Letters to the Editor

Opinion About Advocates
It appears that those advocating the diversity plan in our schools are more interested in teaching kids what to think rather than how to think.

Trent Sanders
La Cañada Flintridge

DEI Consultant Thanks Community for Its Support
I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the many members of the greater La Cañada Unified School District community who have extended their support over the past several weeks — support for me, but more importantly, for the critical work of cultivating equitable spaces for learning where every student is seen, supported and feels a sense of belonging. Through the letters to the editor, comments during school board meetings and direct emails, students, parents, staff, alumni and community members have raised their voices in support of a humanizing approach to education, echoing the findings that emerged from the nearly yearlong strengths and needs assessment that I conducted in my role as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant with LCUSD during the 2019-20 school year.
I appreciate the courage it takes to share personal experiences of marginalization, inequities and trauma. Please know that you have been heard. I also recognize that these stories may not coincide with others’ experiences within the district. Building on the body of research surrounding restorative practices, and acknowledging that two things can be true at the same time, I am hopeful that opportunities for listening, healing and empathy-building emerge, coupled with forward movement and systemic changes.
While the next steps of this work are still being solidified, I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have had thus far to partner with the La Cañada Flintridge community. Thank you for your trust and your time.

Christina Hale-Elliott
Founder, Elliott Educational Services

DEI Should Include Diversity of Thought
I was pleased to hear LCUSD’s Wendy Sinnette vocalize her unwavering commitment to protect all students during the recent board meeting addressing the DEI initiative.
I agree, we desperately need robust guidance about inclusion:
• To protect diversity of thought and civil debate between peers and parents
• To protect against bullying those who study and honor existing history
• To protect the right to question media narratives not always based in fact
• To protect against manufactured, separatist philosophies and tactics that divide neighbors based on race, gender, religion or political affiliation
• To protect against slander and harassment between strangers and friends, prompted by mere difference of opinion
I welcome learning how the proposed DEI program will be implemented to serve every LCF family, to help all students feel safe and individually valued within our beacon of a community — whether one is leading a dialogue about racial injustice or wearing a T-shirt that reads “Back the Blue.” Because right now, there are also countless, non-surveyed, silent students who are petrified to openly question why public violence is no longer punishable by law or even reveal they registered to vote as a Republican –- for deep fear of being misjudged by beloved teachers or unjustly canceled by peers who snub dialogue that contradicts a one-sided world view.
I applaud LCUSD’s fervor to foster unity and protect all our kids, in partnership with parents, and treat everyone with respect regardless of skin color or politics. If DEI also promises to include, guard, defend and champion diversity of educated thought, then we need it now more than ever.

Jill Simonian
La Cañada Flintridge

Opening LCHS Did No Harm
I would like to encourage all parents in the La Cañada Unified School District read Ms. Hale-Elliot’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strengths and Needs Assessment: Final Report, and the Recommendations for Sustainability: Final Report. I would also encourage folks to watch the YouTube meeting where she presented these findings and recommendations to the LCUSD board.
After her year-plus long study, her first and “really important” recommendation is for us to “Formally acknowledge, reckon with and work to heal from the role of ‘White Flight’ and systemic racism in the districts founding.” (Page 1 of the Recommendations for Sustainability: Final Report.). Just for information, LCHS opened in 1963, according to a 1985 L.A. Times article and Wikipedia. She found an old newspaper ad and presented them at 34:10 into her YouTube presentation. She focused on two statements, “Don’t pay for other people’s problems” and “Gear our school system to conform to the abilities, aptitudes, and IQs of this community’s youngsters.” She concluded these two statements contained “… very coded language that never explicitly came out and said anything about race as being a factor in why the district needed to educate high school students in house.” She continues by saying that it was “a message around what the thought was about students at John Muir High School.”
So, I’m concluding that Hale-Elliot is saying that we should not have opened LCHS and that our kids should be going to John Muir High School. Somehow, this was “anti-Black racism” (Recommendations for Sustainability, page 5) even though she stated that there was no explicit language about race in opening LCHS in her verbal presentation, just “coded language” in the above two statements. She wants us to heal by partnering with Pasadena Unified School District (Recommendations for Sustainability, bottom of page 5) using the restorative justice principles. Apparently, the opening of LCHS hurt PUSD in 1963; so, we must atone for that using restorative justice.
I don’t believe we created any harm in completing the formation of the school district in 1963 by opening LCHS. It completed the goal of providing a K-12 education just like any other school district would want to do. To imply any racism based on two statements that could have meant anything is actually prejudicial. Let’s stop using racism to fight racism.

Ed Pham
La Cañada Flintridge

Hoping LCF Can Shift a Little
I moved to La Cañada Flintridge in the summer of 2016. My husband and I grew up in a small town back east, and we looked forward to involving ourselves in the community and getting to know our neighbors. But LCF can be hard … if you aren’t from LCF. And four years later, I better understand why.
We didn’t appreciate, before we moved here, how many people in La Cañada are from La Cañada. On the one hand, that speaks well of the culture, services and support systems here. But the flip side is that many residents have never been “the new kid.” And if you’ve never been the new kid, when do you develop empathy for the new kid? What incentive do you have to reach out and make an effort, to welcome new families into the fold?
For example, after moving here, I sought to add my daughter to a local Girl Scout troop. I thought it would be a good way for me, a newcomer parent, to meet other families. Neither troop in her grade at school would let her in. And no parent in either troop offered to meet with me or with her before making that decision.
The response from the Boy Scouts, for my son, was the same. I was told I would need to start my own pack, in a town where I didn’t know anyone.
Before 2020 showed up and rearranged all of our lives, I physically worked in North Hollywood, unable to attend midmorning PTA meetings. For many new-to-town residents, integration begins with school volunteering, and that’s a hard hurdle to clear if you leave town before the first bell rings. Beyond school, it has been hard to find organizations in LCF that create space for working parents (working mothers, in particular). I can’t hike on Thursdays. I can do Tuesday lunches.
It’s possible I’m the only person in town who has felt this way. But perhaps I’m not. And so I’m taking a gamble and writing this, in the hopes that La Cañada can shift a little, can grow its heart a little, and can become a town that is welcoming to all.

Heather Cochran
La Cañada Flintridge

DEI and Totalitarian Ideology
In her seminal work, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt wrote, “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction and the distinction between true and false no longer exist.”
Today, these words apply through a new totalitarian ideology introduced in our schools in the form of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI).
Safe to say, LCUSD parents believe their child is a unique individual, rejecting the idea their child is anything less or more based on their race. Not so, according to DEI proponents, race defines who we are. Further, according to DEI and its ideological progenitor, “Critical Race Theory,” one’s identity is so shaped by race that even children share stigma and blame for America’s tragic racial history, regardless of their actions or parenting.
If any of this seems disturbingly familiar to Hitlerian race theory, it’s because it is.
Simply put, the goal of DEI is to educate children based on their race, not as unique individuals regardless of race. Using this ill-formed logic, DEI proposes to children that even if they have done nothing wrong, they benefit from a racist system by virtue of their skin color.
Does anyone really believe this? Sadly, LCUSD administrators apparently do.
In addition, debunked historical narratives play a significant role in DEI curriculum. Few deny our tragic racial history and agree work remains toward the goal that “All men are created equal.” DEI refutes this and advocates America to be inherently evil from its foundation due to our representative democracy and capitalist economic system. The only solution, according to DEI advocates, is to destroy both.
Like past totalitarian movements, the institutionalization of evil was not merely due to the malevolent few, but the quiet acquiescence of the uninformed or naive. Do not be included in this group. Education should be built on objective truth and respect for the child’s dignity as a person, not indoctrination centers by incoherent and pernicious ideologies despite beguiling names like “equity” or “anti-racism.”
Do your own research. Review DEI content at LCUSD.net. Contrast your beliefs about the nature of the human person, America’s system of government and economics, our rights under the law, to what DEI advocates. Chances are, the contrast is stark.
To date, parents have had little opportunity for input on DEI plans. Recent board meetings communicated this need yet class materials and district communications show DEI as a current initiative. With this lack of transparency, rather than DEI being a cooperative endeavor between educators and parents, it’s clearly a crusade by those with disturbed political ideologies. Whether this continues rests on this community.

Andy Decker
La Cañada Flintridge

Response to Letter
I am responding to Leonard Tavera’s complaint in the Sept. 10 Letters to the Editor about “unauthorized access” to his email address.
It took me only a few seconds through a Google search to find Leonard Tavera’s public email address at the law firm where he currently has an “active” status. As a lawyer, Leonard Tavera likely knows that unless a government employee is covered by the Hatch Act, or if the sender is representing a commercial business, the act of sending an email is not prohibited or restricted. The goal of any political campaign is not to make enemies or annoy people. All Tavera had to do was ask to be taken off the email list and that would have been the end of it.
So, what was his point in writing that letter to the editor? I assume that Josh Epstein is not Tavera’s first choice of candidate for our school board, and his hope was that publicly heaping shame on local volunteers would somehow reflect badly on this particular candidate.
I — and I expect I am not alone here — am weary of this kind of public whining about non-issues when there are so very many real problems we need to publicly discuss and solve in our community. School board members, candidates and volunteers are concerned local citizens who work hard to make LCF a better community. That message does merit ink and space in the Outlook Valley Sun.

Anne Tryba
La Cañada Flintridge

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