The Independent has endorsed the four incumbents running to remain on the Santa Barbara County Board of Education, something entirely within its prerogative.

As one of the challengers, I have difficulty with some of the points in the Independent’s narrative. The first is labeling all the challengers “ideological, right-wing conservatives” and stating that we want to cause “confusion” and “mischief.”

It is regrettable the Independent feels the need to politicize these school board races. I realize we’re running in a presidential year where partisan politics dominate media coverage. We must not allow national politics to get entangled with the problems confronting our schools, obscuring the real issues and challenges facing them. Perhaps one of the reasons we can’t improve school performance is that we allow partisan politics to divide us, so genuine reforms and solutions take a back seat to name-calling and incessant partisanship.

Second, I disagree with the chief rationale the Independent provides for these endorsements: “Why mess with success.” Does the Independent really believe the public schools in the county are performing well? By almost every measure, practically every major school district is failing the majority of its students. Test scores for many students in these districts are well below proficient; in some districts at least 70 percent of the students are below grade level in math, reading, and writing.

The Independent cited the agency’s fine performance “presiding over homeless and foster youth education.” Do they know that of the 175 students the County Education Office directly oversaw in 2018-19, zero percent met the standards for math proficiency and 5 percent for English?

Voters deserve better schools than what they are currently getting. There is absolutely no way this can happen if the same people who oversaw this sharp decline in our schools are kept in office for another term.

Lou Segal is running for a seat on the County Board of Education.


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