Emily Zacarias says she plans to focus on diversity and the needs of special education students if elected to the Goleta School Board. 

She is running against Bert Haley and Christy Lozano for the District Area 3 seat.

Zacarias is endorsed by the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party and is looking to help students feel more included in the classroom.

“Diversity is what makes us humans,” Zacarias said. “It’s what makes us unique. Diversity is one of the cornerstones of Democracy. I don’t see any problem exposing our kids to what is their reality.”

In this podcast, Zacarias also talks about the conservative push against her.

Lozano ran unsuccessfully for the Santa Barbara County Office of Education superintendent’s seat in June and is now trying to win a seat on the school board.

She and Lozano live near each other in the same apartment building in Goleta. 

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Zacarias said she wants to focus on issues and not people or parties, but that she has had conversations with people on the campaign trail who have the wrong perception of what kids are learning in schools. 

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Zacarias said. “I think a lot of voters of a certain age group are scared that we are going to educate their children in the area of sexual education, at a young age that is inappropriate, and to be frank, some of them think we are going to teach their kids how to be gay.”

She said that people have told her that they are concerned the district is going to teach kids how to put “condoms on cucumbers.”

“It’s hard to hear that because none of that is happening in the Goleta School District.” Zacarias said. “We are a K-6 district.”

She said she’s been having conversations with people who are scared to help them understand what’s really happening on the ground.

Zacarias is also a longtime special education teacher, and said she wants to bring that focus to the district. 

“I’ve just really felt connected to people with disabilities,” Zacarias said. “I just feel like I want to help give them a voice. Sometimes they have just been overlooked. In the past, they have been institutionalized and hidden away, and it’s only been the past couple of decades that there has been such a change and a revolution of inclusion and these are human beings. It’s a civil rights issue.”

Consider a contribution to this podcast by clicking here. Subscribe to this podcast by clicking here. Josh Molina has been a journalist in Santa Barbara for 20 years. He also covered City Hall for the San Jose Mercury News. In addition to working as a reporter at Noozhawk, he teaches journalism at Cal State University, Northridge and Santa Barbara City College. Please subscribe to his You Tube channel for more content.