Our mission is to engage, educate, and activate public school parents to advocate for excellent, equitable public education at their schools, in their communities, with elected representatives, and at the ballot box.
It’s been a long and contentious election season, but there’s been one inspiring, unsung aspect that sets this election apart from any other school board race we have seen in Los Angeles: Speak UP members have created a powerful grassroots movement of parents rising up to demand change on May 16.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, we want to celebrate our Speak UP moms from all kinds of LAUSD schools – traditional neighborhood schools, charters, pilots, magnets and dual language immersion schools – who have joined together to knock on doors and call voters to get out the word about Nick Melvoin and his kids-first agenda.
Mothers make all kinds of sacrifices for their kids, and Speak UP moms have given up countless weekend and evening hours with their own kids in order to help create positive change in the lives of all kids in Los Angeles. We are in awe.
And now we need to finish the job by getting out the vote for Nick and by going to the polls ourselves to cast our votes on Tuesday.
I want a board member that will combat this animosity and the “us-versus-them” attitude the board has adopted. I want a board member that will work to regain the trust of parents and stakeholders in public education. Unpredictability is the albatross of our profession. Yet, it seems to be the only constant. I believe Nick Melvoin will demonstrate the consistency and predictability public schools crave through transparency, collaboration and innovation that will regain public trust in LAUSD.
A whole lot of children on this planet don’t even get to go to school, let alone know the difference between “charter” and “traditional.” A school is a school. I’m tired of the us-versus-them policies of LAUSD. That’s a distinction that gets far too much attention, taking away time and effort from other issues that matter more to children.
Attrition out of traditional LAUSD schools is not being stopped by LAUSD’s practice of pinching charters into difficult and uncertain conditions. It’s a failed policy. You can’t use negative tactics to achieve a positive outcome. The key to maintaining enrollment in LAUSD schools is to provide good schools and good experiences. If you build it, they will come.
At Westport Heights, the library is closed. It has been closed since the school year started. The librarian is missing in action, and no one is there to staff it. The parents are not allowed to volunteer to keep it open for our kids because of some bureaucratic labor rule that prevents the library from opening without school staff.
So all the kids at Westport Heights have been without a library the entire school year. They can’t read or borrow the books or even study in the library space that’s in the heart of their school. It’s tragic, and the ones that suffer are the students that attend the community school.
Speak UP is excited to announce that Allison Holdorff Polhill has joined the organization as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach and will focus primarily on efforts to help get Nick Melvoin elected in the May 16 run-off election for LAUSD Board District 4.
As a new school administrator, I often struggled with tough decisions until I discussed the difficulty with my sister-in-law. A professor of early childhood education and school director, she shared with me her rules for decision-making: Put children first, teachers second and parents third. Parents might quibble with that order, but I chose to focus my leadership on the first priority: kids. While it did not always make me popular, I never regretted making a child-first decision.
As a parent and grandmother looking at the upcoming school board election, I see that Nick Melvoin agrees with me: Children must come first. For that reason, I will vote for him on May 16. Decisions made by the Los Angeles Board of Education have left the schools in my local district in complete disarray, with special interest politics driving the decision-making process. I believe Nick has what it takes to create new solutions to age-old problems.
I will never forget the day my 4th-grade daughter came home distraught because she witnessed her favorite teacher break down in the middle of the class. LAUSD was in the midst of a fiscal crisis, and the least senior teachers at many schools were being laid off first. My daughter's amazing teacher had been at our elementary school for only two years. Despite being an inspirational and a compassionate teacher, she was let go.
My daughter was taught by various substitute teachers for the next two months. This was a critical time when they should have been taking practice CSAT tests and getting the kids prepared. Not having a consistent teacher in the classroom caused stress in the 4th grade class, and the average student score plummeted 100 points on the exam from the year before.
I have hope that change is possible. I can see a future where parents are partners -- a future in which the school board, district administrators, teachers, parents and pupils are all working together as a team with one common goal: doing what’s best for the kids.
That vision is why I’m voting for Nick Melvoin for school board on May 16. I do not believe that one man with one seat on the board is going to change the world, and all our challenges will simply vanish. But I strongly believe that electing Nick is where we start. We need a leader that embraces parents as partners and promises to put children first. I pledge to vote for Nick Melvoin to LAUSD BD4 and do my part in making our schools the best they can be.
The mission of Speak UP is to engage, educate and activate parents and community members to advocate for excellent, equitable public education at their children’s schools, in their communities, with elected representatives and at the ballot box.