As we enter the last weeks before the Nov. 6 election, the race for the Santa Barbara school board has become more competitive and politicized.
Amid a lack of widespread and sustained local news coverage, some of us working to bring awareness of the importance of electing accountable school board members have become concerned about some of the misinformation we have heard in recent days about our group.
These are the facts:
Save Our Schools is an ad hoc committee representing a wide range of concerned parents, educators and community members in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. We came together as a result of the firing of Ed Behrens, an incident that was handled poorly and showed a lack of responsiveness, communication and transparency from Board Members.
We came together, we mobilized and we discovered that our schools had some serious problems well beyond what we had ever imagined. This incident helped illuminate issues inside the Santa Barbara Unified School District that affect students throughout the district.
We are not a political organization. We are not a partisan group. We are not behind any lawsuits. We are parents, educators and community stakeholders who are in the district. We want the best, not just for our children, but also for every child in the district.
We believe that the school board should be a transparent and responsive government.
We believe that every student should be given the opportunity to succeed.
We believe that regardless of your economic status, you have a voice in our public school system.
We believe that the educational outcomes for students should be the lens through which we make our decisions.
We believe that tax dollars should be spent effectively and efficiently with our students and teachers as our priority.
All of these, we were surprised to find, are actually part of the mission statement of the SBUSD Board. However, the district has neglected these priorities.
At first we considered a recall, but after some discussion, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to work within the standard democratic process to elect board members who were strong and caring leaders.
We wanted to encourage a dialogue in the community and raise the profile of the issues afflicting the district.
The school board should not be partisan, and people should look beyond their political party's endorsement.
This year there are more candidates for school board than in the last two elections combined and we are proud to have contributed to the democratic process.
We looked at a number of possible school board candidates and felt that Kate Ford and Mark Alvarado are the right choices for our district.
Kate Ford has spent over 40 years in education and is the most qualified person to run for school board in recent memory. Mark Alvarado is a tough-minded community leader who asks tough questions and makes sure the people get the answers they deserve.
With these two strong leaders on the board, we believe that the Santa Barbara Unified School District will be in a far better place and poised to make the tough decisions necessary to ensure a better future for our district and our students.
Tony Winterbauer, a Save Our Schools committee member, served on the Hope School Board for 11 years.
Newsmakers welcomes op-ed submissions from individuals and organizations involved in policy and political debates in the community. Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images: Tony Winterbauer; logo of "Save Our Schools."