In March 2018, the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) voted to demote the now-former San Marcos principal. The vote roared to life the “Save Our School” (SOS) electoral slate to oppose the very school board members who made the decision through a very challenging vote. Although I applaud parents for their commitment and engagement, the very slate fails to see beyond the vote and more pressing systemic issues affecting the school district.
Leaders come and go, yet systemic barriers that prevent youth from succeeding academically persist. Take the A-Gs, courses needed to qualify to apply to a four-year school, for example. In 2017, 68.4 percent of white students complete these courses while only 32 percent of Latino students completed these same courses. This disparity should be a concern to all parents. Instead of focusing a slate around one school leader, let’s focus on electing candidates who demonstrate the ability to tackle complex issues like academic disparities.
When asked about the academic disparities, board candidate Mark Alvarado stated that Latinos needed to stop playing the “victim card” and, instead, showcase Latino/a success through documentaries. I’m sorry, Mark, but academic disparities exist that prevent Latino/as from succeeding including institutional barriers. No one is playing the victim card; systemic barriers are a reality for countless students in our district.
This November, let’s elect candidates who think beyond one leader. This November, let’s look forward, ask tough questions, and seek candidates that endorse education policies that reduce the academic achievement gap.