What About a Road Map for the Parents Union?By Ari L. Noonan @ 9:00 AM May 29, 2012
Isn’t it intriguing how swiftly perspectives can liquify?
Last night it felt so good and right. At noon today in the sunlight, not nearly as translucent.
This was the eye-rubbing distinction between a first date and the day(light) after.
In the glint of moonlight, she shined like gold. On thinking back the following day, maybe her plainness profited from a shadowy paint job.
President Steven Levin, left, and parent activist Scott Kecken
Five evenings ago when about 80 Culver City parents collected in a spacious, nondescript, primitively lighted backyard to meld into the first mom-and-dad union in decades, the mission, undeniably, felt noble and clean.
The preliminary portion of the two hours allotted for getting acquainted with fellow prospective members of the United Parents of Culver City (unitedparentsculvercity.com) was stuffed with harmless bantering and socializing.
Could have been a wedding reception. Or a bar mitzvah. Only good cheer abounded all over the grass.
Overwhelmingly, the sentiment was that a red-white-and-blue cause – standing up for students – was being vigorously embraced. And wasn’t it about time?
A few minutes before 7:30, it became a horse race between Interim President Steve Levin, standing on a moderately stable folding chair to be heard, and Mom Nature, who needed no furniture assistance, to see who would exert more influence over the flock faster.
Ms. Nature sketched darkness well before Mr. Levin read off his three motions to the mainly agreeable crowd. For those who love their grassroots, this irresistible ambience enhanced the specialness of the occasion.
Two pungent feelings, ringing with purity of purpose, streaked through the crowd:
• Isn’t it wonderful that we, who represent all public schools in Culver City, are, at this moment, molding ourselves into an effective, unambiguous political instrument?
• We cannot rely on the School Board, the School District or the unions to advocate for and defend our children. That is why we are uniting, banding together tonight to be an always-reliable voice for our children.
Based on last Thursday, there is ample gas in their tank.
But where is the Parents Union vehicle going to take them?
Except for certain members of the School Board, the Teachers Union and the Assn. of Classified Employees, an impressive number of people think it is a capital idea,
What does that mean?
Will they gain a peer’s seat at the negotiating table when the next dispute arises?
What will they need to do between now and September to walk into the new school term with parity and almost instant respect that they can translate into clout?
Traveling in virgin territory, the Parents Union will need to be daring, aggressive, creative and diplomatic – all in the same basket – to forge a difference.
One of the fascinated and fascinating visitors to the organizational party was Jessica Jacobs, who is seeking to start a sui generis charter school, the Innovatory School for Professional Youth, here in the coming months.
Ms. Jacobs’s analysis:
“After hearing some banter around town, I expected the parent meeting to be more hostile than it came across.
“While I attended hoping to make connections (and I did), I also saw myself there as a parent. Laura (Chardiet of the School Board) told me that 12 percent of the population votes in School Board elections.
“An organization like this parent group could provide the needed motivation to increase the turnout.
“Despite folks from seemingly all camps in attendance, everyone seemed to play nice. They respected one another's opinions.
“The tone was informal even though you could feel the effort to be the opposite.
“As an outsider, I do wonder why only two School Board members – the two this group supports – were present.
“If I were one of the group’s targets, one of the other three Board members, I would have shown up.
“By the end of the evening, I was glad to have been a part of it. Overall, I am so impressed with the small town feel of a city adjacent to Los Angeles.”