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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 8:20 am | Fair 47º


Letter to the Editor: Where’s the Decorum in Noel’s Constant Attacks?

Santa Barbara School District Superintendent Brian Sarvis deserves our respect and support for undertaking on a daily basis the nearly impossible dream of quality education in California. And school board member Bob Noel’s treatment of Sarvis in a recent editorial in another publication is a perfect example of intellectual myopia and self interest.

To begin with, Noel describes a school system blighted by grossly inadequate funds, challenged by numerous constituencies and abused by more regulation than the federal government, and then wholly ignores the impact of these things on Sarvis’ daily work life. According to Noel, anything and everything that goes wrong is Sarvis’ fault. Noel’s on the school board: does he accept any responsibility for these problems? Did he ever discuss the pandemic nature of these problems across large sections of the state, implying by his failure to do so that the Santa Barbara School District is uniquely challenged instead of the victim of systemwide problems?

Let me remind Noel of his pledge during one of his campaigns:

“My direct approach on the board has contributed to a more open and better informed education policy-making process. I believe that candor — always with decorum — serves the public interest and strengthens institutions of local governance in public education.”

Noel’s article in the Santa Barbara News-Press utterly fails his “always with decorum” standard. In the past several weeks he has walked out of at least two board meetings that I know of. This is not anyone’s idea of decorum. Could it be that his disputatious role on the board is a more relevant problem than Sarvis’ leadership?

My mother was blacklisted by people who commandeered the public forum for their own political interests. Her testimony to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1953 did little to get her career back. Noel’s editorial is dangerously close to the standard McCarthy strategy. Noel should apologize to Sarvis and to the broader community for his unrelenting lack of decorum on the school board and for his unwillingness to acknowledge his role in the shortcomings of the district.

Michael Jaffe
Santa Barbara

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