Brian Campbell: Concerned parents are not the story of the Santa Barbara Unified School District | Opinions
In response to Noozhawk’s April 13 article, “Tensions Flare Up as Public Returns to Santa Barbara School Board Meeting,” I’m not sure I understand the reporter’s emphasis on me and one of the issues I raised during public comments, rather than the actual points I was making.
I spoke on two subjects that evening. The first concerned the rate of local teenage suicides and attempts reported by Noozhawk on February 9.
This story, by the same reporter, quoted Santa Barbara Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Frann Wageneck said the district had “experienced 56 ‘cases of suicide'” in the first half of the 2021-2022 school year.
To put that into context, in the 2017-18 school year, the district reported 70 “incidents” of suicide for the entire year, compared to 56 in a single semester this year.
Noting that there have been “86 crises in 90 days” and that nearly 700 students were referred to on-campus or off-campus counseling, Wageneck acknowledged, “We have a public health crisis in our community.”
These are life and death issues that affect our children.
The reporter, however, apparently did not consider parents’ concerns about teenage suicide cases and their causes worth mentioning in his 900-word story, while making sure to point out that I had already been candidate for public office, including school. plank.
At the same April 12 black board meeting, the district revealed that 12 race-related incidents were reported over a three-week period.
“This country didn’t want to deal with this for many years,” the reporter said, quoting school board vice president Wendy Sims-Moten. “If we don’t want to keep repeating history or going around in circles, then it’s time to talk about it.”
But the reporter failed to mention that for two decades the district has given Just Communities Central Coast more than $1 million over the years for ethnic studies on our campuses. Does Sims-Moten mean Just Communities’ policies and ethnic formation are a failure?
The reporter further said, “Throughout the pandemic, a group of parents and activists who speak out regularly have regularly lambasted board members via Zoom over COVID mask and vaccine mandates. -19.”
Parents have been upset with COVID-19 policies because the school board and SBUSD administration have admitted to using CNN articles and opinion pieces in developing their COVID-19 policies – not science and data.
To date, the district has ignored numerous requests for data to support its positions and policies from the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention or the Food and drug administration. Why not? Did the Noozhawk reporter ask the district about this?
A local emergency physician spoke at this latest school board meeting, saying no child had been admitted to hospital in two years as a result of COVID-19 and there were no coronavirus-related deaths of otherwise healthy children.
And yet, there is an ongoing suicide crisis in our schools. Has the journalist done any follow-up reporting since his February 9 article?
The reporter reiterated that district’s failing academics, which have been a problem long before COVID-19.
“According to STAR winter testing, about 80 percent of white students in grades three through six met or exceeded their class’s reading standards,” he wrote. “About 79% of Asians in these classes met or exceeded the standard, while only 35% of Latino students met or exceeded the standard, and 22% of Black students met the reading standard.”
And that “619 students, as of April 7, have been considered “emerging language learners” for at least six years. Board member Virginia Alvarez asked why so many students were still learning English after six years.
California is last in the United States for academics, despite having one of the largest economies in the world. How is it going ? And why are only seven out of 10 Hispanic children able to succeed academically after decades under this regime?
Why does the media disparage parents who worry about failing academics, rising teenage suicides, and racial injustices, but rarely hold those who are actually responsible for anything close to accountability ?
It’s too bad that when school board members are asked about their achievements, it is never about academics. As the district’s dismal student test results show, it’s because this board and this administration have a failing grade. Instead, they point out that they’re “going solar” and built a $39 million football stadium at a high school.
The journalist is right in his opening sentence: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
And I agree with Superintendent Hilda Maldonado when she replied “there has to be a change”. Do you do you think there needs to be a change in our school district?
– Brian Campbell is a Santa Barbara Unified School District parent. The opinions expressed are his own.