“Power tends to corrupt;, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
— Lord Acton
With so many people not voting or participating in politics, the people currently in office survive on perception and party politics. They provide as little info as possible and will not debate or engage with dissent.
You can’t blame the voter for disengaging when local, state and federal governments have grown so massive. It is impossible to keep up without it consuming your daily life. Legislators in Sacramento hardly understand the bills they write as most are written by staff and special interest groups.
With this overall lack of awareness comes a lack of interest from the news media and general population.
After the now-infamous tapes were released of the Los Angeles City Council, we got a glimpse of how current California elected officials speak to each other and keep power through redistricting schemes. Are things any different in the Democratic Party stronghold of Santa Barbara?
Santa Barbara schools are failing our Latino population. Why? Is it the constant stream of funding that comes with adding more programs to cover up the bad outcomes? Do they want our students to stay disadvantaged, so they get more Local Control and Accountability Plan money? Is this systemic racism?
Santa Barbara City College is still locked down to more than 4,000 students of its already record low enrollment. SBCC has spent unaccountable millions of dollars on “anti-racism” training for staff so now officials must convince you to vote to raise property taxes for infrastructure that is falling apart. This week, SBCC is spending $40,000 for a three-hour training session.
Once ranked as the top community college in the nation, this publicly funded campus is being greatly mismanaged by the current Board of Trustees.
Headlines around the country are talking about library books and curriculum in schools. Parents would not waste their time on this if they were not deeply concerned.
Recently, a flier was distributed that made local headlines with a scene from “Gender Queer,” a book in the Santa Barbara Unified School District library. The flier shows an illustrated sexual encounter during a Tinder date. The book’s author suggests that Tinder is a good place to “Find strangers to make out with.”
Most modern sex trafficking is initiated through social media. My wife works with local girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking. Our schools should not facilitate this tragic crime in any way.
When asked about the book, school district spokesman Nick Masuda stated to a local newspaper, “It’s healthy. I know teenagers are going to have sex. We adults may as well help them do it responsibly.”
With the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s handling of sex crimes with teachers and staff, I don’t think we can trust them with this life-changing subject.
I was one of the parents who pushed back on the Teen Talk curriculum and was shocked to see how a special interest group and one board member were able to convince the board to vote for it despite the massive pushback.
Teen Talk focuses on the how-to of sex and relationships, while parents wanted the focus to be on biology and physiology. We even provided an alternative that aligns with the California Healthy Youth Act and was free. The Santa Barbara Unified school board decided it wanted to pay for a highly controversial curriculum instead.
Parents were crushed after working so hard to get the school board to compromise with Teen Talk; providing an alternative curriculum, over-filling board rooms with parents, emails, hundreds of signatures on petitions, in-person meetings and phone calls were all completely disregarded.
The narrative against us still is “Don’t you want health education?” and “The kids are going to have sex anyway.” The hundreds of parents who wanted the HEART curriculum were the most informed on the subject and they had strong personal beliefs against Teen Talk. These concerns should have been acknowledged and not ridiculed.
Ethnic Studies was introduced with little pushback as a student-led movement through local nonprofit organizations.
After the sex curriculum fight was lost so badly, who wanted to be labeled a racist just to have the school ignore their concerns?
Unfortunately, like a lot of policy, Ethnic Studies is not really what it promises. One example of this is the book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” required in English 9: Ethnic Studies.
The book is a coming-of-age story in which Ari is peer-pressured into drugs and a sexual relationship with his best friend. He also considers heroin and foreshadows future use (pages 205, 206). I will not go into more graphic details; I encourage people to read it before they defend it.
Sacramento officials wanted to hide the most recent education data showing devastation by their COVID-19 pandemic policy. President Joe Biden asked Saudi Arabia to not release the OPEC decision until after the midterm elections, doctors in California are now being silenced. What else is the establishment hiding just to keep power?
In the Nov. 8 election, I urge you to help make a change for our future. We can send a message to the nation with our local elections by electing the political outsiders.
Please consider voting for Mike Stoker for Assembly to help bring balance and focus to Sacramento. Vote for the conservative candidates brave enough to run in Santa Barbara. You may not agree with everything they do, but they will bring much needed balance to the local boards. We can support them and keep them accountable by being present at the meetings and communicating with them regularly.
Crime and drug use is growing exponentially, our schools’ rankings are at the bottom, and homeless rates are at the top. We could provide excellent educations to all students, have diverse and abundant energy sources, water storage, forest management, and business-friendly policies ensuring security and opportunities for the future for all Californians.
I know California can do better, and it all starts at the local level.
Editor’s note: Justin Shores is founder of Stand Up Santa Barbara.