Letter: For Whom the Vote Tolls

Mar Vista resident Sara Roos writes a letter to editor about the Los Angeles Unified School District District 4 school board race.

To the editor:

I am so frustrated by the school board race in LAUSD4: I just have no idea what is going on any longer. I'm primed to fend off the jargon and the disingenuous positionings but I still just can't make my way through the thicket.  The volume of debris in my mailbox is stifling, the confusing, circular endorsements saying one thing until the last second when a 180-gets dropped; I can't take more of this.

So I'm clearing the air and trying to focus on one narrow question, independent of the outside forces jockeying and positioning and focus-grouping. I want to know who will do the best job on the school board. And that also means defining the constituency they should be doing that job for, because part of the problem is that there are so many clamoring for belonging, from the mayor of a rival city 3000 miles distant to career lawyer-politicians with no educational experience - it matters to the question 'who would do the best job' to know for whom they would be doing that best job.

Unfortunately, the very answer to that question is itself "jargon-ized." By that I mean the definition of a word has been appropriated to encompass a whole set of meanings and attitudes and positions; a word has become an icon, a euphemism, and the hyperlink to one's emotions that it activates is subconscious and hidden. So the meaning of our language has been appropriated for political manipulation - and this is some of the reason it's all so very hard right now too.

I want to answer the question, 'For whom is this best-job directed' with the answer: "Kids." I mean, sorry for the immaturity, but: Duuuhh. Education is about teaching children. There are allied branches of this involving, for example, the teaching of teachers and the political-societal role of teachers and administrators or the science behind development and cognition. But in the here-and-now, this question of who is best for a school board is just about who will best address the daily routine of setting children on their paces through a routine designed to "educate" them.

That question of what and how "education" even is - this is a question for a different arena. On the school board I want someone who is focused on educating my kid, competently. Period.

Narrowing the field of verbiage this strictly leaves me in the clear, easy place I started as far as choosing an LAUSD4 candidate.  We have an incumbent running and the question is: how did he do? And the answer is really clear-cut:  great. This guy's never stopped running, all term long -- not just recently, as foreigners have ideological guns pointing at his head (metaphorically speaking of course), but ever, all term long. This guy lasers in on kids and what they are saying. It's almost a little bit unnerving, truth be known, the intensity with which he attends to them. They are his one and only. I feel, as a parent, my ticket to his ear is because and only because and insofar as that I come along for the ride as my kids' guardian. He sorta kinda cares about me and my opinion, but only because it's my kid that he's devoted to.  And when I say "my", that is understood as standing for 'anyone's my'.  He's devoted to your kid too because remember, it doesn't even seem to be me he's aware of:  it's the kid. Any-kid.

To this end he has listened, he has heard and acted on issues and problems all over the place. The laundry list of changes he has affected is way, way too long to enumerate. The carpet of bodies he has helped is strewn in gratitude all across this far-flung district. People he has encountered, are in vast preponderance grateful, appreciative, better-off and helped by his work. For them.

There is nothing broken in this man's incumbency, and much left to accomplish as well as safe-guard against. Why on earth would anyone not vote for him?  He is the very definition of an incumbent worth retaining: he has done a good job, for the full cross-section of his disparate community, and there is more yet to be done. For kids.

That's it, he's a bird-in-the-hand. He's done a good job, he's forwarded my interests in the form of the raison d'etre of my very being, my kids and there is zero reason to imagine Steve Zimmer won't do so in the future.

Sara D. Roos
Mar Vista

p.s. The teacher-stuff and in particular the teacher-union stuff - it's all a red herring. It's a crucial socio-political issue to be sure, but that's not what's at stake here right now, with LAUSD4. The issue at hand is who will do this job best. That doesn't involve the philosophy of teachers and teaching and competency and unions vs corporate barons at all. It's a simple matter of figuring out who is likely to serve your child's interests best in the immediate future term. Based on past performance, Steve Zimmer is the clear winner.

District 4 of the LAUSD is comprised of Brentwood, Del Rey, East Hollywood, Encino, Hollywood, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Playa Del Rey, Tarzana, Topanga, Westchester, West Hollywood, Westwood, Woodland Hills and Venice.

Cliff March 01, 2013 at 08:27 PM
I completely agree with you Sara. He's done a good job and should be reelected. I'm always suspicious of people who take large donations from outsiders trying to determine our fate. I'd take a union man any day over that. Please don't forget that Kate is taking money from Bloomberg who ran as a Republican until he switched to Independent on the Republican ballot line.
Deborah Lashever March 01, 2013 at 08:32 PM
FYI, Please read the following letter from Valerie Fields, former LAUSD board member: "As you know, I am a former member of the LAUSD Board of Education and I found Anderson to be very uninformed, she has no clear idea of what the obligations of a board member is. Additionally she is strongly for the creation of more charter schools. I believe that charter schools are a thrust to privatize public education on the taxpayers' dime. Some charters are excellent and some are really dreadful. Most do not provide better education than district schools in the same neighborhoods. My subjective impression is that she is just looking for an elective office and is not dedicated to education and would jump for what she considers a 'higher' office as soon as one is available. I am also very disturbed about megabucks coming from billionaires including the NYC mayor who has never stepped inside a Los Angeles classroom. The schools in his city are not so wonderful so why is he diverting his attention 3000 miles away? Because a clique of billionaires and some ordinary millionaires are attempting once again to control the district. Just because you've been to school doesn't make you an education expert. Some of the billionaire boys' club are just anti-union and Zimmer, a teacher is a member of UTLA. Therefore I have sent money to Zimmer and will not only vote for him, I have been urging my friends and acquaintances to do the same.
LA Momma March 03, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Agree, Deborah. Since when is being pro union a bad thing? Thanks to the unions, we enjoyed a better quality of life in Los Angeles than anywhere else for a long long time. How soon we forget
Deborah Lashever March 04, 2013 at 08:25 AM
Read this about why billionaires form other cities are funding Kate Anderson: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/los-angeles-public-education_b_2798894.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#.UTQc_h3Jamc.facebook
LA Momma March 05, 2013 at 04:32 AM
I met Steve Zimmer a few months ago when he was feeding homeless kids. There was no press, no major donors around, much less parents - these were throw away kids and Steve was there for them. I think that says a LOT about his character and how you can expect him to care about *all*of the students. Not jus a few, not just those whose parents complain the loudest, but those for whom NO ONE speaks. Plus, he was a teacher. If goodness and public service don't earn your vote, then public education is really in trouble.


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