Editor’s note: This is part of a series on local candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
Marybeth Carty is running for re-election as a trustee on the Santa Barbara County Board of Education against Rosanne Crawford.
And Ms. Carty, who has served on the board since being appointed in 2013, is proud of the board’s accomplishments.
“I have always been proud of the professionalism, collegiality and respect of my colleagues,” the Carpinteria resident told the News-Press, answering questions by email. “We may not always agree, but we trust that the intentions of each member are in the best interests of the students and (that) decisions are arrived at with a sense of duty, empathy, understanding of our oath as trustees and the role of the County Ed Office and fidelity to the CA education code.”
“We accomplished a lot during my tenure,” Ms. Carty said.
“As an appellate board, we were preparing to hold a public hearing on an appeal by Olive Grove Charter School, who had been denied charters at several districts, and anticipated an emotional response from the audience,” she recalled. “Over 200 community members showed up, and as chair, I was able to facilitate every request for public comment, often allowing extra time for parents, teachers and students to be heard.
“Ultimately, the board voted to deny the appeal, but after the meeting, several families and proponents came to me to thank me for the opportunity to speak,” Ms. Carty said. “Though disappointed, they felt heard and valued, and that was very important to me. It was an instructional and civil exchange of ideas, and I think it helped strengthen Olive Grove’s understanding of what was required to be granted a district charter.”
“When we are hearing an appeal for an Interdistrict Transfer, I pride myself on thoroughly reviewing the materials but maintaining objectivity in listening to both sides argue their cases,” Ms. Carty said. “When extenuating circumstances have not been factored into a district decision, there have been occasions when I have voted in favor of granting the appeal.
“As (board) president, I also received Bill Cirone’s notice of retirement. And in honoring his lifelong dedication to teachers and the profession, I created the Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award, which is given to a deserving educator each year who demonstrates the values of service, compassion and going the extra mile for kids,” said Ms. Carty.
She added that she is extremely proud of the board’s decision to select Dr. Susan Salcido as the county superintendent of schools.
“Susan’s intellect, deep experience and understanding of pedagogy, successful career pathway in teaching and administration, her stellar work at County Ed as deputy superintendent, her ability to lead by example, her professionalism, character, grace under pressure, supreme levels of dedication and cheerful optimism allowed her to soar to the top,” Ms. Carty said. “It was the best hire in my career.
“I’m also very proud of Operation Recognition, an event that we developed and initiated in 2018 to honor veterans who were unable to graduate from high school while serving their county faithfully. We hold a formal graduation ceremony with full pomp and circumstance and bestow upon them a high school diploma. Some diplomas are received posthumously.”
Ms. Carty identifies three reasons why she feels she would be better for the position than Ms. Crawford: experience, community and values.
“After serving in the role for nine years, I understand the functions, services and internal programs of SBCEO,” Ms. Carty said. “There is a tendency to conflate the issues of individual districts with the County Education office, but this office has circumscribed duties, authority and jurisdiction that don’t extend to all 20 of the widely divergent districts within the county that we support but do not govern.
“I have experience and familiarity with our budget and board policies,” she said. “My background in teaching, early childhood education, directing and administering educational programs for diverse and at risk youth, over 20 years of work with the nonprofit sector, 15 years in corporate philanthropy and social responsibility, and collaboration with multiple stakeholders has helped inform my perspective. I’m dedicated, accessible, fair, and I believe it is what has earned me such broad-based support.”
Secondly, she said she understands the importance of community.
“I have a deep, historical involvement in the community that centers students,” Ms. Carty said. “I volunteered in Santa Barbara County schools for over 30 years, held leadership positions in every parent group at every school my children attended, and I have vast experience with board governance.
“I am an executive committee member of the Santa Barbara Foundation Roundtable,” she continued. “My history of board involvement and leadership in organizations centers on support of children and family, such as: Partners in Education, Carpinteria Children’s Project, Carpinteria Education Foundation, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara and Carp Cares for Youth.
“I see my role on the Santa Barbara County Board as an advocate for students and families, an ambassador of County Ed and a conduit for parent concerns in my trustee area and beyond,” she said. “I am a longtime mentor to young women, and I am currently mentoring a sophomore through the Fighting Back Mentor Program, and have mentored young professional women through the Katherine Harvey Fellowship Program.”
Lastly, Ms. Carty explained her values.
“I stand firmly for inclusion,” she said. “Schools should be safe places for children and their families, and for teachers regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion. Schools should function as living labs for the principles of democracy in action, where respect, fairness, equality and equity is taught and modeled.
“Public education holds the power and potential to change lives, and all children have the right to every opportunity to learn in a way that is differentiated to meet their unique needs and learning style,” Ms. Carty said. “This is a tall order, and teachers need our support and partnership to succeed on multiple levels in a classroom.
“Test scores do not tell the whole story,” she said. “An observant teacher is assessing her/his students each day and recalibrating his/her lesson plans and execution for better outcomes. I believe in the education of the whole child — individualized, rigorous, effective academics, delivered without judgment or censure or a separate agenda, along with social and emotional education to prepare students for the world we live in.”
Ms. Carty said she looks forward to the countywide implementation of transitional kindergarten and its impact on early literacy programs, as well as adding to the county’s career technical education offerings. She also said she’s looking forward to furthering the Office of Education’s partnership with Santa Barbara County Probation in the transition of Los Prietos Camp “and providing a sound educational program for adjudicated youth in all our Juvenile Court and community schools that gives them marketable skills, a renewed sense of self, burgeoning confidence and optimism to meet their future.
“I am excited by our work in mental health and the collaboration the County Ed office is actively participating in to bring increased countywide mental health services and practitioners to each district,” Ms. Carty said.
“There is so much to be excited about!” she said. “ I do not see our schools as failing our students. Of course, we can do better, and we will do better, but there is not a silver bullet in this work that will fix everything, and it is counter-productive to suggest otherwise.”
Ms. Carty has two grown children and two grandchildren and has lived near the beach in Carpinteria for 45 years along with her husband of 41 years. Her entire immediate family followed her from New Jersey to California, where she moved to attend UCSB.