The California Voting Rights Act was created to ensure that protected classes — low income, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color) — had opportunities for equitable representation at all levels of elected government. Sadly, this was done because history has demonstrated that when up to the ruling class, protected class voices are unfairly drowned through racist policies. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself with the new redrawn maps for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
Current maps drawn by Cooperative Strategies belittle the voices of the protected class while lifting the voices of the wealthy communities within the district. Pairing low-income, Latinx, immigrant neighborhoods with multimillion-dollar households is a dangerous scenario that will wipe any real chance of representation for both the Eastside and Westside neighborhoods. And although the district consists of 60 percent of Latinx students, not one map fairly protects their choices for representation.
What’s worse is the discourse happening at school board meetings. One commentator went on to speak about the need to stop bussing kids from wealthy neighborhoods to low-income neighborhoods, to maintain them within their school boundary lines, and that this disrupts the harmony among communities. Fortunately, schools don’t vote, people do.
Sad to say that I am not surprised with these comments. This is the same language being used across the country by right wing activist to elicit fear and anger. It’s dangerous rhetoric that is xenophobic, borders racism and resembles the previous administration’s “send them back to their country” comments.
This is not what the California Voting Rights Act was intended to be or do. This discussion should be civil and mindful of those who have been unfairly underrepresented. Equity in representation is necessary to protect the interests of all students.
I am asking the district reject all current maps drawn by Cooperative Strategies and to allow residents to create their own maps. Lastly, I urge the Board of Trustees to create minority majority districts that gives protected classes the opportunity for fair representation.