Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Debating BOE over lunch with Isaac

So Isaac Garcia, Steve Gerow and I went to lunch on Yesterday and compared notes. Here are our early returns:

Seat 2: Mastromatteo (very involved PUSD parent)
Seat 4: Bibbiani (incumbent; often a dissenting voice)
Sear 6: Martinez (community leader with a diverse perspective)

Seat 2: Mastromatteo (very involved PUSD parent)
Seat 4: Harrison (very involved PUSD parent; associated with PEF)
Sear 6: Martinez (community leader with a diverse perspective)


Capsule summary of discussion:

We all agreed that being an active and current PUSD parent is a big plus. Generally agree that diversity is important. All agree that debate and dissent is healthy. Generally agree that having a majority of trustees backed by a single private organization (Pasadena Education Foundation) could lead to an imbalance of power.

Given these shared opinions, seats two and six are pretty easy choices. Seat four leaves us split, with me coming down more on the side of the "PUSD parent" factor, and Isaac coming down more on the side of the "dissent is good" factor.

I'm sure I totally misrepresented Isaac, not to mention Steve, but hey, when you own the press... oh wait... this is a blog...


  1. I don't think it's fair to say "backed by PEF". The Pasadena Educational Foundation is a non-profit set up to support the school district with money (by soliciting grants that PUSD can't solicit) and additional expertise. People get involved in PEF because they want to support PUSD - though maybe they want to work in an environment that circumvents the bureaucracy, or contribute to an organization that will use their money more efficiently for the kids of PUSD instead of the administration.

    So to say that because some one has volunteered for PEF they are "backed by a private organization" seems to give it a sinister flavor that seems unfair. PEF doesn't back anybody and in fact their board members are all over the map on who they are backing in the BOE races. For instance, a number of both Bibbiani's and Harrison's biggest supporters are advisors to or members of the PEF Board.

  2. Good point, Neal. I guess the fact that Harrison and Selinski both put former PEF president on their qualifications is enough to at least establish a close association.

    As an anonymous neighbor emailed me today, "My concern with candidates who have mainly been involved with PEF or PTA is that their focus may have been more on the fund raising aspect of parent involvement and education. We need board members who can understand the educational issues we are dealing with and who can make good policy decisions. I wish more of the candidates had been involved in Site Councils in their schools."

    The thing is, who demonstrates that they fit this requirement better than Harrison for instance? Bibb? Albert? Lewis? I think being a super involved parent gives a candidate valuable front lines exposure.

  3. I agree that being an involved parent shows a level of commitment that is a prerequisite for the hard sloggin ahead for the Board. The fact that a candidate lists their work for PEF shows that they have a close association, but not necessarily a specific agenda, anymore than the fact that a candidate worked hard as a voluntter for their child's school, or the PTA necessarily demonstrates a particular point of view. I also think that the primary work of the Board is financial - budget decisions are going to predominate. Educational expertise should reside in the staff - teachers and administrators, all the way up to the superintendent - and not necessarily in the Board. They need to be able to direct and supervise the Superintendent, not micromanage the educational decisions. So I think that your neighbor's point is misdirected. that financial focus, and especially to the extent that is "got things done" is maybe just what we're looking for...