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Santa Barbara County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for Lou Segal

Candidate for
Board Member; Santa Barbara Unified School District

This information is provided by the candidate

Most people in Santa Barbara are aware that our schools are not performing as well as they should be. However, when I proceed to tell them that in many grades in the Santa Barbara schools more than half of the students are not proficient in math and/or English, there is great surprise. That surprise usually leads to shock when I also tell them that less than a third of the high school graduates are able to complete two years of postgraduate education and up to 90% of high school graduates require remedial instruction in English and math in our community colleges. Despite school spending increases in excess of the rate of population growth plus inflation since 1990, student test scores and academic achievement have declined sharply.

Unfortunately, our schools still operate as if they were still in the last century. Out teacher unions resist the most commonsensical reforms, and the school bureaucracy and school board members lack the imagination and the courage to reform the antiquated tenure and seniority rules.

It has been well-documented by many academic and research studies that the most important school factor in determining whether a child will succeed in school is the quality of the teaching. It has been shown that a great teacher can increase the likelihood of a child's success by three times.

To hire and retain the best teachers, we must be able to dismiss ineffective teachers and reward the most effective. In Santa Barbara, there was only one teacher fired due to performance related issues in the last five years. In most schools, 100% of teachers receive the same satisfactory grade, even though it is highly unlikely that all teachers are performing at the same level. Incredibly, until last year, credentialed and tenured teachers were only evaluated once every five years in the Santa Barbara District. High-performing teachers are often paid less than their less accomplished colleagues due to their lack of seniority. A particularly egregious incident resulting from these misguided rules occurred in 2010 when the Santa Barbara County Teacher of the year was dismissed because of her lack of seniority.

School board members must not be afraid to speak out about these issues. It is critically important that we implement a tightly-integrated, highly effective system for hiring, training, evaluating and retaining the very best teachers. In addition to implementing a performance-based system for teachers, we also need to ruthlessly examine all aspects of school curriculum to see where we can improve its content and its delivery to students. It is simply unacceptable to have almost half of our elementary students unable to write a coherent sentence or perform basic math.

Currently, we have a school board that has voted in favor of Propositions 30, 38 and Measures A&B, all proposals to increase your taxes. Proposition 38 would increase income taxes for residents with income in excess of $7,000. Although per pupil spending in the Santa Barbara School District has increased by approximately $400 in the last 4 years, this has not kept the Board from requesting more taxes from an increasingly financially burdened population. What we have never seen is a Board that has suggested or made mention of any of the educational reforms recommended by most of the leading experts in the educational field today.

Many of the Santa Barbara School Board members are endorsed by and have received money from the teacher unions. Therefore, although they negotiate teacher wages, benefits and work rules, they are not likely to fairly represent their constituents, particularly the parents and the children, while beholden to their labor union donors.

I ask for your vote, so I can represent the students, parents and taxpayers, who are tired of all the excuses and are unwilling to accept the poor performance of our schools. Together with your help and support, we can implement the long overdue reforms and make sure all children are getting an excellent education that prepares them for the challenges awaiting them in the 21st Century.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 28, 2012 14:25
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