Oh, if only children came with a do-it-yourself manual, the whole child-rearing thing would be so much simpler — possibly even foolproof. But that is a pipe dream. Raising children is complicated. Joyous certainly, and at times overwhelming, but undeniably the single most important job us parents will ever do.

My husband, Scott, our daughters, Maia, age 11, and Julia, 8, and I were fortunate to attend Carpinteria’s Lou Grant Parent Child Workshop. I include all four of us in this fortune because not only did our children benefit from this unique and brilliant preschool, Scott and I flourished as parents. We learned parenting techniques in the weekly meetings that, to this day, are the mainstay of our family philosophy.

The greater Santa Barbara area is uniquely gifted with four Parent Child Workshops (PCWs). These schools are an incredible opportunity for parents to receive weekly parenting information from highly qualified PCW directors. These directors bring a wealth of education and practical experience to adults who are often learning to parent for the first time or, perhaps, are learning to parent again as more children join our families. With the addition of each child and with the passing of each year, the opportunities and challenges we face as parents are many and are often mind-boggling.

We have been lucky, though, for those of us who want to roll up our sleeves and participate in the workshops, attend weekly parenting classes and work alongside these dedicated educators, there is a wellspring of qualified professional and peer support available through the SBCC-funded PCWs.

It is very out of character for me to involve myself politically, but the upcoming SBCC board election is, to me, about the preservation of education, not a conversation on politics. The incumbent board has and intends to continue drastically cutting funds for our PCWs to the point that they may not survive. That would be a tragic loss. For Scott and me, our years at LGPCW are an invaluable component of who we are as parents.

I urge you to educate yourselves before you vote. Citizens4Sbcc.org has identified four candidates running for election this November who are dedicated to preserving our PCWs.

These cooperative preschools and parent education programs are an absolute jewel. Nowhere else are children given such a beautiful safe space to just be kids, while simultaneously their parents learn comprehensive parenting techniques.

I don’t know about you, but without that manual, who couldn’t use some extra help?

Sarah Hinton