Friday, November 16 , 2018, 10:28 am | Fair 67º


Letter to the Editor: Santa Barbara School District Must Refocus on Excellence

My 37 years of experience in education, most recently as a vice president of education services-California for Edison Schools Inc., has shown me that in order to serve children and their parents well, a district must unite under a common vision of excellence. Teachers and principals all must be relentless in never letting any child slip behind — often opening after-school, Saturday and summer programs to make sure all students are progressing on target. A school board must also unite in its policy and budgetary decisions to support that vision of excellence and equity for all.

The Santa Barbara School Districts have that vision under Superintendent Brian Sarvis. Board decisions made to support that vision, however, have often been decided on a 4-1 vote, with Robert Noel as the contrary vote.

As the former assistant superintendent of secondary education for the district from 2004-2007, I had three years of firsthand experience with Noel as a school board member. His ego-driven actions and votes have served mainly himself and a small minority of contrarian followers. He sees this as his civic duty. I saw it as divisive and harmful to the larger public need to enact powerful and intelligent policy. To change the Santa Barbara School District, a district that needs to provide a focused education to all children, leaders must unite, work together and lead together. That will not happen with a board member who asks for hours of work time from district leadership to track down information that only serves his interest and private agenda. Noel’s antics are legend in the SBSD office. One need only ask. His recent actions are transparent. His childish retribution for having his charter proposal turned down (by the local board and the state Board of Education) has played out in a childish call at a recent board meeting for Sarvis’ resignation.

It is time to get rid of distractions and to focus on excellence. Noel must resign or be recalled.

Jan Zettel

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