Letters to the Editor

DEI Should Be Part of a Whole Education
DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) is necessary, and I am counting on LCUSD to provide a “world-class education” for my children. In order to do that, we need to think outside the box and intentionally enlist different perspectives from people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We need to be prepared for the world with true knowledge about how the world works (good and bad). We are all capable of greatness; we just need the opportunity.
We have an ugly history, but why not truly learn about it so we don’t repeat history. Recently, I read a survey of high school graduates from all over the country about their U.S. history experience and they reported that it provided breadth but no depth. I know this from my own experience with the new science standards because they create a space for students to think and be inquisitive about everything. This is especially important in our world today.
My experience in science shows me we need to change who the pioneers are that we learn about in all fields, but especially STEM. It took until 2016 to learn about “Hidden Figures,” the Black women who were hired as human computers that helped us get to the moon. In 2017, “Rise of the Rocket Girls” told the world of the women who helped create JPL and worked on America’s first ballistic missiles and space exploration. STEM fields still struggle to recruit and retain women, and this starts at the elementary level and society.
DEI is not a political issue, it’s a human issue. Learning, growing, evolving is necessary and making it part of our education is imperative. The information is out there to help LCUSD make a difference in providing our students a more diverse and inclusive perspective, a well-rounded experience, so they can go out and be the change we need in society, not the problem. When we include DEI as part of education, we will empower our children to be the best version of themselves and help them be ready for their future.

Amy Nespor, Ph.D.
La Cañada Flintridge

Dispelling the Myths of DEI
DEI should not be dividing our community. We need to understand that DEI is not scary or threatening.
Some myths dispelled:
1) DEI does not equal affirmative action for our children. We are a public school, educating children in our community. There are no slots allotted for outsiders based on race and DEI will not do this.
2) This is not about bringing outsiders in. DEI is not about busing or scholarships. We are a public school. This is about those of us who are here being heard, feeling welcome and safe.
3) This is about making sure our histories are told. I want my kids to learn about Mamie Tape, not at the exclusion of what is usually taught, but to include these stories.
4) The DEI report from Christina Hale-Elliott focused on 2 things: 1) stop fostering a fear of silence (we need to be able to speak up when people are racist, sexist, etc.) and 2) hire more people of color to reflect our racial composition (in LC it’s 30% Asian). This means that when my kids are told to “go back to where they came from” — especially if it comes from a prominent community member’s child — other children and teachers will be empowered to say “that’s racist” and not fear for their job or backlash from other kids. It means hiring more Asians in leadership positions and making sure that Latinos are not only in food services and grounds maintenance.
5) Restorative justice in our community means that when students in our school district call other students demeaning names, our district will facilitate the two groups sitting together and discussing why such behavior is hurtful and harmful. This is the alternative to expulsion or suspension. It is already being done at many other prominent schools, such as Poly. This practice has simply been given a name and now that name is being used by people who want to engender fear.
I urge you to think about who you will be voting for in our local election. We need people to unify our community — no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. Any spread of misinformation is a dirty tactic to divide us.

Patty Whong
LCHS class of 1993

Epstein Knows the Power of Local, Sustainable Funding for Schools
In a state like California where tax revenues and subsequent funding for public schools can fluctuate dramatically from year to year, it is imperative that public school districts have reliable and local means to supplement public funding. As someone who has spearheaded local parcel tax efforts in support of our public schools, I know first-hand how important and how challenging these initiatives can be — requiring a 2/3 majority of voters to sign on.
Just over six months ago, Josh Epstein served as co-chair of our most recent parcel tax campaign. Under his leadership, this initiative passed with a 70% majority, raising in perpetuity about $2.5 million per year for our public schools. Prior to this successful ballot measure, Josh also co-chaired the 2017 bond measure, which generated $149 million in locally controlled funding, without increasing the current tax rate, to repair and update classrooms and school facilities, and help qualify LCUSD for state matching funds.
These campaigns are a true labor of love. Love for the community and love for our schools. Josh Epstein has the passion and love for our schools and our community to be the best choice for a position on the LCUSD Governing Board.

Barry Reed
Chair, 2009 and 2014 LCUSD Parcel Tax Committees

Support Arnold on Behalf of the Kids
Nineteen years ago when my husband and I were deciding where to buy a house and raise a family, there was no doubt that it was going to be La Cañada. We have loved raising our kids here for the schools, the community and the friends we have made. We have been very involved from the start with our time and resources and are proud of LCUSD and all that it has accomplished and strives to do for its students. I want this tradition of excellence to continue, and that is why I am writing in support of Jeremiah Arnold.
I had the fortunate opportunity to meet with Jeremiah about a month ago. I could not be happier that I took the time. He immediately impressed me with his story that included struggles and triumphs in school, work and family. He is a successful businessman who knows the importance of fiscal responsibility, is a strong negotiator, works well with others and knows how to quickly ascertain what is working and what is not. But what really struck me was how humble he is. It is rare to find an individual who has accomplished all that he has but remains humble. All of these attributes are what we need on our school board: a goal-oriented, clear-thinking person who will not lose sight of what is important for the kids. This is the kind of person our school board needs.
Jeremiah’s vision for LCUSD is perfectly aligned with what makes LCUSD so great … academic excellence where all students feel safe to share different points of view, heritage, experiences, etc., so that all students can become critical thinkers and responsible citizens of their community, country and world. This is why my parents moved here in 1973 and why my husband and I moved here in 2002, and I have no doubt that this is what every parent strives for in this community. The kids need someone like Jeremiah working every day to ensure they are receiving the best education possible in the best possible environment. He has proven through his success as an entrepreneur that he works very well with others to accomplish goals. Jeremiah Arnold is absolutely our best choice for school board. Please join me in supporting him so that our kids will continue to receive an excellent education in an environment that fosters growth. Our kids need us!

Julie Milbrodt
La Cañada Flintridge

Endorsing Caroline Anderson for School Board
In the La Cañada School Board election, one candidate stands out to me for the depth of her involvement and commitment to our schools and our community, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share my support for Caroline Anderson for school board.
In reviewing her history as it relates to the support of our schools, it is nothing short of amazing: from her hands-on classroom support as a room parent for many years; to her involvement with the PTA (currently serving as president at Palm Crest Elementary); and her ongoing work with the La Cañada Educational Foundation as a board member for six years, president, and gala chair, and so, so many other positions and contributions too numerous to list.
I cannot think of anyone more involved in multiple aspects of our schools. However, her volunteerism and contributions to La Cañada Flintridge go beyond her work for the school district. Her outreach extends beyond LCUSD to our community at large.
I met Caroline when I was running for City Council and I was immediately impressed by her energy, organizational skills, and “let’s get it done” attitude, backed up by her hard work! I felt so fortunate to have her as part of my team. Her outreach into our community was obvious and she clearly had the respect of those who knew her and had worked beside her and I feel fortunate to consider myself part of that group. Having grown up in La Cañada Flintridge, she has a deep-rooted feel for our community and an extensive network, which you all know is extremely valuable when trying to further advance the quality of our schools.
In addition, as a Chinese American and active member of the La Cañada Chinese Club, her representation of our Chinese families brings a welcome diversity to our school board and can play a vital role in further engaging the Chinese community in our schools and in our city.
As a City Councilwoman, I believe the City Council and the school board enjoy a very productive and mutually supportive working relationship, which is so important to the cohesiveness of our community. Having worked with Caroline, I feel confident that her election to the board would further enhance that relationship, and I would more than welcome the opportunity to work with her.
I cannot imagine another candidate with Caroline’s proven track record of hard work and dedication to not only our schools but to our community as a whole. She is up for this challenge and has the background and experience to be a contributing and impactful member of the school board. It is my sincere pleasure and honor to endorse Caroline for school board, and I strongly urge you to join me in voting for Caroline.

Terry Walker
La Cañada Flintridge
City Councilwoman

Candidate Josh Epstein Is a Community Builder
My husband Ali and I came to La Cañada Flintridge in 2008, when our son was just a baby and the world came into sharp focus, as it tends to when we become parents. We knew that LCF schools enjoyed a strong reputation, which prompted our home search here and this gem of a community, so small-town peaceful and so un-L.A., captured our hearts the moment we took the exit at Foothill.
This sense of community that sold us on LCF does not happen by accident. The actual community that powers our everyday lives is here because there are those working hard at making LCF what it is. It is the volunteers who coach the teams, den and troop leaders, PTA, LCFEF, and many others who make up the army of doers in this community, all working toward building and sustaining LCF. That coming together of community is responsible for what LCF promises to all of us, a fantastic place to live for our families and excellent schools for our children.
Josh Epstein is an especially notable community builder, who has worked tirelessly at making sure that our schools offer outstanding opportunities to our kids. For the last decade, he has been involved in every major part of the system that supports our schools on a leadership level. In these roles, Josh has enthusiastically dedicated his time to advocating for the students of this district.
On a personal level, Josh is thoughtful, principled and considerate. He’s not one to be in the front, talking the loudest, but when he does speak, he conveys an astute understanding of the issues, a deliberate and conscientious approach, and the willingness to be open to all perspectives. His empathy and appreciation for nuance contributes a valuable voice to district matters on behalf of all students. Join me and the many La Cañadans who know and believe in Josh. He is the most capable candidate, and he is the clear choice for LCUSD School Board.

Sunyoung Fahimi
La Cañada Flintridge
Former member of LCFEF Executive Board and LCFEF
Endowment Board of Trustees

Jeremiah Arnold for School Board

Of all the choices voters are required to make this November, one stands out as having a tangible, definitive impact on this community: Which individual will the citizens of La Cañada Flintridge elect to the school board?
La Cañada is fortunate to have talented and respected board members and school administrators. However, even the best organizations are prone to suffer from groupthink and a, “this is how it’s always been” bias where a new perspective is warranted. Some examples include:
Despite execrable restrooms, outdated classrooms and enough discarded chewing gum on school property to sink the Titanic, the top priority for bond monies is … a pool.
Given the COVID pandemic and the daily challenge students and parents face from distance learning, a top 2020-21 priority is implantation of a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” program.
Significant gaps in instruction exist, particularly with the high school math program, which results in students eschewing higher level coursework and parents spending large sums on tutors.
While not an indictment against what is largely a solid school district, it’s clear an outside voice with fresh ideas is warranted. To this end La Cañada should elect Jeremiah Arnold. Having spoken at length with Jeremiah and heard others speak about him, it’s clear that he will bring a new voice and new ideas to the district.
With this election, what happens in Washington, D.C., is important, but what happens in La Cañada is far more so. Elect Jeremiah Arnold to make this occur.

Andy Decker
La Cañada Flintridge

Epstein Has Positive Vision for Schools
There are few things more important in our community than our public schools, so I take the upcoming school board election very seriously. With all the challenges currently facing our schools, and the growing tensions in our society, I think it is important to be especially scrupulous this year about how we cast our ballots in this important election.
Candidates should be able to articulate a positive vision for our schools, but that’s not enough. They should also be able to demonstrate their ability to turn that vision into a reality. It concerns me when I see a candidate stoke agitation around issues, but who cannot provide evidence of the work they’ve ever done to address those concerns prior to running a political campaign.
But longevity isn’t everything. I’m also skeptical when I see candidates who have been involved in our schools for many years, but still lack that positive track record. School board members must be independent thinkers and analytical. They must persuade one another, district leadership and the community if they are to effect any change or provide real leadership. No matter how hard-working, well-intentioned or right a single school board member may be, our students are not served if that individual cannot bring people together and move the district in the right direction.
That’s why I’ve ultimately decided to vote for Josh Epstein. Josh represents exactly what our school district needs right now. We know he has the capacity to work with every part of our community to serve the kids of La Cañada Flintridge, because he’s done that. He doesn’t just go along to get along. He pushes the district to improve — and then he is a productive partner in bringing that improvement to fruition. He will be a huge asset to the district, so please mark your ballot for Josh Epstein.

Paris Cohen
La Cañada Flintridge

Best Candidates for Our Students

After speaking with school board candidates, watching their public interviews and reviewing their public statements, I believe that our school district will be best served by Josh Epstein and Belinda Randolph. Both candidates are knowledgeable, informed, transparent, and have offered concrete solutions about steps that should be taken to make our school district a better school district for all of its stakeholders and, most importantly, for all of its students. I am proud to formally endorse Josh and Belinda.

Kim Hershman
La Cañada Flintridge

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