Some powerful politicians and political organizations have thrown their support behind Ben Allen’s candidacy for a seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education. Some of Allen’s heavy-hitter supporters include Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, SMRR, The Santa Monica Democratic Club, the Democratatic Party, AFL-CIO, Assembly member Julia Brownley, Fran Pavley, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom, and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
At a recent fundraiser held in the home of political activist Leah Mendelsohn, Yaroslavsky made to the following comment to the Mirror:
“When Ben was a college student, he served as an intern in my office. He is one of the brightest and most incisive people that I’ve worked with and has wisdom beyond his years. He was able to handle everything I threw at him, including the arcane health care policy issues that the county faced.” Yaroslavsky continued, “He mastered the challenge, and better than the people I had working for me in the Health Department for 30 years.”
Zaroslavsky added, “He’s got a brain and a heart to match and that’s a combination that’s very rare, and when he told me he was seeking this position, I was thrilled because I think he belongs in public office. He’d be a great gift to Santa Monica-Malibu School District.” A smiling Yaroslavsky continued, “But I’ll guarantee that you won’t be able to keep him very long because Ben’s too good to stay in one place. He’s got a great political future and is going to do a wonderful job for this community as well as for the county and for the country.”
Allen is a graduate of our local schools – Franklin Elementary, Lincoln Middle School, and Santa Monica High School. He received his BA from Harvard University, a Masters in Philosophy at Cambridge, and his law degree from UC Berkeley Law School.
In Washington, Allen served as press secretary for Jose Serrano, Congressman from the Bronx. Recalling his experience, he said, “I learned so much about the environment of Congress and got to see how decisions are made and how legislation is pushed through. I found some of the people very impressive and others much less so. I left because I was struck by how streamlined the rules of the House are – the rules are written to allow the majority to steamroll the minority.” He added: “I always had a love for great public policy questions and part of my 20’s were spent exploring lots of different areas of international policy and education.”
When asked about the current poor quality of education, Allen said, “We need to be a lot smarter about aligning our budget to the real needs of education, and try to cut some of the bureaucratic red tape which bogs the teachers down,” adding “We are not attracting the best teachers because if you look at the pay involved, there are other opportunities that pay more.
“We can do a lot to create a proper career track for teachers and I’d like to incorporate them as partners in policy-making decisions.” Allen admits that its hard to retain good teachers because of their frustration with the system due to the demands of state and federal laws.
Richard Bloom, Mayor Pro Tem had this to say about Allen: “I’m supporting Ben because he’s an energetic, young, intelligent, progressive individual who understands Santa Monica issues and has a lot to offer. He’s the kind of person who will work together with the other Board members to create a better environment for education here in the community.”
Having just completed a two-year term on the California Board of Regents, Allen believes his hands-experience, as well as his varied background and his deep roots in the community, more than qualifies him to serve on the School Board.
“I’m very grateful for the education that I got in our schools and I want the same for all our kids. I want to give back and play a positive role in this community, adding “The school board is not a glamorous position but it is a very substantial public service position.”
Allen is about to start work in a Santa Monica law firm specializing in commercial litigation, some government relations, and public policy work.