Newsmakers with JR
Salcido, Lozano Clash on Covid, Learning Loss, Race & Gender Teaching; Video's Here, ICYMI
Nearly 300 people watched the first and only campaign forum in the race for County Superintendent of Schools live online Tuesday night, as incumbent Susan Salcido and challenger Christy Lozano differed sharply on the direction of public education in local districts.
Terming her rival's criticisms "irresponsible" on several issues, Salcido pointed to evidence of small improvements in collective reading and math test scores for the county's 20 districts, while giving high marks to how local school boards and superintendents handled two years of pandemic and defending the push for programs and curriculum aimed at advancing equity in educational outcomes for minority and poor students.
Proclaiming "the fish rots from the head," Lozano pointed to low test scores that show half of county students do not read at grade level, and even fewer are proficient in math, as proof of the need for a total overhaul in local public education, which she said should be led by the superintendent as she accused Salcido of being "hidden" during the pandemic while local districts needlessly shut down schools and also said instruction about sex and gender should be ended.
The sharpest words of the 75-minute event focused on educational materials and instruction about racism, as Lozano said that white people are unfairly assailed in implicit bias and other trainings and alleged that "Critical Race Theory" is being taught in county schools; Salcido pushed back hard on the issue, saying the challenger was categorically wrong about CRT and accusing her of fueling "divisiveness" in the community.
Josh Molina has a good play-by-play report over at Noozhawk,
The forum, only one week before the June 7 primary, represented an 11th hour success for longtime education activist Lanny Ebenstein, who single-handedly brokered an agreement between the candidates to appear jointly at an online forum, after a planned League of Women voters event was cancelled because Lozano rejected the organization's long-time rules.
He also secured the sponsorships of two non-profits - the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association and The Resource Santa Barbara, which arranged and organized the Zoom affair. It drew a surprisingly large turnout, with at least 280 people calling in to watch the forum live.
So large was the audience that Ebenstein and Newsmakers' genial host, who served as co-moderator, were all but overwhelmed by the scores of proposed questions sent in by email before the event, and requested in the Zoom chat space in real time.
With mega-thanks to all of those who submitted questions, we're sorry that we couldn't get to all of them. Vox populi.
You can watch the Salcido-Lozano forum via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here.