running (if your address is within the boundaries), other than yourself.

So why is the pool for the open Board of Education positions so small?

A local blogger, heavy in the “pocket”* of right-leaning residents hinted heavily that someone hoping to run may have opted out, because of fear at how the opposition would characterize her and her campaign.

What does that mean? Certainly, it can’t be that potential candidate’s fault, someone who has summarily dismissed anyone, not in her orbit, alienated all, but her tight circle of “friends?” Certainly, this isn’t someone who lazily let others fight for her, online and in print, while she spouts disingenuous patter, feigning ignorance?

Certainly this isn’t someone who purports to be a feminist, but happily hands over work when it’s not high-profile enough? No. It must be…someone or something else. Really? Look. In. The. Mirror.

If you truly want and believe in doing your civic duty, there shouldn’t be anything to stop you from running. If you are afraid, you may have something to hide–could it be… yourself? Make the choice—which is more important: Helping to guide young minds, helping create policy at the highest civic level of local education, or your ego taking a well-deserved/about-time beating?  

For someone to make online pronouncements “anonymously” (btw, thanks for outing yourself through tells), to have the audacity to complain about the lack of candidates, only confirms your cowardice. You run once (more than a decade ago), you lose and fail, miserably, to bring about a generational local legacy. Is that why you’re so hard on the genuinely kind and civic-minded Karlo Silbiger? Is it because he managed to follow in his father’s footsteps, and you didn’t?

You may be proud of your (weak) turn of phrase, as you insult people you don’t know, but here’s the thing: they’re experienced, they’re running, and guess what? They’re going to win (unlike you).

They’re putting their names out there and beyond.  You demean those currently campaigning, who are juggling time and energies to run a campaign for school board, and when won, will devote hours and hours of time to it.

Stop complaining that there aren’t enough people running — if you’re confident, knowledgeable and qualified (do you live in the city borders?), go. for. it.

Don’t lament who CC voters have to choose from: celebrate and cheer that we have dedicated people who are willing and able to take on an onerous position. The candidates who will be on the ballot are experienced and motivated.

Perhaps you don’t realize how lucky we are to have the candidates we have? Perhaps you don’t realize how fortunate CC is to have a school board member like Dr. Kelly Kent?

Stop whining about what we don’t have (more candidates) — especially when that was an issue that could have easily been solved by someone filling out an application — be proud of what we have. And I, for one, am perfectly pleased to not have who we don’t.

The following candidates will appear on the November ballot

Incumbent Steve Levin
Mid-term appointee and incumbent Summer McBride
New candidate Tashon McKeithan

*accepts conflict-of-interest ad

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