DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan
People all over America are waking up and have become aware of the direction and dereliction of our nation’s public schools.
With the spotlight now focused upon the actions of our county and city school boards and the status quo with which its business has been run, the present stakes for our students and the policies that are being foisted upon them requires full attention by all interested parties.
This business has been conducted for the most part under the radar. Now, for the sake of our children and for local and national interest, we must remain vigilant in our scrutiny of the American public school systems — and Santa Barbara is no exception.
A place to start would be examining the rights of parents in determining the parameters of their children’s education and how school boards, superintendents and principals and teachers’ unions work to thwart parents’ rights. Another threat would be the secrecy imposed by password-protected curricular and teacher-training materials to prevent parents from understanding what is actually being taught to their children. This imposition of non-approved, non-required subject matter by merging it with required and approved curricular subjects has become an abomination.
For example, a non-approved module on “Ethnic Studies,” another name for Critical Race Theory, has been merged with ninth-grade English to make this racial indoctrination a required subject.
Another important issue are these dictatorial school boards, who suppress not just parents’ and teachers’ input, but also concerned and qualified community members. This input includes proposals and objections to non-academic racial, sexual, and social indoctrination, provided by politically motivated contractors at an enormous expense, imposed secretly and by fiat.
The self-serving behavior of the board members needs to be replaced with more humility and respect to people they serve. What qualifies these board members to think that they have all the wisdom and that they have the last word, without the need for intelligent community input?
In fact, Santa Barbara Unified School District board member Laura Capps, at a meeting when asked if she thought the schools were better qualified than parents to know what was best for their children, replied that yes, definitely, the school knows what is best for the children. Remember, she ran unopposed for the county board of supervisors, and she takes her seat in January 2023
We need to insist on an independently conducted root cause analysis of the reasons for California schools to be consistently failing in performance of students through all grade levels in the fundamental building blocks of essential learning in English Language and Mathematics.
The comparators to be used in this analysis should not be other failing schools in California, but benchmark performance schools in America and other countries that demonstrate high levels of learning performance. Otherwise, we continue with the same failed policies that have kept California in the lower quadrant of performance nationwide for decades.
Some of the areas to be examined by an independent analysis, would be the correct, audited management of a $1 billion annual budget at county, district and school levels. With particular emphasis on contracts with qualified and unqualified vendors, non-competitive awards of contracts and the use of multiple non-compete contracts split into less than $10,000 pay-outs. It would include the signing of automatically renewing contracts that remain in place year after year.
The whole idea of annual contracts is to review the performance of the position whose contract is up for renewal.
Why does the Santa Barbara Unified School District even need the annual services of an exclusive political lobbyist in Sacramento, especially one connected with the former California secretary of education? This is one of the self-renewing never-ending contracts that has been in operation at $3,000 per month for eight years, for a total of $288,000 and still running. Do the math for 58 counties in California. Why do the schools’ systems need a lobbyist in Sacramento at all?
The only reason we can think of, is to maintain the power of the school unions. The same unions who supported the teachers to remain on Zoom and out of the classroom, and kept the schools without in-person instruction, while other schools nationwide returned much sooner than California. This sadly set our students back even further.
Did you know that a month ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a 10% increase in this year’s budgets for community colleges and grade schools to a record level of $128 billion? The increase in funding for grade schools raises the annual spending to $73.4 billion.
We, the taxpayers, as the investors in a school system are not allowed a voice in how it is spent! More money is not the answer to correct the long-standing failures in our schools.
While we are on the subject of civil discourse, when conducting government business, lately we have noticed that when community input is raised, which doesn’t align with the Santa Barbara City Council’s proposals, it is labeled a letter of protest.
The word protest is too strong and inaccurate. It has a connotation that leans toward domestic terrorism. When people disagree, it may be an objection or a show of non-support. We would like to see such language changed to what it is.
For instance, one can “object” to a proposed hike in rates for water and trash collection. That is hardly a “protest,” but the letters of objection are being labeled as letters of “protest.”
Did You Know? is pleased to see that a committee has been formed to restore Santa Barbara’s community spirit, equity, vibrancy and prosperity. They operate with the premise that since Santa Barbara is known for its beauty and unique environment, why not work to preserve and maintain that which has always been Santa Barbara’s signature style?
They propose to keep State Street closed to private automobiles while adding an Open-Air Trolley, which will provide essential transportation service and “bring regular and predictable energy along the full length of State Street … that helps promote restaurants and business by increasing visibility.”
That idea would involve pushing the parklets off the street and onto the sidewalk, more Euro-style.
They also promote the idea of making the permitting for outdoor dining on the public sidewalk expeditious and at low cost. They want to assist and expedite restaurants to get their dining-on-the-sidewalk, then assist them to clear and clean the street to make the switch.
This would allow us to go back to our historic and traditional use of State Street for parades and other celebrations.
Let’s hope the Santa Barbara City Council pays more attention to this group than the Santa Barbara Unified School District board has paid to its community input.
Another community issue in need of attention, is the fact that 600-plus local kids are getting denied field space at Santa Barbara Junior High School to play their Friday Night Lights. This organization began in 2017 but was shut down for two years due to COVID-19.
Now that the kids can play again, the SBUSD board has denied them the right, at the request of the Marjorie Luke Theatre community, which objects to the Friday night field events over vying for parking spots.
Superintendent Hilda Maldonado claims that she advocates for the children, but all she accomplishes here is a terrible pitting of the arts against the sports. It creates further community division and denies the children a chance to play ball with their parents cheering them on. This is a direct assault on family values.