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CVUSD School Board Candidates Speak: Karen Meyer

Karen Meyer, retired CVUSD employee, meyer4trustee.com

Service: Five years working with at-risk youth living in the Culver City projects provided tutoring, community outreach programs, educational field trips and one-on-one mentoring for students aged 9 to 18. I learned that if you expect more from children, they rise to that level of expectation and often exceed those expectations.

Room mom and field trip chaperone for both my children while they attended Acacia elementary school.

Volunteered at Redwood MS as color guard president, organizing practices and performances, redesigned and made new flags, took photographs of students and events, and printed a full-color book for every participant showing the accomplishments of the color guard that year.

Volunteered with Redwood MS Band helping with fundraising and chaperoning. Volunteered with the Westlake Color Guard, chaperoning the team for off-campus performances.

I worked as a full-time employee at CVUSD for 15 years at Westlake High School while volunteering at Acacia Elementary, Redwood MS and Westlake HS.

Between my personal experiences raising two children in our district and working with at-risk children, I have a personal understanding of parental expectations/concerns and the issues and challenges of Hispanic and Black children that I can bring to the position of trustee.

The 15 years I worked for our district make me uniquely qualified for the position of trustee. I know the history, the culture and the background of this district from an insider’s point of view. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the district. I’ve seen what worked and what didn’t work. I want to bring that knowledge to the board to avoid the mistakes of the past in making policies and decisions in the future.

I’m retired, which gives me the time necessary to perform the duties of a trustee. Parents today often do double duty, working and raising a family. I’ve been a working parent and know firsthand the demands on your time and the challenges of juggling a career and parenting.

Our district needs strong, involved and responsive leadership. I have watched as our district experienced declining enrollment, a surge in failing grades and the gradual erosion of parental rights. Parents, students and staff have expressed that they do not feel safe on campus. As a trustee, I want to upgrade security on all our campuses. I want to return our schools to the level of educational excellence my children experienced by stressing core subjects. I want to give parents a reason to bring students back to CVUSD. My goal is to be a partner with all parents to provide a rigorous education, raise grading standards and provide equal opportunities to every student in our district to succeed at whatever path they choose after graduation. My background, my experience, and my commitment to the parents and students of this district to provide a safe, inclusive, supportive environment in which to learn are the reasons to vote for me as area 3 trustee.

[The most pressing issues and their solutions]

1. Declining enrollment. Our district has gone from approx. 22,000 students to 16,000 students over the past few years. The district thought this was due to a drop in families with children in the district. It’s clear now that a large percentage of this problem is parents opting out of our public schools to home school or enroll their students in private or parochial schools. In addition, the surge in families leaving California for other states has only added to the problem.

The real question is, why are parents fleeing our public schools and California? I think the answer is simple. Politics. Our public schools have been invaded by political ideologies that most parents do not agree with. We need to remove politics from the classroom and get back to the true reason for public schools, providing a quality education for the students in the community. My solution is to remove as much political interference as possible from our schools. Emphasize education history, science, English and mathematics without weaving political agendas through the curriculum.

2. Parental rights. This is actually two issues in one. The first is the idea that school administration is co-parenting our students and therefore has a right to make medical, mental health and moral decisions without parental consent. Even more distressing is the district’s internal requirement that teachers and staff lie to parents regarding the on-campus activities of students. Training has been provided to teach employees how to lie to parents. We currently have severe penalties for students who commit academic dishonesty – yet district-wide dishonesty is not only permitted but encouraged. How do we instill honesty in students who know the district condones teachers and staff lying to parents?

My solution is if parents learn of a staff person or teacher who deceived them or ignored their wishes regarding their student, that employee will be disciplined to the fullest extent possible, with penalties increasing in severity for additional infractions.

The second half of parental rights is the disturbing trend in our district to listen to the desires of certain parents that the administration and the board agree with. This disenfranchises a majority of parents. My solution is to listen to ALL parents and make decisions that will take the concerns of every parent into consideration before implementing any policies or changes to curricula.

3. Teacher support. I have spoken with many teachers, both currently employed and retired. In so doing, I have discovered an alarming fact. Teachers are being forced to teach political and sexual topics that they are uncomfortable with. Because of this, many experienced teachers are retiring early. Teachers feel they are not trained to be clinical psychologists, gender specialists or sex therapists. They got into teaching because they wanted to teach young minds the subjects necessary to be well-educated, informed adults. Teachers’ love of teaching their chosen subject has been hijacked in favor of pushing political ideology.

The saddest part of this is that the administration disciplines teachers who refuse to teach these topics or try to limit what they teach. Administration is currently requiring every teacher to include 15 minutes of every class for social-emotional learning, one of the pillars of CRT (Critical Race Theory). That takes precious time away from the actual course of study. My solution is to support teachers in their desire to teach their students the subject they were hired to teach. Leave sex ed, gender confusion and medical decisions up to the professionals who have been trained to deal with those issues. Eliminate those teachings from the classroom, so students get the full benefit of learning the appropriate curriculum.

Present leadership has failed to address any of these issues. One incumbent has publicly stated that declining enrollment is the result of a lack of housing. How do you explain that housing has increased slowly over the years, but the biggest decline in enrollment has been in the last two years? The present board listened to countless parents, qualified experts and concerned community members who spoke at board meetings but voted 5-0 to approve the very thing that was spoken against, ignoring the concerns of those who took the time to speak.

The job of the board is to represent the wishes of the parents and taxpayers in the district and make decisions that reflect those wishes. The board’s primary job is to do what is best for all the students under their guardianship. Present leadership has not done that. Instead, they have bowed to political pressure from special interest groups, disenfranchised many parents, allowed unnecessary ideology and age-inappropriate teachings into the classroom, and driven experienced, qualified teachers into early retirement.

Present leadership is very good at virtue signaling, talking about all the school events they attended, the performance of our sports teams and how great they think the district is doing. They praise the students who have done well in school, groups that have formed within the schools to address specific issues and the teachers who exemplify what teachers should be.

They have perfected the art of the unanimous 5-0 vote on issues brought to them by administration — amazingly, without the need to discuss them publicly, ask clarifying questions or delve deeper into the issues presented. They are quite good at following the administration’s wishes in everything presented to them, and they excel in the art of listening with emotional detachment to parents who present well-thought-out, genuine, heartfelt concerns for their children.

I believe in and support public schools. I am not transphobic or homophobic. I support age-appropriate sex education to eliminate teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. I do not support Critical Race Theory or its inclusion in K-12 classrooms. I am against lowering grading standards to make it easier to achieve passing grades. I support equal opportunity, not equal outcome. I believe we should be teaching students how to think — not what to think.

I believe every parent has the right to do what they think is right for their children as long as it does not negatively affect other children or trample other parents’ family values and morals. I believe some student issues deserve professional medical care that should be provided to students with full parental knowledge and involvement. Those issues should be confidential and addressed privately. I do not believe that the government should be involved in education. I believe in the education triangle: parents, teachers, and students working together to achieve educational excellence.

I will listen to ALLparents and take their concerns into consideration when making decisions or board policies. Parents and the community should be confident that I will listen to ALLstakeholders equally, make decisions that will benefit our community, be fair and attentive to concerns brought to my attention, refuse to allow special interest groups to dictate policy, and always make decisions that are in the best interest of our students and their education.

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