As the two sitting CCUSD trustees who are not up for re-election—and as the candidates who were endorsed by the Culver City Democratic Club in the last cycle—we are often asked about our priorities. This letter responds to that question by outlining the three principles that are guiding us in the current race for school board. We share a mission to create a community where everyone is uplifted and where we intentionally open doors so that the next generation can live a life full of joy, happiness, and purpose.
A majority (three out of five) of CCUSD school board seats are open this November, which gives us an exciting opportunity to accelerate and enhance the progress we have made in the last few years, as well as launch in the areas where we’ve been stuck. We are looking forward to sharing the dais with a diverse collective of voices and experiences in order to serve all of our 7000 students, their families, and our 800 staff members.
1. Words are not enough. We must act in the best interest of the students.
The community can only hold electeds accountable by measuring their impact. Words alone are not enough. As we meet with candidates, we are asking if they are willing to take the next steps in our continued commitment to be a “full inclusion district,” helping our students with disabilities be fully integrated and gain complete access to rigorous, standards-aligned curriculum. Similarly, if there is an expressed commitment to the “whole child,” will incoming board members be willing to address the district’s role in the housing status of both students and staff? When we say we put safety first, will the new trustees demand to implement evidence-based safety measures like district-wide commitments to social and emotional well-being, restorative practices, and culturally responsive and inclusive educator professional development?
In order to best ensure the most marginalized of our students and their families are always centered in our policy discourse as well as in less public settings like closed session, meetings with the superintendent, and smaller gatherings with other community members, we hope the three incoming board members will share our desire to make intersectionality a feature of all school district commitments. For example, when we target services to our English Learner (EL) population, we must also consider that some of our ELs are Black-identifying students as well as unhoused and will have unique needs that are related to the way multiple systems in the United States underserve these families. Our experience on the board has taught us that when only one aspect of a student’s name, face and story are centered in their individualized education, that student is much less likely to graduate with access to both a four-year college and a viable career path. We have learned that when we only tend to a student’s need for food, but not also their need for teachers and staff that look like them, they may be less likely to graduate with Advanced Placement courses and exam credits.
Striving for equity demands that each of those voices must be considered when we act on behalf of our English Learners, foster and unhoused students, students with disabilities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students who are below English and math standards. At this pivotal moment when three new seats are up for election, we do not have the privilege to work as lone fighters.
We don’t have the privilege to be incrementalists and vote for one singular value or focus on one issue. The urgency of our times in terms of public sector funding, the risks of gun violence, the climate crisis, and the emotional well-being of our youth, demands that we break from a scarcity mindset and roll up our sleeves to do the work for all of our most vulnerable. And to that end, we must remember that we govern in a community, where ALL levels of stakeholder (student, labor group, district leadership, teacher, school site, unions, family, community member, faith-based organization, etc.) must collaborate.
At this time, we are meeting with candidates, and inviting others to join these collaborative discussions. We believe that the candidates we choose to endorse, if elected, will help our students meet their full potential. Additionally we look forward to engaging with our community so that everyone can make an informed decision on which candidates are ready to turn words into action.