When Pedro Paz pulled papers to run for the Santa Barbara School Board, it looked like he might go uncontested. But the Goleta native — who graduated from Dos Pueblos High School and SBCC before earning a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in education from UCSB — had already amassed a war chest and successfully sought the endorsement of the current boardmembers, as well as the Democratic Party, by the time he met with The Santa Barbara Independent last week. With three new challengers jumping into the ring as of press time and current trustee Ed Heron defending his seat, Paz is starting to look well prepared.
Married to a district Spanish teacher, Paz said he had considered running for school board before leaving Santa Barbara in 2004 to serve as the executive director of First 5 Merced, a commission in that county funded by state tobacco taxes that provides programs and interventions to make sure children are kindergarten-ready by the time they turn 5. After returning to take a position as program evaluator with the same commission in Santa Barbara County and with the encouragement of friends and colleagues like 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and School Boardmember Monique Limón, Paz is making his move. “I think he has good early childhood education experience,” said Limón. “I value his expertise in assessment and evaluation.”
Growing up a Spanish speaker — Paz’s family settled in Goleta so his father could work in lemon groves — Paz didn’t become fluent in English until junior high school. “Will I bring that perspective? Of course I will,” said Paz, “but I would like to be seen as somebody who represents all kids.” Two of his signature concerns are boosting the use of technology in the classroom (on which he wrote his dissertation) and increasing parental involvement. His mother, he said, would always attend school meetings even though she didn’t understand a word. When he asked why, she replied, “Because it’s important.”