On November 3, 2020, there will be an election to fill the two vacant seats formerly held by Andrew Blumenfeld and Brent Kuszyk on the LCUSD Board of Education. Four candidates will be running for the two empty Governing Board seats: Caroline Anderson, Jeremiah Arnold, Josh Epstein, and Belinda Randolph.
Below are Mrs. Anderson’s responses to our questions.
Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
What makes you unique?
I am distinct from current Governing Board members and the other candidates as the only mom with children attending LCUSD. Being the only mom with children in our schools allows me to see and feel the impact of challenges firsthand and bring a vital perspective that the board is currently missing. I would bring diversity to our board — not just in ethnicity, but diversity in my knowledge base of the district with my background in the PTA, La Canada Education Foundation, and numerous district committees as well as with my relationship with many stakeholders in our community.
How are your plans different from those of the other Governing Board candidates’?
I will represent the changing demographic of La Cañada and serve as the cultural bridge to ensure that all our students, parents, and teachers are represented proactively. I do not want to just represent the voices of under-represented individuals in our community; I want to give a voice to the unrepresented communities in our district. I am a passionate volunteer who believes in being in the trenches and making sure all people are included and have a voice. I have cultivated many relationships and have the respect of many stakeholders in our community. I’ve demonstrated that I can work with a wide array of varying opinions and get things done. I have the ability to step in and seamlessly represent the different segments of our community.
Why do you want to be part of the Governing Board?
Our district has a tremendous foundation that has led us to become one of the top-ranked school districts in California. We need to embrace and celebrate our traditions while still evolving to ensure our students are cutting-edge leaders in our society. I want to help protect and advance our community’s culture of educational excellence.
If you had to summarize your campaign into three main ideas or words, what ideas or words would you use?
Social and emotional wellbeing; diversity, equity and inclusion; and innovation in educational solutions.
What are your thoughts on reopening?
As a member of one of the Reopening Committees, I know that the district is putting all the plans in place to get us back as soon as possible. In the meantime, we need to continue to help our students and teachers progress. How do we take this opportunity to work together and show our kids how to adapt to change and work around difficult situations, making it the best for everyone involved? How do we work together to ensure the best virtual learning experience for everyone until we can reopen? Our goal should be to make our district the best at distance learning.
How can LCUSD improve DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion)?
I applaud the District for starting DEI work over a year ago. We need to make sure that the facts about the District’s DEI initiatives are clear and that the air is not polluted with disinformation. I know conversations regarding DEI and the work that surrounds it are uncomfortable, but it is extremely important that we address this because it enables the district to protect all students and teachers from harassment and bullying. Throughout my campaign, I’ve stated how important it is to be inclusive and collaborative in order to achieve the best possible outcome for every student.
From your perspective, what has the current Governing Board done well?
I believe that the best decisions come from balanced deliberation and a careful examination of the facts. The process and decisions related to the school closure last spring exemplified the Board’s dedication to this philosophy. We did not rush to close school for the entire year right away, but rather made that decision in stages. As we learned more about the nature of COVID-19 and its transmissibility, we made the appropriate decisions to extend the closures to the end of the school year and beyond. This deliberative process continues today, with the Board garnering feedback and advice from the Re-Opening Committees who are examining the options we have to return to school safely.
What aspects of the current Governing Board need to be improved? How would you improve these aspects?
While communication between stakeholders is one of our strengths as a relatively small district, the Governing Board has not always communicated important topics in the most effective manner. For example, the recent DEI report and recommendations were disseminated in an open Board meeting where discussion and feedback from the community were difficult at best. Given the importance of this topic to many people in the District, I feel that we need to have more in-depth and intimate conversations about DEI in general and the recommendations in particular. There are people who will not have the time to fully parse the report, and it is important that we properly educate them as to what it says so that misunderstandings are kept to a minimum.
If students could vote in the upcoming elections, why should they vote for you?
I view my role on the board as not just representing parents and teachers but students as well. I want to give students a voice in building the future of our district.
I have seen first hand the impact of the pandemic and distance learning on my own children and I believe all our students need extra support. I continue to advocate for the social and emotional well being of all our students. As we move through and emerge from this pandemic, the services and resources provided by the Wellness Center are critical as we adjust to our new reality. As LCFEF President and Gala Co-Chair in 2018-2019, my paddle pledge was to support building the Wellness Center and we brought in an unprecedented $220,000 for the project.
My passion, commitment to students, parents, and teachers, and track record of service to our district make me the best choice to represent our community.
For more information on Mrs. Anderson, visit carolineforlcusd.com.