The upcoming Nov. 8 election offers an unprecedented choice of school board candidates this year.
Candidates and voters are well aware of the problems in our public schools. Poor literacy outcomes are at the top of the list for most, particularly for students leaving secondary schools without adequate English and math skills, limiting their opportunity to enter the job market or higher education.
As a candidate for the Santa Barbara County Board of Education Trustee Area 1, I offer choice and fresh ideas. My opponent, incumbent Marybeth Carty, was provisionally appointed in 2013.
Voters are looking for change and choice because the status quo is not working. Teachers and parents want a voice at the table. With the multifaceted problems, the common denominator is literacy; it’s the great equalizer.
I am the candidate who will reach across the aisle and include teachers and parents to be a part of the solution. I will be accessible and will listen.
The county Board of Education covers nearly two dozen school districts throughout the county with specific functions to serve the needs of the local districts by providing administrative, curriculum and instructional services.
One of them is helping our districts build and implement equitable, excellent instructional programs for all students in their local contexts. Between the schools, there is a lack of consistency.
The biggest problem, I believe, is the practice of tracking of non-English speakers at the elementary level. Currently, if a child speaks both English and Spanish, or Spanish only, they are placed in a different class than English-speaking students.
By the end of elementary school, many are so far behind in English, they can’t pass the English proficiency test. As an end result, they continue to be tracked into different classes in high school. Many of them finish school with poor English and math skills with few opportunities.
The county Education Office has many support programs, however, and could build a stellar literacy program as a model the school districts that are struggling in these areas could benefit from, encouraging some uniformity for providing better outcomes.
As a result of this weakness and lack of parent satisfaction in our schools, we continue to have declining enrolment with students lost to private, charter and homeschooling because of the lack of quality education.
Focusing on “values and politics” in schools, and emphasizing differences, has led to divisiveness with an increase in anxiety problems being seen in younger children.
Let’s get back to the basics and focus on English, math, science, and providing career pathways and training for students who are not college-bound. Students need engagement and options to succeed in their school journey or some of them end up in juvenile court schools the the county Educaiton Office oversees.
Public education is not free. Costs run about $23,000 in taxpayer dollars annually per student. We need to do better.
I am a parent and grandparent and an educational advocate of 30 years who left my professional career to be that PTA mom in the classroom.
Click here for more information on my diverse background.
I hope to earn your vote on Nov. 8 for county Board of Education Area 1.
— Rosanne Crawford is a candidate for Santa Barbara County Board of Education Trustee Area 1. The opinions expressed are her own.