Phebe Mansur, a small business owner who operates CopyRight Printing Systems in Old Town Goleta, is hoping to bring her private sector experience to the Santa Barbara Unified School District board in her race to unseat one-term incumbent Rose Muñoz.
If elected, Ms. Mansur told the News-Press that her top three priorities will be to expand career technical education, reverse declining scores in literacy and mathematics, and improve school safety.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of commentary from independent commentators about school, school scores, and the declining trend in literacy and math — and what I was hearing from (them) matched what I was seeing here in my store with people that I was training and students that I was interacting with,” Ms. Mansur said of her decision to run for SBUSD Trustee Area 4. “ I think that I have a unique perspective as a business owner because I’m an end user. Small businesses employ almost half of the nation’s workforce, so small business owners like me are the ones that (non-college bound) students are going to.”
When asked how she believed K-12 education should look in our contemporary era, Ms. Mansur stated that more time should be dedicated to instructing students in core curriculum such as math and reading.
“I think something that we could do is conduct a critical assessment of how students’ time is spent during the school day … and carve out an extra 30 minutes to allocate for reading and extra 30 minutes for math.” she said. “Because the numbers have just come out recently, and they’re abysmal. Particularly, we’ve seen a significant drop in third grade with reading, and that’s the age where it’s most critical that they’re gaining that skill.”
Ms. Mansur also believes that it is time to move past the mindset that K-12 education should solely be geared toward preparing students for a four-year college experience, and instead focus on providing a wide range of employment opportunities post-high school graduation.
“When (high school students) graduate, they should be competent in the core subjects so that they’re immediately employable or ready for college,” she said. “In communities where they have strong career technical education, studies show that there is not a decline in students who attend college — they’re providing students with opportunity … You’re either going to go to college or you’re not, and those kids who are not aren’t being given opportunities to learn what other careers are out there.”
While Ms. Mansur said that she views teachers unions as a net positive for K-12 education, she also expressed support for charter schools, saying that they “challenge school districts to do a better job.”
She also strongly supports parental involvement in education, stating that “there’s a direct connection between parents who are engaged with their children’s education and those whose parents are not,” and that parents have a right to know and make decisions about what their students are being offered in terms of curriculum.
One area where Ms. Mansur believes parental involvement in education is essential relates to sexual health education, a topic she believes has played a large role in the nationwide trend of hostile interactions between communities and local school boards.
“In Santa Barbara, there’s been a lot of pushback from parents objecting to the health curriculum that’s Santa Barbara board has endorsed called Teen Talk,” she said. “There is an alternative, and it’s called HEART (Health Education and Relationship Training) and it is approved by the California Healthy Youth Act. That act states that parents should be included in the selection of the sexual health curriculum, and from what I can see, that’s not happening.”
“The schools have graphic novels, some I’ve seen and held in my hands, (that) would have been considered pornographic (when I was in school),” she continued. “I would remove that. That’s not what kids are in school for. They’re in school to learn the core subjects: reading, math and science.”email: firstname.lastname@example.org