Press Releases


Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) is dedicated to the preservation and betterment of public schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.


 November 8, 2013 – 
COMMUNITY FOR EXCELLENT PUBLIC SCHOOLS (CEPS) Endorses The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s ‘Vision for Student Success’

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Santa Monica, CA – Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), a broad-based grassroots organization dedicated to the preservation and betterment of public schools in Santa Monica and Malibu, has enthusiastically endorsed SMMUSD’s landmark campaign, ‘Vision for Student Success’, now in full implementation mode after being put forth by Superintendent Sandra Lyon and adopted by the SMMUSD School Board in 2011. ‘Vision for Student Success’ is a community-wide campaign to raise funds for programs that are vital to our children’s educational experience, with a mission to help every child in the school district succeed.

“CEPS is pleased to endorse the vision of Superintendent Lyon in bringing together parents, teachers, staff, businesses, and the entire community in support of educational excellence for our Santa Monica and Malibu schools” said CEPS Chair Shari Davis. “A shared community vision for excellence in our public schools has been the foundation of CEPS’ work for over a decade.”

The SMMUSD Vision for Student Success campaign will provide all students with quality educational programs at every school in the district. These programs include: a comprehensive visual and performing arts program for K-5 students and enrichment programs at all schools; literacy coaches at each elementary school and increased support for literacy and math at the secondary level; highly trained instructional aides at elementary schools, and high quality professional development for all teachers to enhance instruction at every grade level. A campaign goal of $4 million must be raised by January 31, 2014 to ensure these programs at district schools in the 2014-2015 school year.

“The only possible way to achieve our district-wide goals is with the support of our community, which is why I am so pleased that CEPS is an early and helpful partner” said Superintendent Lyon, who added, “CEPS has been unwavering in its leadership and advocacy for public school funding. We are a unique public school community because of the work of our advocates.”

For more information along with ways to support the Vision for Student Success, please go to To become an advocate and support the work of CEPS, please go to

SEPTEMBER 9, 2012 – 

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Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) has made endorsements in local races that will be decided by voters on November 6th.  The decade-old education-focused Political Action Committee has endorsed:SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL

Gleam Davis

Terry O’Day

Shari Davis

Ted Winterer



Ben Allen

Jose Escarce

Maria Leon Vazquez



Richard Bloom



YES on Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Measure ES


The CEPS Steering Committee made its endorsements on Saturday, September 8, after a two-week evaluation process.  Candidates for the Santa Monica City Council and the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education were invited to answer a short questionnaire and all responses to CEPS education-themed questions are posted on the CEPS website at  Select candidates were invited to a short interview with CEPS Steering Committee members, which were open to the community and took place at the Santa Monica Main Library on August 30 and September 4.

CEPS based its decision to endorse in the City Council race on criteria that went farther than expressed support for public education, but acknowledged candidates who had a record of working as true “champions” for public education.  “Gleam, Shari, Ted and Terry each have impressive personal records of advocating for public schools and lifelong learning,” says CEPS Chair, Rebecca Kennerly.  “We are proud to work with them to help preserve and protect our local schools and support the entire community.”

CEPS had difficulty making its decisions in the Santa Monica City Council race since so many candidates expressed vigorous support for public education.  “We hated to narrow the field to the four to fill the open seats,” says CEPS Chair Rebecca Kennerly, “since a much greater number than that share our commitment to the core concept that strong schools equal a strong community.”

In the School Board election, CEPS voted to support the three incumbents in the race, School Board President, Ben Allen, as well as Jose Escarce and Maria Leon Vazquez.  Each of these incumbents has a strong focus on representing all students in district, working to close the achievement gap, and helping develop and focus goals for the district, which has just seen a significant rise in student test scores.  In addition, these incumbents, unfortunately, have experience guiding the district through budget crises, which could become a very large issue should California Propositions 30 and/or 38 fail to pass in November.

CEPS was encouraged to see three Malibu candidates, Karen Farrer, Craig Foster, and Seth Jacobson enter the Board of Education race.  Steering Committee members have worked with and respect each of the three.  However, as they are running as a single slate, the CEPS Steering Committee felt they were not provided with sufficient information to complete the necessary analysis of each candidate individually.

In addition to the Board of Education and City Council endorsements, CEPS also voted to support California Propositions 30 and 38, both of which would provide increased funding to public education and reduce the need for severe funding cuts to our local public schools.  CEPS encourages “yes” votes for both.

Finally, CEPS voted to support the Santa Monica-Malibu Bond Measure ES, which will provide critically needed funds to schools to repair 100-year-old school facilities and upgrade technology so that students can engage in 21st Century learning.

APRIL 6, 2009 –

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Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) supports the renewal of the Master Facilities Use Agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. “Based on the details of the contract renewal released by the City,” states CEPS Chair Shari Davis, “we are pleased that the base amount of the contract remains in place, with a cost of living adjustment. This funding is absolutely crucial to our schools with the current budget crisis at the state level requiring deep cuts to education.”CEPS is grateful to Mayor Ken Genser, Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor, City Manager P. Lamont Ewell, SMMUSD Superintendent Tim Cuneo, School Board President Mechur, School Board Vice President Snell, and all the dedicated senior staff members who worked so hard to iron out the renewal language.Five years ago this month, CEPS was completing the collection of 15,000 signatures of Santa Monica voters to qualify a ballot measure for a proposed amendment to the Santa Monica City Charter. The amendment would have established a formula whereby the prosperity of this wonderful City would be shared with our local public schools as reliable, predictable, ongoing funding. CEPS decided not to submit the signatures and pursue the amendment when an eleventh hour agreement between the City and SMMUSD created a renewable five-year contract for funding public schools.

“CEPS is gratified that our civic and community leaders join CEPS and the education constituency in supporting our local public schools so strongly,” continues CEPS Chair Shari Davis, “and that our City Council has recognized education as a priority in these challenging economic times. The cooperation and respect apparent in these negotiations demonstrate the recognition of the critical importance of City-School funding for both entities. The renewal of this contract will not only be felt by every student in our schools, but also by city residents throughout Santa Monica.”

October 3, 2006 SANTA MONICA –
Endorses Gleam Davis for City Council; Emily Bloomfield, Kelly Pye & Barry Snell for Board of Education; Louise Jaffe, David Finkel, Tom Donner & Nancy Greenstein for SMC Board

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Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) announces its endorsements in three races critical to education interests in the Santa Monica and Malibu communities after concluding a month-long evaluation process. CEPS has voted to endorse Gleam Davis for Santa Monica City Council; Emily Bloomfield, Kelly Pye & Barry Snell for SMMUSD Board of Education; Louise Jaffe, David Finkel, Tom Donner & Nancy Greenstein for SMC Board of Trustees.City Council RaceCEPS had voted in June, 2006 to endorse Gleam Davis for a position on the Santa Monica City Council. CEPS chair, Shari Davis stated, “Gleam Davis understands the value of having excellent public schools, and the benefits our whole community reaps when high quality K-12 schools, early childhood education and community college opportunities are a top priority. Numerous policy decisions come before the Santa Monica City Council related to educating and enriching the lives of the children in our community. Gleam has the experience and know-how to maximize the impact the City can have on education.”

Acknowledging that education is one of a group of important criteria that voters must assess in making their council choices, CEPS chose a rating system for other City Council candidates to indicate whom it believes to be a reliable supporter of public education

Incumbents Bob Holbrook and Kevin McKeown, along with newcomer Terry O’Day, were rated as “reliable” supporters of education. All three have demonstrated an understanding of the needs of our public schools and have stated their intentions of continuing to provide support to our schools and our children in the future.

CEPS has rated incumbent Pam O’Connor as “unreliable”. The rating was based upon O’Connor’s public disdain for the constituent movement that led to the City’s contract providing ongoing funds to our schools and her lack of commitment to support future funding.

SMMUSD Board of Education

Community for Excellent Public Schools endorses incumbent Emily Bloomfield along with longtime education activists Kelly Pye and Barry Snell.

Bloomflield, mother of three SMMUSD students, has been a passionate and well-respected champion for closing the achievement gap during her first term on the Board of Education. Pye has made a name for herself as an outspoken voice for low-income students in the district in her years of service to PTA, Site Governance and various education groups. She stresses partnership and collaboration as her mission on the Board. Snell is also a high-profile volunteer who has worked with PTA and school site groups to bring minority parents, especially African-American fathers, into the loop at Santa Monica High School and the middle schools.

Santa Monica College Board of Trustees

CEPS endorses Louise Jaffe, Nancy Greenstein, Tom Donner and David Finkel for SMC Board.

Louise Jaffe brings an extraordinary commitment to community lifelong learning and a record of significant achievement in efforts to provide new resources for students. Nancy Greenstein is the only incumbent and the current board chair; her long record of community service and leadership has been especially beneficial to the College and merits her re-election. Tom Donner’s thirty-year record of trust and service has contributed to SMC becoming one of the top ten community colleges in the country. His institutional memory is most needed with the retirement of three long-serving trustees. David Finkel’s lifetime of service to the community will provide Santa Monica College with both wisdom and strength. As a retired judge and a former locally-elected official, his skills and experience will be invaluable to the continued success of SMC.

Community for Excellent Public Schools candidate evaluations followed a three-step process. Candidates were asked to answer a comprehensive list of questions that were developed to touch upon a broad spectrum of educational concerns specific to SMMUSD. The full list of questions as well as each candidate’s complete answers are available to the public at Candidates were then invited to meet with CEPS Steering Committee members on September 27 & 28th for individual interviews. CEPS then reviewed all answers as well as incumbents’ records, and Steering Committee members voted on endorsements and ratings.

CEPS also voted to endorse Measure BB, Santa Monica Malibu’s School Safety and Repair Bond.

CEPS Press Release, May 2006 SANTA MONICA –

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) and the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA will join forces to present, ‘The State of Our Schools: How Are We Doing?”, a public forum set for Monday, May 8, 2006 from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the Santa Monica Public Library, Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. This education forum is free and open to all members of the public. Refreshments will be served in the library courtyard following the program.Did you know that in an era of staggering drop-out rates, Santa Monica and Malibu High Schools graduate greater than 95% of their Seniors?Did you know that Santa Monica and Malibu High School graduates have been accepted into more than 200 four-year colleges nationwide, including all of the most prestigious Ivy League and UC campuses?

Did you know that students at all Santa Monica and Malibu campuses have seen remarkable increases in their California Standardized Achievement Test scores – across the board, in all demographics?

Did you know that SMMUSD’s fine arts / music program is one of the best in the state? And that the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra is considered one of the finest youth orchestras in the nation, performing recently in China and was the first-ever public high school orchestra to be asked to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall?

This first-annual public forum on our public schools will discuss —

  • How California’s schools stack up against the rest of the nation
  • How our Santa Monica-Malibu schools compare
  • An analysis of student achievement
  • How funding for SMMUSD differs from other California districts

Dr. Stephen Carroll from the RAND Corporation will present an overview of the landmark study ‘California’s K-12 Public Schools: How Are They Doing?’, which provides a stark look at public schools statewide.

Joining Dr. Carroll will be Julia Brownley, President, SMMUSD School Board, and Dr. Mike Matthews, Interim Superintendent, SMMUSD.

The evening will conclude with teachers and students discussing their perspectives and experiences.

Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) is dedicated to the preservation and betterment of public schools in the Santa Monica -Malibu Unified School District.
•To promote a shared community vision for excellence in our public schools that includes early childhood and post-secondary education;
•To evaluate and pursue a range of short and long term funding measures through state, city and school district policies and elections;
•To identify and support issues that will support education and public schools, including early childhood education, after-school programs, and post-secondary public education;
•To increase public awareness of the value and uniqueness of our public schools.
• To promote accountability for high quality public education by public institutions and public officials._
For more information access
The Santa Monica-Malibu Council of PTAs provides leadership, advocacy, communication, and funding to the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District. Our membership of more than 8,000 is comprised of parents, students, staff, and community members who volunteer over 115,000 hours a year. We all work together tirelessly for one common cause – to provide ALL students with an excellent public education.
Our PTAs run volunteer programs for the classrooms, hold special events that build community, and improve communication through newsletters and informational meetings. Many of our enrichment programs and the much needed classroom supplies are funded by our PTAs.

CEPS Press Release, April 26, 2005 SANTA MONICA – Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), having successfully advocated for a minimum of 6 million dollars in annual funding from the City of Santa Monica for public schools, is now turning its attention to Sacramento where the Governor’s proposed education budget breaks his promise to restore Proposition 98 funding, provides inadequate funding overall and will force deep cuts in public schools statewide. Partnering with local PTAs and the California State PTA, CEPS is providing organizing support for “Caravan for Kids,” a two-day, statewide mobilization of parents and kids from Eureka to San Diego to protest this budget. PTAs are holding events statewide on Wednesday, April 27th, then will board buses, planes and cars to converge on Sacramento for a rally on the Capitol steps April 28th.

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More than fifty Santa Monica and Malibu parents, students and community leaders will join the Caravan on April 27th, with a bus departing at 10:30am from the Santa Monica Civic Center parking lot, 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica.They will join a noon rally downtown at Governor’s LA office, Ronald Reagan State Office Building, 300 S. Spring Street, LA. Speakers at this rally include:

  • Scott Folsom, incoming PTA President, 10th District (LAUSD PTA)
  • Patty Scripter, PTA Council President, Glendale
  • Sheri Osborne, Member, Northwest Valley PTA Council, Volunteer of the Year
  • Maria Rodriguez, PTA Council President, Santa Monica-Malibu
  • Denny Zane, CEPS member, PTA parent and Santa Monica activist

“Years of funding cuts have forced schools to increase class sizes and let go of teachers, librarians, school nurses, and education programs vital to our children,” stated Shari Davis, CEPS co-chair. “California has some of the most overcrowded classrooms and the lowest number of librarians and counselors per student in the nation. Our kids deserve better than this.”

“California parents, from Eureka to San Diego, are motivated and mobilizing as never before to make sure our voices and those of our children are heard in Sacramento,” said California State PTA President Carla Niño. “We’ve been patient in the past, but this budget proposal is the last straw. It breaks a promise that parents and their kids were counting on. We will not sit back and watch the continued under-funding of our schools and the assault on Proposition 98.” Proposition 98 is a Constitutional measure approved by California voters that guarantees a minimum funding level for schools.

CEPS has been instrumental to Caravan for Kids by providing organizational, logistical and financial support to allow parents and students from throughout California to converge on Sacramento by bus, car, and airplane and challenge the governor and legislators to properly invest in children’s education and make California’s public schools great again. Supporters from Eureka, Red Bluff, Plumas & Lassen Counties and Chico in northern California, coastal cities and suburbs of the nine-county Bay Area down through Monterey and south to San Luis Obispo, the Central Valley communities of Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto down to Fresno and Bakersfield, small towns to the east scattered across the Sierra Nevada mountains, and from Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Inland Empire, and San Diego will join in the effort. They will all meet in Sacramento and rally at the Capitol Steps.

“We are grateful to our wonderful communities of Santa Monica and Malibu for showing, through their support of local funding measures and city support of public education, that they truly make education a top community concern,” states CEPS co-chair Shari Davis. “But local support can’t solve the problem. The only real solution to inadequate funding for our schools has to come out of Sacramento. While CEPS will remain vigilant locally, we must also be vigilant at the State level.”

“Partnering with PTA has been enormously successful and gratifying,” claims CEPS co-Chair and past PTA Council president Louise Jaffe. “Who better than parents to know the toll that education cuts are taking on the students of our community? Our Santa Monica and Malibu PTAs and PTA Council understand how crucial state funding is.”

“The role of PTA has changed dramatically in the past ten years,” says Santa Monica Malibu PTA Council President Maria Rodriguez. “PTA has been forced into assuming an ever greater role in advocacy, local fundraising and public education. Ten years ago, we were raising funds for extras. Now we’re raising millions of dollars each year for basics that the state has stopped paying for. And on top of that we’re finding ourselves taking on leadership roles in passing local funding measures. But if we don’t let people know what is going on in our schools, who will?”
California State PTA Legislative Chair, Cecelia Mansfield “Thanks Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) for its organizational support for the Caravan for Kids. CEPS’ efforts have made California State PTA’s goal of giving parents and children a strong voice in Sacramento at this crucial time a reality.”

CEPS Press Release, October 11, 2004 SANTA MONICA– After a month-long evaluation process, Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) rates 8 of the 14 Santa Monica City Council Candidates running for four open seats “reliable” supporters of public education.

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Acknowledging that education is one of a group of important criteria that voters must assess in making their council choices, CEPS chose a reliability rating system for City Council candidates rather than a more traditional endorsement. CEPS announced its School Board endorsements for Dr. José Escarce, Maria Leon-Vazquez and Dr. Kathy Wisnicki last week.CEPS rated City Council incumbents Richard Bloom Ken Genser, and Herb Katz “reliable”, as well as Matteo Dinolfo, Patricia Hoffman, Maria Loya, Kathryn Morea, and Bobby Shriver. Leticia Anderson and Linda Armstrong were not rated as CEPS felt there is “insufficient information available [for these candidates] to make a determination.”Bill Bauer David Cole, incumbent Michael Feinstein, and Jonathan Mann were rated not reliable supporters of Public Education.

Community for Excellent Public Schools candidate evaluations followed a three-step process. Candidates were asked to answer a comprehensive list of questions that were developed to touch upon a broad spectrum of educational concerns specific to SMMUSD. The full list of questions as well as each candidate’s complete answers are available to the public at

Candidates were then invited to answer questions from the public at the CEPS Candidates Forum, which took place at Franklin Elementary School on September 20th. Finally, candidates’ backgrounds, qualifications and track-records were analyzed. Endorsements were made based on a compilation of all three criteria.

In addition, candidates were asked to sign the CEPS Pledge, which read:

“I pledge to support the agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District that provides significant city funding to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. I will vote to affirm that agreement when it appears on the City Council agenda and to provide necessary funds at budget adoption. I pledge to increase City support to the School District whenever the City’s revenues will allow such an increase, as provided by the agreement.”

While all candidates signed the Pledge, incumbent Michael Feinstein was a vocal opponent of the City/School District Funding agreement and the citizen group that pushed it forward, calling it “slash and burn politics.” Feinstein did not vote in favor of the agreement.

CEPS also voted to endorse Santa Monica College Bond, Measure S and the increase of Santa Monica’s Transit Occupancy Tax, Measure N.

In a spirited and, at times contentious meeting last night, the Santa Monica City Council approved the School Funding Agreement released Tuesday, May 4th by SMMUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Santa Monica City Manager Susan McCarthy. The Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education expressed their unanimous approval of the Agreement May 6, 2004.

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Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) Co-chair Shari Davis comments, “CEPS is so proud to have been able to lead this extraordinary community-wide effort to bring our public schools the long-term, stable local funding that they need to provide students quality educational opportunities. We live in a unique community, one which was able to work together to craft and approve this agreement. We would like to thank the many volunteers whose hard work helped make this resolution possible. And we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Superintendent Deasy and City Manager McCarthy for the dedicated, professional manner in which they crafted this agreement. “The School Funding Agreement provides SMMUSD with base funding of $6 million per year for a five-year term. The agreement also includes escalators and renewal clauses. This agreement was released just one day before CEPS was to submit the approximately 15,000 signatures it had gathered from Santa Monica voters in favor of placing its Excellent Public Schools Measure on the November ballot. The CEPS measure would have amended the Charter of the City of Santa Monica to provide funding to SMMUSD. The CEPS Steering Committee, after carefully reviewing the Agreement reached by Dr. Deasy and Ms. McCarthy has voted to hold off submitting the signatures for its measure and looks forward to a time in the near future when the Board of Education and the City Council approves and signs a fully-executed School Funding Agreement.?This agreement represents Herculean efforts put forth by everyone in this community,? says CEPS Co-chair Louise Jaffee, ?most notably Dr. Deasy, Ms. McCarthy and the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of residents who support increased funding for schools. We believe that this agreement establishes the respect and recognition that public education demands. CEPS also wants to thank Council Members Katz and Genser, and Mayor Bloom for their part in helping make this agreement reality, as well as our own outstanding Board of Education.

Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) steering committee has carefully reviewed the proposed School Funding Agreement released yesterday by SMMUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Santa Monica City Manager Susan McCarthy.

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(May 5, 2004) 
(May 5, 2004)