Westchester: New class president has family history grounded in political activism
By Gary Walker
In politics, it’s never too early to start.
Tara Kane-Donnelly, 10, is getting an early jump on a possible career in public life. She is the president of Westport Heights Elementary School in Westchester, winning office on the same day that President Barack Obama was reelected.
While the U.S. president’s reelection was historic, at Argonaut press time, due to the holidays, it could not be verified if Tara is the youngest president ever to take office on the same day of the election of the nation’s leader.
“I ran because a lot of my friends wanted me to,” the new school president told The Argonaut.
While President Obama promised to bring back fairness to the middle class, Tara also won her classmates votes by promising to work to bring back a few important items that her Westport Heights constituents wanted: Dr. Seuss Week, coffee cake and chicken wings.
“We campaigned for a week,” she said.
Young Tara is the daughter of Kelly Kane, a Westchester mother who was at the forefront of pushing the Los Angeles Unified School District to give Westchester schools autonomy in hiring their own principals and making their own budget decisions at the local school sites five years ago.
After initially agreeing to the proposal, LAUSD subsequently disbanded the office that would oversee Westchester autonomy.
Here is the speech that is believed to have locked up the race:
“I’m Tara Kane Donnelly, and I’m running for President of Westport Heights Elementary School.
This is my seventh year at Westport, and in that time these are the best test scores our school has ever had. But, I think we can do even better!
“Here’s my idea: if kids get more excited about going to school and learning, maybe we’ll get better test scores! The way to do that is to make school more fun.”
“I’ve been listening to your ideas and there’s been a lot. I’m going to try to make school more fun for you. Some of your ideas included bringing back coffee cake and chicken wings to the cafeteria. The line for those foods used to wrap around the school. Somebody else asked to bring back Dr. Seuss Week. Nobody would be absent because they wouldn’t want to miss out on all the fun.”
Kane is not surprised that her daughter is displaying political prowess. During the years fighting for autonomy, Tara and her brother Liam could often be seen trailing alongside their mother at various events.
“Not only is she proactive, energetic and enthusiastic, but she’s been training for this her whole life,” Kane said with a laugh.
Tara is learning that bureaucracy at all levels can sometimes be slow. She has contacted LAUSD officials to have coffee cake and chicken wings reinstated but has not heard back from them.
There was one sad note to Tara’s victory. “I had to run against some of my friends,” she said. Such is life at the top.