On June 7, voters in the California Primary Election will, for the first time in decades, have a choice about the direction of education in Santa Barbara County. The decision in question: who will best represent parents, students, and taxpayers as our next Superintendent of Schools?
Much is at stake. For far too long, public education in the United States has been defined by partisanship, with union interests superseding and dominating all other considerations. As a candidate for Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools, Christy Lozano presents a major challenge to that structure, and would eliminate partisan interests and influence in a key county within the unions’ most politically strategic state.
The threat this represents to the status quo cannot be overstated. In having placed herself squarely in the crosshairs of those who benefit from the current partisan design, Christy Lozano has been fielding all manner of increasingly desperate attempts to thwart the election of someone who would deliver education away from the Democratic Party-backed union machine and back to the students, parents, and taxpayers: “Santa Barbara School Teacher’s Rant is All Wrong”, they say, or “Christy Lozano Would be a Terrible Superintendent of Schools.”
Really? At a time of unprecedented crises in public education, it’s difficult to fathom how anyone who is awake, sober, and paying attention could make the case that what is required is more of the same myopic mismanagement, anti-parent/anti-student racketeering, and utter incompetence that has brought us to this point – and keeps us here.
Could Christy Lozano’s stated intention to refocus the Superintendent’s mission to one that reflects the interests of parents and students in a nonpartisan framework, be the real problem that those in the pockets of the unions have with Ms. Lozano? It’s hard to understand their point of view in any other terms.
Despite spending more on education than any other country on Earth, only 37 percent of American graduating high school seniors are sufficiently literate to enter college; performance in mathematics is equally abysmal. California ranks dead last among all 50 states in functional literacy among adults.
Here at home, over half of the more than 67,000 students in Santa Barbara County public schools are performing below state achievement levels. One need barely scratch the veneer to discover the culprit: the largest and most powerful union in the country, the National Education Association (NEA), and it’s California affiliate, the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), consistently fight education reform and aggressively lobby against reform minded candidates.
Together, these behemoths contribute millions of dollars to the Democratic Party, politicizing education in the process. Once elected, the recipients of that money ensure that education is run for the benefit of those who got them elected – not the taxpayers who fund education, not the parents whose children are its purported reason for being, not even the teachers – at least not the legions of teachers who are committed to serving with excellence and find themselves in an uphill battle against a system designed to accommodate the lowest common denominator.
It isn’t at all surprising to find Christy Lozano’s candidacy opposed by those who built, maintain, and profit from our current dysfunctional system. For the moneyed interests that dominate education at the expense of those it should serve; for those who consistently place their own interests over those of the parents who pay their salaries and the students whom they view as nothing more than a pretext for doing so, Christy Lozano would indeed “be a terrible superintendent of schools.” For the rest of us, however, she is our best hope for the future of education.