And what we have today is very much a Sierra Madre story, one that reveals the use of a public school and its students for obviously partisan political purposes. In this case Sierra Madre Elementary School. I have reprinted a series of e-mails here that will tell you quite a story. I have also added some commentary.
Here is the first e-mail that I received. It came from a parent whose name I am leaving out of this. For the record I wasn't asked to do that, I just thought I should err on the side of caution. There are wolves in this forest, as I am sure that many of you know.
I received this attached flyer today from the classroom "mom" for my daughters 3rd grade class at SME. I will not be voting yes on these two ballots and we will not be attending a rally for them, so how is it legal that they can give extra credit for a child that does attend, and release them from having to turn in their nightly homework for the rest of the week? My daughter is punished for my political views? Why is it ok that they prostitute the 3rd grade class to further their political agenda?
I guess I would also like to know if the children got extra credit for the torture they put the Brandenburg's child through as well.
Thank you for your time and continued tattling!
(Mod: This is the e-mail our concerned parent is referring to here:)
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 4:06 PM
Subject: Extra Credit and date change Shumei Hall
The kids are going to Shumei Hall on WEDS.
EXTRA CREDIT TOMORROW NIGHT See the attached flyer.
If your child attends between 4-6 they will not need to complete any of their nightly homework and receive extra credit points.
Apparently the "Extra Credit" e-mail from a "class mom" went out to quite a few Sierra Madre Elementary School parents, and offered them some time off from homework and extra points for attending a partisan political rally in favor of these two ballot initiatives. This did not work out very well for our concerned parent, and she fired off the following to the Pasadena Board of Education:
To whom it may concern,
Can somebody explain how you can exploit a 3rd grade class for your political agenda? Now we give extra credit for voting the way YOU want us to. I want to file a formal complaint, I am sure there is some bureaucratic paperwork I need to fill out and hoops I need to jump through. This is not a poly-sci class, this is the 3rd grade. Where on Monday my daughter was also asked "who she would be voting for if the election was held tomorrow", again none of your business. This has nothing to do with teaching the children about an election process or the separation of church and state. I am pretty sure the teacher would not like me asking who she was voting for in a public arena.
Forward me the paperwork for the formal complaint, or direct me to it. I wonder did they offer extra credit to the children if they bullied the Brandenberg child too? What do you allow to go on at Sierra Madre Elementary?
That didn't work out very well, as our concerned parent explains here:
Dear Mr Crawford,
After trying to send my complaint to the PUSD "contact us" email and getting error messages saying that email is not valid ( this is from their web page) I managed to get the letter sent to Scott Phelps.
I will forward that correspondence to you as well.
Please use it, SME is supposed to be teaching my daughter academics, not their political view and or opinions. I appreciate your attention to this issue. Many thanks,
Here is the e-mail from Pasadena Board of Education member Scott Phelps:
From: Scott Phelps
To: Brian McDonald
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 10:23 PM
Subject: Fwd: Extra Credit and date change Shumei Hall
Brian this is rather urgent. Ed code prohibits the district from being involved formally and giving the kids extra credit is formal involvement. Please let Ms. Salinas know immediately they can't do this tomorrow w the kids. Steve please provide (concerned parent) w the appropriate complaint forms. Thanks guys.
Sent from my iPhone
And that did the trick. Soon an e-mail from the "class mom" that had written the original rally announcement was sent out to that same list of Sierra Madre Elementary School parents, this time announcing a distinct change of plans.
This afternoon's extra credit rally attendance has been cancelled, due to a parent complaint. In class, we have been talking and writing about the upcoming election. Many students have been so excited, and I truly felt that attending today's rally would be a fun and completely optional learning expereince (sic). No personal agenda has ever been discussed or is being pushed onto students. I would never discuss personal opinion with children, or most adults for that matter. In fact, when students have asked me who I am voting for, I have let them know that it is "personal". I appreciate your support, and I'm sorry that we were unable to make this work.
Oh, without a doubt.
If you think about it our concerned parent probably saved the Pasadena Unified School District some considerable embarrassment and even legal difficulty. Had she not stood up for her rights and the rights of her child a serious mistake would have been made. Politically exploiting elementary school children by offering them credits and a vacation from homework for attending a political rally during an election cycle (or at any time) is just about as illegal as it gets.
An investigation by the PUSD of the responsible parties at Sierra Madre Elementary School needs to be conducted. It really was a pretty rogue effort on the part of some people. And who on that school's staff had agreed to the homework waiver and extra credit for some students, but not those whose parents wouldn't have allowed their child to attend the rally? And what does this say about the political atmosphere at Sierra Madre Elementary School? Can it really be this poisonous?
If you notice the date on the email from PUSD Board of Ed member Scott Phelps it is late Tuesday evening. Or a couple of hours after Rob Stockley's rather rambling (and long!) commentary during public comments at this week's City Council meeting regarding Prop 30.
Can it be that this was a part of the same effort? Was Rob doing a little set-up work for a rally that at the moment was still on? Done in support of the illegal children's political rally that some folks connected to that school had cooked up?
And why did Josh Moran allow Rob to go on as long as he did? Special person privileges, or was Josh in on the joke?
Inquiring minds want to know!