The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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What have I learned?

By Pam Brady

For twelve years I have had the privilege and honor to serve as a school board member for the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education.

I have learned that participating in democracy at the local level is an extremely worthwhile experience. Our incredible form of government allows ordinary people to be elected and to have the opportunity to do extraordinary things, all in the name of public service.

I have learned that despite the fact that California is the fifth largest economy in the world, it is ranks 38th in the nation in what it is willing to spend per student on K-12 public education and 48th in expenditures per $1,000 of personal income. California ranks #1 in the population of students and expects all its students to graduate with a first class education, but as a state it is only willing to support it with 2nd class financing.

I have learned dollar for dollar this is not one person's problem, but rather it belongs to all of us. It will change when the political will of Californians recognizes and demands that the state step up to the plate.

I have learned that despite California's lack of adequate funding for public education, our local community members are champions of public education and each day many continually give time, energy, expertise and resources to our local schools.

I have learned that in the state of California our district is exceptional for a multitude of reasons.

I have learned that our teachers, administrators and support staff are committed well beyond the call of duty or required hours in their devotion of preparing all students to be successful in a global society. Without a doubt they are the most talented, educated and dedicated staff in any district in California. Be proud of them and tell them so!

I have learned that the parents, community members, higher education and local businesses continue to work non-stop in supporting the high quality of work in our district. The connection between home, school, higher education and world of work is incredibly alive and well in this district.

I have learned that our local state and federal legislators and city government officials are unique in their commitment to do what ever it takes to ensure the continuation of a quality K-14 education for our communities.

I have learned that the voices of children are heard but not always listened to, and so it is imperative that community members continue to hold their elected officials to high standards and accountability. We must expect no less from adults than what we expect from our children.

I have learned that each of you has the power to ensure the success of those you elect. When you engage in the process after an election, you ensure that those elected continue to represent the interests of the people. It really does take the whole village to raise a child, but more importantly it takes you remembering that you are one of the villagers and with that comes an obligation to engage after the ballot box.

I have learned to listen to each of you and in particular to those whose point of view is different and sometimes more difficult for me to see and/or understand. I thank you all for being willing to take the time to educate me by sharing your thoughts, concerns, frustrations and questions. Thank you for your calls, faxes, e-mails, letters and stopping me in the supermarket for a chat. It is this process that has held me accountable and allowed me to stay real and in touch with your views and issues.

I have learned from all of you that you never really expected me to be perfect, only that I remained accessible, kept an open mind, did my homework and always had the interest of the children at the forefront of any decision.

I have learned that even when you choose to retire from a school board, particularly when it's the school district you attended as a child, it is hard to say goodbye. But most importantly, I have learned to say thank you for the privilege, trust and opportunity to represent you and the interest of our children!

May you all have a joyous Thanksgiving with those you love!


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