Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Local Schools Should Be A Supportive and Kind Culture with Positive Leadership, Says Esther Hickman, Candidate for School Board

Esther Hickman says her campaign is about staying positive and focusing on solutions--and bringing back the basics of education.

“I'm running because I believe in the promise of our public schools. The SMMUSD is "the second wealthiest school district in the country," says Hickman. "Our educational outcomes should reflect that."

Hickman believes that recent violence at santa monica high school reflects the "hostile environment" there.

“A supportive culture for all students and a sense of school pride comes from positive leadership in our schools and will foster an environment more conducive to harmony among the students and better educational outcomes.”

"I am also running because I know we can do better," she says. "We can afford smaller class sizes.  I'm concerned about the exodus to private schools by families who no longer feel safe or no longer think they can get a good education from our schools. That's wrong and that's why I'm running."

What changes need to be made in SMMUSD public schools?

"We need leaders who are focused on education and our kids," she says. "One way we can start to focus on our kids' educational needs is by lowering the class sizes."

"That's happening a little bit as the result of declining enrollment, but we need to change our educational standards that would make a difference in class size. This would benefit all of our students, especially those who experience racial and socio-economic disparity," she says.

"We need to start at zero and prioritize education in our budgets. Really, for SMMUSD, the question is:  Are we going to prioritize education or continue to fund expenses that aren’t serving our students."

"That's one thing. Another is the equity around SMMUSD facilities. How SMMUSD spends money simply doesn't make sense," she says.

"There's no master plan for how they're going to spend bond money. That's why Samohi looks like a jail on one side, a community college on another side, a weathered historic Barnum hall in the middle, and ground zero along Pico. We need to focus on rehabilitation and modernization, not winning architectural awards for new development." she says.

"My five year old daughter is at Edison Elementary. Edison is utopia. But it's so unfair and inequitable that Edison has tons of resources, while other SMMUSD campuses are shut down because of an ignored water intrusion problems. It's a bizarre scenario, ignoring our kids’ current needs and a waste of taxpayer money," Hickman says.

"Finally, the SMMUSD culture has to change. All the adults in our community need to lead by example, through civility, humility, kindness, respect and tolerance.  This includes members of our community and leadership during school board meetings. We need to go back to basics and really listen to one another. Our schools should be reflective of our community values and goals, rather than special interests."

Esther Hickman is an SMMUSD Malibu school alum (K-8). She graduated from SamoHi in 1991. She met and married Keith Hickman, a general contractor. She describes herself as a mom, a Pico resident, and a local realtor.

"Prior to real estate, she says, "I was in the operations side of facilities and procurement in the mail industry. I worked for the British and Dutch post offices. I have also worked as an operations director for a productive real estate team," she says.

"Due to my background, I am familiar with operations, project management, financials and facilities management. They are not foreign concepts to me."

"Realtors are good at bringing people together, which I think is one more thing I can contribute as a school board member." she says.


Reader Comments(2)

estherhickman writes:

Dear Sarah, Thank you for your comment and that doesn't sound harsh at all. I couldn't agree more and I should have thought of that. My dear husband of more than 20+ yrs is not licensed or qualified to work on anything except our personal property. Right now, that's a fixer that we live in. Listing his profession as a one man, DIY Home Improver was another option. Yes, I'm watching the city level and thank you for paying attention to the school board candidates. Call or write me anytime with any questions. or 310-600-7306

Sbmomsguide writes:

Hi Esther. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being willing to be interviewed. Forgive me for asking, but what kind of contractor is your husband? The last thing this board needs is someone feeding contracting jobs out to family and spouses. Forgive me if that sounds harsh. I agree that there needs to be some changes, but I also believe those changes need to happen at the city level too. I look forward to hearing a response! Best, Sarah