Candidate says schools can be better
Editor’s note: This is part of a series of interviews with local candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
Citing a “crisis in public education,” Rosanne Crawford has announced her run for Santa Barbara County Board of Education, Trustee Area 1.
“I care deeply about education. Students are struggling, particularly with English and math. I do believe we can do better,” Ms. Crawford told the News-Press.
Ms. Crawford is running against incumbent Marybeth Carty.
“I have been involved and followed education for over 30 years,” said Ms. Crawford, a team member of The Coalition for Neighborhood Schools.
She stressed the need to make local schools better.
“Schools are struggling, and parents are fed up with school boards and administrations acting in their own benefit. It’s gotten to the point where the teacher’s unions are appalled.
“Many have chosen private and charter schools. Charter school enrollment is up by 7%,” the Santa Barbara resident said. “But what about the ones that can’t afford private schools? More families are homeschooling.
“The Santa Barbara public schools have failed many of our students, particularly the most challenged and disadvantaged,” she said. “Our schools are almost 80% Latino, and many students are not meeting state averages for proficiency in these areas.
“You might have heard there was a slight gain in achievement in the past year however. The bottom line is the scores were averaged over all schools so it skewed the real picture because there are only a handful of schools performing above the state average. Most are below,” said Ms. Crawford.
“We really do have a crisis in public education,” she said.
Since the pandemic began, more than 1.2 million students have left the public school system, according to data from the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker.
Ms. Crawford also said she wants to focus on transparency in areas such as the budget. In particular, she’s concerned about funding for the Local Control Accountability Program, which is taxpayer money from the state of California.
LCAP is targeted for lower socio-economic groups (60% or more in Santa Barbara are lower socio economic), children with learning differences and special needs (dyslexia, ADD, etc.), homeless and foster youth and English Language Learners, defined as those who do not have proficient command of English.
ELLs are not necessarily immigrants but are often citizens born into a first-generation family. The Board of Education has control of approving all LCAP budgets in county schools, according to Ms. Crawford.
“I want to see a line item budget just as though it was a business,” Ms. Crawford said. “You need accountability. Otherwise money can get moved around. I want to see a line-item, instead of an intention of how the money is to be spent. The county board of education oversees a budget of $100 million, 20 school districts and 500 employees. There are a lot of things that need to be done. I want to work in the areas of literacy, transparency and parent/teacher partnerships.”
Ms. Crawford said she recognizes the importance of language programs.
“I was raised in a bilingual household, and we spoke both English and Spanish,” she said. “I did not realize what an asset this was until my adulthood.”
Ms. Crawford also addressed the need for transparency in public access to school board meetings: “They need to livestream the meetings with an option of participation, and meetings should be recorded to hold them accountable.”
“My husband and I are longtime residents invested in our community with grown children and young grandchildren. Our children attended public schools and have accomplished professional careers after SBCC, UCSB, UCLA, Cal State LA and Duke University. We believe in and support public education for all,” said Ms. Crawford.
“I left a professional career as a radiation protection specialist for the state of California, Department of Health Services to be able to be the PTA mom in my children’s schools through their elementary years,” she noted. “While raising my children I worked part time as a clinical instructor for the Radiologic Technology Program at Santa Barbara City College. When my children were older, I established a small business, Childtime Professional Nanny Placement Service LLC that I ran for 30 years. I personally would interview all my nannies and sought out those that were developmentally focused,” said Ms. Crawford.
She was previously on the Santa Barbara/ Puerto Vallarta Sister City committee and has served as the director of the Student Exchange Program. “It was so rewarding to see the growth and increased confidence in students after their cultural experience,” she said.
The News-Press asked Ms. Crawford about what she hopes to accomplish if elected to the county Board of Education.
“There are a lot of things we can do,” she said.
Her primary goals include setting up electronic tutoring assistance on the Board of Education website, specifically in English and math. She also wants to establish afterschool centers at every school so that students can get help with homework.
She promises to bring fresh ideas and promote the community’s educational goals if she is elected to replace Ms. Carty, who has held the seat for 20 years.