Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, February 26, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 9



 Mountain Views News Saturday, February 26, 2011 

About this special supplement: Prior to the events of this past week, one of the Seats on the School 
Board, Seat 2, was only being sought by the incumbent, Renatta Cooper. However, on Tuesday, February 22, 
2011, Cushon Bell qualified and will challenge Cooper as a write in candidate.

 In an effort to be fair to all concerned, this paper will run the interview with Cooper along with a story on Bell. 
As previously stated, This election is of the greatest importance to all residents of Sierra Madre, Altadena and 
Pasadena. Therefore, this paper will expand its coverage of the campaign and the candidates in hopes that we 
can help you make an informed decision and to inspire you to make an informed decision and VOTE, whether 
you have school aged children or not. -Susan Henderson, Publisher/Editor


Pasadena Unified School District 

Board of Education Elections - March 8, 2011

(Per the Voter Information Pamphlet - Office of the Pasadena City Clerk)


AGE: 48


Education Data 

I am one of the PUSD’s 
top parent volunteers.

I am the best qualified 
and most experienced 

I served four years as 
the Chairperson of the 
PUSD’s District Advisory 
Council coordinating between parents and 
staff at all PUSD schools on subjects relating to 
funding, educational programs and legal compliance 
issues. I worked to educate hundreds of 
PUSD parents on issues like testing and accountability, 
standards based report cards, Open Enrollment, 
Special Education, budgeting and Parent 

My children have attended PUSD’s Blair High 
School, Eliot Middle School, Burbank Elementary 
and Longfellow Elementary School.

While the PUSD has made significant progress, 
there is much work to do. As past leader of the 
PUSD’s parent advisory councils, I developed and 
monitored plans for improving student achievement. 
I know that effective planning and evaluation 
will improve performance.

As a PUSD board member, I will place pressure 
on our schools to increase excellence by:

Insisting on high expectations for student behavior 
and academic performance

 Increase academic rigor of PUSD’s High Schools

 Stop wasteful spending by aligning expenditures 

 with academic goals.

I believe that parental involvement is an essential 
part of a child’s education

Please call me at 626-794-0325




AGE: 72


Executive Administrator

Public education is a complex business 
requiring board members who have the 
leadership abilities, 
and know how to 
effectively oversee 
and guide 
both educational 
programming as 
well as budget 
and fiscal operations, 
labor relations, 
capital projects and long range planning. 
Those skills are increasingly important 
given the economic conditions confronting 
our state, nation and school district. 
Those are the kind of skills that must be 
brought to the job as a board member. I 
have those skills and the executive experience 
needed to provide the quality 
of sound decision-making and effective 
leadership Pasadena Unified School District 
requires and deserves. If all of our 
children are to succeed, they require no 
less than the best in its leadership and that 
is the quality of leadership that I will bring 
to the Board.



By Vivianne Parker

Editor’s Note:

This interview was 
done prior to any other 
candidate challenging Board Member Cooper. 

Renatta Cooper is seeking the Seat 2 position. 
Running unopposed, she feels it is a “vote 
of confidence.” With her early education 
background, she has advised the board on 
key issues to consider alternative options. 
When Superintendent Diaz was considering 
expanding kindergarten in Sierra Madre 
from a half-day format to a full-day format, 
Cooper’s suggestion to allow the parents 
to have a choice made the Superintendent 
change his mind. Faced with budget cuts and 
increasing class sizes, she had to “draw the 
line” in discussions which would have seen 
kindergarten class sizes up to 25 students. 
For the special education community, she 
had to be an advocate in a situation where 
the previous leadership had an “adversarial 
relationship” with them. Cooper intervened 
to advise them that were legally entitled to 
services being requested. 

 Experienced as a teacher and 
administrator, Cooper sees the early 
childhood education needing improvement 
to where there is “actually a unit” established 
to focus on the three aspects of the field: 
education, intervention and prevention. 
Her other plans are to encourage the board 
to adopt new models that engage more 
parent involvement with school initiatives. 
Currently, the board is using the Epstein 
model termed a one-size-fits-all approach 
to getting parent involvement, yet it is not 
attracting 100 percent participation of the 

 Working on the board, she has made 
accomplishments being the sole African 
American, which led her to establish an 
African American parent council. She was 
also the first woman elected to the board. 

 For the next four years, she plans 
on helping “getting the word out” about 
the positives of the PUSD system--its 
quality education, its innovative outdoor 
play classrooms now being developed, and 
its diversity. Believing “public schools 
provide good education for the real world”, 
she is not quick to allow the low test scores 
to be reflective of the educational quality 
in Pasadena. On the closing the gap issue, 
cities usually compared are Burbank, 
Glendale and San Marino. Cooper sees 
the comparison not a complete picture of 
Pasadena’s educational profile with largely 
Latino and African American students. She 
believes comparing the demographics with 
cities similar to Pasadena’s will show better 
numbers, especially, if the large portion 
attending private schools in the city were 
actually attending public schools. The 
testing scores of some Caucasian students 
are “outperforming” state scores, she said in 
discussing the biased perception of public 
schools compared to private schools.

 Because of her experience as a 
teacher, she is not quick to “blame teachers 
for everything” on board issues. With the 
teacher evaluation system discussed, she said 
she would not “buy into the hype about it.”

 For the students, she aspires an 
education that is not all vocation-based. 
“I think there is something positive about 
being a learned person. I want our students 
to be idealistic…to dream instead of ponder. 
I want them to really understand the 
magnitude of what’s happening in Egypt. I 
want them to be able to talk about that…This 
is not going to be on the test, but you need to 
understand why it is so important and relay 
that to other revolutionary moments in the 

 For the parents, she would like 
the option of bilingual program education 
offered in the PUSD system.

Dear PUSD Community 

My name is Cushon 
Bell and I am running 
as a write-in 
candidate for Seat 2 
of the PUSD Board 
of Education.

As a wife, mother of 
three, educator and 
nine year resident 
of Altadena, I am running because I believe 
I can help improve the quality of education 
that our children are receiving in PUSD 
schools and build on the progress that our 
PUSD schools have made over the last several 

In the face of budget cuts and fiscal adversity, 
I look forward to working cooperatively and 
collaboratively with board members, parents, 
teachers, administrators, students, and all 
other stakeholders in the PUSD community. 
I have a track record that shows I will step up 
and demand the resources that are needed 
for our children to succeed and I am committed 
to utilizing those resources to make great 
things happen in PUSD.

I have a wealth of experiences which I believe 
will allow me to be successful as a school 
board member. For fourteen years, I worked 
in the Los Angeles Unified School District 
(LAUSD) as an elementary educator -- twelve 
years as a classroom teacher and two years 
as a literacy coach. Over the past four years, 
I’ve worked in PUSD as an engaged volunteer 
and parent leader. Through my experiences 
as a volunteer in PUSD, I’ve had the opportunity 
to further develop my leadership skills 
and establish a rapport with PUSD parents, 
students, administrators, and local elected 
officials in Altadena, Pasadena, and Sierra 

One of the things that I am passionate about 
is helping to educate parents, of all backgrounds, 
and facilitating their empowerment 
as advocates for their children. Parents, after 
all, are children’s very first teachers. I also 
care deeply about classroom teachers being 
well-trained and well-supported so that they 
are able to provide the very best for all of their 

If elected, I will dedicate myself to:

Placing the interest of the children of Altadena, 
Pasadena, and Sierra Madre above all 
other issues.

Making the “PUSD Strategic Plan” work, in 
spite of the challenges we face as district.

Building and expanding parent and community 
engagement. Promoting clear expectations 
for all members – students, parents, 
teachers,administrators, board members, 
chief executives, classified staff, certificated 
staff, etc. – of the PUSD community. 

Modeling open and honest communication.

I currently have two children enrolled at 
a PUSD school, and a third that will enroll 
in kindergarten this fall. It is my hope that 
each of them, along with every other student 
enrolled at a PUSD school, receive a high 
quality education in an engaging, safe, and 
supportive environment. I want all PUSD 
students to have an education that is academically 
challenging, comprehensive, and that 
will prepare them to be successful leaders in 
their adult lives.

Choosing me as your write-in candidate for 
Seat 2, will assure that you have someone 
working on your behalf, and on behalf of every 
concerned PUSD community member 
to meet the goals of our district. I will fight 
for every child as I fight for my own -- with 
the grace and dignity of a seasoned education 
professional and the devotion of a concerned 

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, Cushon Bell




AGE: 53


School Board Member

The challenge for the Pasadena 
Unified School District 
is greater than ever. 
Education budget cuts 
from Sacramento create 
tremendous pressure. Despite 
the deepest cuts in a 
generation, PUSD continues 
to see success in tough 
economic times.

It has been my privilege 
to serve the District as a 
Board Member and President 
during the past 4 
years, during which time 
our Average Performance 
Index (API) scores have 
risen consistently, outpacing 
the state’s average 
growth. A majority 
of our elementary schools 
now have API scores over 
800, while the District as a 
whole is up 51 points.

We’ve cut wasteful spending 
by streamlining the 
District Administration, 
and saved over $700,000 by 
implementing energy efficient 
measures. I worked 
to secure a $2.4 million 
federal grant to improve 
college enrollment and career 
preparation for our 
high school students.

Our middle and high 
school API scores are also 
rising. I will continue to 
work closely with parents, 
teachers, and students to 
increase our graduation 
rate, narrow the achievement 
gap, and prepare all 
students for success.

I pledge to use your vote 
to continue to deliver responsible 
and accountable 
PUSD leadership.


AGE: 59


School Building Architect

Pasadena, Sierra Madre 
and Altadena are exceptional 
communities, PUSD 
schools must reflect our 

I graduated from Rosemead 
High and studied 
architecture at Pasadena 
City College, going on to 
Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo. 
Following graduation, I 
discovered my passion for 
school design. Fortunate 
to work with many creative 
educators, we’ve built 
100+ schools. Sharing this 
expertise can help students 
have opportunities 
to learn, work hard, and 
succeed professionally. We 
raised three daughters all 
educated in public schools, 
graduating from California 
State Universities.

Why does Pasadena have 
one of the highest private 
schools attendance in 
California? Why do many 
schools post below-average 
API’s? Why is PUSD’s diversity 
“pocketed”? Bold 
action is necessary to keep 
schools open and transform 
them. Offering varied 
learning settings will 
attract students.

 Establish K-8 neighborhood 

 Offer quality career 

 Establish effective 
small high schools that 
encourage students to 
pursue a vocation.

 Establish District charters, 
multiplying learning 

 Build partnerships with 
Cal Tech, PCC, JPL and 
private/charter schools.

 Unite local resources; 
develop “future” strategic 

 Recruit and utilize 

 Partnerships with 

As Board Member, I will 
evaluate every option investing 
our resources in 
quality education programs. 
Our students deserve 
the best, ultimately 
regarding everyone with 
productive citizens.


AGE: 39



I am the only credentialed 
teacher and certified school 
administrator in this election 

I have worked with K-12 
public school children for 
more than 10 years. I was 
voted Teacher Of The Year 
by my peers. I have taught 
Educational Leadership for 
the California State University 
system and have 
worked for Cal Tech and 

I have successfully led the 
development of countywide 
educational standards 
and curriculum and Chair 
a committee for the Wester 
Association of School and 

Too many of our students 
are under performing. 
Eleven of our schools 
are under state supervision. 
Despite progress, the 
PUSD remains an under 
performing school district. 
Enrollment is dropping 
and schools are closing.

With your support, I will 
focus on:

 Better classroom management 
training for teachers 
focusing on discipline and 
maintaining an effective 
learning environment.

Holding principals accountable 
for the performance 
of their schools.

Better supervision and 
management of individual 
student progress.

Like most of you, I received 
an excellent public education 
at far lower funding 
levels then we have today.

Tight budgets are not a justification 
for failure.

Let’s stop using tough 
times as an excuse and get 
to work for our kids.

Please email me at 


 The League of Women Voters Pasadena Area (LWVPA) invites you to 
share in their seventy-fifth anniversary celebration on Sunday, March 
6, 2011, from 4 pm to 6 pm at the California Institute of Technology's 

 Food, live music and entertainment will be provided including guest 
speaker, Congresswoman Judy Chu.

 Born out of the suffragist movement just 17 years after Carrie Chapman 
Catt laid the cornerstone of the National League of Women 
Voters in 1920, the Pasadena League began with a group of of civic-
minded women in the living room of a San Marino home. The fledgling 
Pasadena LWV commenced setting an agenda that would endure 
throughout its history. While city government and children would 
continue to top the League's agenda, eradication of gender and racial 
discrimination in housing, education and government also ranked 
high in LWV priorities. The League is currently and successfully addressing these issues.

Seventy-five years later, after decades of providing voter education and voter service to help make 
democracy work, League of Women Voters Pasadena Area is ready to celebrate.

About the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging the informed and active participation 
of citizens in government. The League never supports or opposes any political party or candidate. The 
overall goal of the League of Women

Voters of the Pasadena Area is to help all citizens effectively participate to improve their communities. Monthly 
Program meetings and community forums open to all members and the public feature focus on current issues of 
interest and the pro's and con's of ballot measures. Members can volunteer to participate in committees to study 
issues, implement special projects or carry out voter service activities. LWVPA's e-mail action network, monthly 
newsletter and website keep members informed. and can join the

LWVPA's email action network. Members also elect officers and most of the directors and plan and set programs 
and priorities. 

To make a reservation for the 75th anniversary celebration or to join League of Women Voters Pasadena area, please