SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

The three contenders for the District 1 seat on Santa Barbara Unified's school board on Monday night sparred over whose life experience best qualifies them to help address the seemingly intractable disparity in education achievement between Latino and white students.

In what has emerged as a marquee local race in the November 8 election campaign, retired educator Efigenia Banales, student affairs professional Gabe Escobedo and non-profit executive and parent Dan La Berge met, virtually, for a third time, in a debate co-sponsored by Newsmakers and Josh Molina's "Santa Barbara Talks" podcast.

As a political matter, the three-way campaign in the recently created District 1 is significant, not only as the most high-profile demonstration of SBUSD's new neighborhood district voting system, but also as the contest that will decide representation for the only one of five districts with a majority minority population, speaking for much of the Eastside, Westside and downtown.

Fittingly, much of the discourse focused on the challenge of improving the academic performance of Latino pupils, as each of the rivals offered a different perspective on the key underlying problems.

  • Banales argued that it was a shortage of classroom "resources," calling for teachers to be supported and backed up by classroom paraprofessionals;

  • Escobedo pointed to "systemic racism" in the public education delivery system, proposing a series of changes, beginning with new standardized tests that reflect the lived experience of minority students;

  • La Berge traced the gap largely to differences in "parental engagement," with privileged white families having more time and resources to be involved with their kids' schools and study.

The three each portrayed themselves as personally best qualified to serve as a school board member:
  • Banales said her decades of work in classrooms and close ties to the neighborhood would allow her to channel the concerns of families of students who need the most help:

  • Escobedo said coming up as a once-struggling minority public school student, as well as his record of political activism, provides him empathetic insight and clear understanding of the mindsets and challenges of minority students;

  • La Berge said the board badly needs the viewpoint of a parent with kids who attend SBUSD schools -- Laura Capps, the only current parent/member will depart in a few months following her election to the Board of Supervisors.


The candidates also tackled questions on a batch of other critical issues, including the future role of charter schools, the most effective means of teaching literacy and the mass departures of district administrators since the arrival of Superintendent Hilda Maldonado.

There were no injuries.
You can watch the District 1 debate via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. Check TVSB and KCSB-FM schedules for broadcast times.

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ChillinGrillin Oct 12, 2022 02:49 PM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

Sure, it's unrealistic in every classroom. But to have at least one translator for these dialects and other languages isn't out of the question. There are 1.5 million speakers of Nahuatl (Oaxacan isn't a language, this is what I assume you mean) and 150,000 speakers of Guerreran in the world. The SB court system has translators for Mixtec and Nahuatl. But having children sit silent and confused in the classroom is probably better suited to your "conservative" educational outlook.

letmego Oct 13, 2022 01:23 PM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

That would be interesting to know. But I know a number of families who really wanted to get their kids into Adelante because of its dual language program. It is often (if not always?) a lottery. Same for the one at El Camino - I have a friend with 2 kids in 2 different elementary schools, and the younger one is in the dual language program at El Camino - in the first year they had it (the older son wasn't able to go).

Franklin is a fabulous school, so I'd assume that they wanted the Spanish instruction.

sblocal1967 Oct 12, 2022 09:25 PM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

"La Berge traced the gap largely to differences in "parental engagement," with privileged white families having more time and resources to be involved with their kids' schools and study."

Not sure about this. Parental engagement has nothing to do with the color of a persons skin. I agree 100% that parental engagement is a key root cause that contributes to a kids educational success. The majority of kids who do well in school have parents that care, the majority who do not do well have parent who do not care. There are exceptions on both fronts.

To continue this narrative of "white privilege" is extremely racist towards hispanics who are actively engaged in their kids educational well being. All of the private schools are full of hispanic kids because their parents want them to have a better education. They realize public schools have lost their way. It is no wonder based on the rhetoric spewed by these liberal candidates.

La Berge and Escobedo represent the downfall of public education. Then again that is what the liberals want - more uneducated people who rely on government handouts.

letmego Oct 13, 2022 01:27 PM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

I think parental engagement is part of it, and if you delve into the local successes in improving outcomes at various elementary schools and junior high schools - you'll find that parental engagement was a key part. Several schools made the school site a "family place" with get togethers, dinners, places for parents to learn English or taking parenting classes.

Of course, money was also a big part of it - getting outside donations that allows for intensive small group reading lessons, one-on-one homework help after hours, etc. The thing is, that stuff isn't something you do just once. It works great, but if the $ dries up then you are back to where you started.

lovesbalot Oct 13, 2022 05:32 AM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

Jerry Roberts and Josh Molina's interview is an important public service. They asked good questions. I appreciate the question on whether or not the district should use the current balanced literacy or cueing system approach or the science and evidenced based approach called "science of reading" which includes 5 components, phonics, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. Balanced literacy is based on guessing at a word from contextual clues. Balanced literacy does not work for most students because it does not teach how to "decode" words. Studies have been done using brain imaging MRI where students were reading with science of reading approach and it clearly showed parts of the brain activated for sound letter correspondence. This did not occur with balanced literacy approach. With so many EML students stuck not passing english test and only 2% get to take the A- G courses required to apply to a UC.; only 6% of those with learning difference ever take the A-G's SBUSD graduates many vulnerable students with a diploma that is limiting their opportunity because they can't read proficiently and can only get into SBCC or trade schools. Even there many struggle to keep up. This is all about equity. Only students who parents can afford outside tutoring sometimes costing 150 an hour ever make up for the fact that balanced literacy does not work for most students. And it particularly does not work for dyslexic students(20% of student body) and EML's, foster youth, homeless and students with socio economic hardship..( 40-60%). So why do we continue down a path that leaves so many students without ability to read. Those who can't are 4x as likely to drop out. This affects our entire community. And perhaps the schools can't do it alone and our community needs to demand change that lasts longer than the damage one Superintendent can do. Our community needs to own this problem and offer free summer intensive interventions for all students who are behind. We have a moral obligation to give a free and appropriate education. And 60% are not getting that. LCAP monies 13.9 million dollar fund needs to prioritize literacy and be a transparent document . We have the resources but we don't spend them well . If we did automatic testing, used science of reading, added outside reading interventionist, trained our teachers in science of reading and offer summer intensives to all we could close the achievement and equity gap. Looking forward to voting for school board members who understand this. 22 states have banned balanced literacy and shown success. Why do we cling to a failed approach and allow so many students to be cheated out of their right to learn to read.

Mebk Oct 13, 2022 07:22 AM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

22years ago we lived and worked in Mexico. If you wanted your children to learn in English you had to send them rTo a English school. We were not able to do that. They were put in regular school spoke to in Spanish. We were in their country we learned their language and didn’t expect especially treatment after all we choose two move and work there. My son went on to a great college there and is now a Doctor. He is still livi ng there. No special treatment hard work. We started there living in a old RV so no white privileged excuses here. We all worked and helped our children thrive and become good adults

sacjon Oct 13, 2022 08:59 AM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

MEBK - just because you were financially struggling for a time doesn't mean you had "no white privilege." If you're white, you have privilege that people of color don't, regardless of your life financial choices. And hey, being white isn't a "bad" thing, no one is angry because you and I are white. All anyone wants is for us to acknowledge and realize we have a different experience in life simply because of the color of our skin. That's all. Just the tiniest bit of understanding and compassion is all people want.

edney Oct 13, 2022 09:06 AM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

I am not against teaching in Nahuatl. The hard part is aggregating all of the Nahuatl speakers to be efficient or do we use one teacher for two kids here , one over there etc.
As we've seen recently from those 3 Democrat Hispanic LA City Council people, racism towards Oaxacans from other Hispanics of Mexican roots is quite prevalent. The color of their skin and their unique language(s) are particular points of ridicule

lovesbalot Oct 13, 2022 12:00 PM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

990: EML stands for Emergent multilingual learners which is a title our district came up with for our english language learners. LCAP is a fund that the state gives districts for the most vulnerable students. It stands for Local Control Accountability Plan. It is a 13.9 million dollar fund which is meant to go to the most vulnerable students, namely emergent multi lingual learners, foster youth, students with socioeconomic hardship , those with learning differences and homeless youth. It musts be spent in "the most effective use" for these high needs students. Since most are years behind in literacy it is appropriate to spend it on reading interventionist . Lastly A-G's are a set of required courses student take in high school. However many of our vulnerable students reading skills are weak and they are unable to take these required courses. If a students does not take them they cannot be eligible to apply to the UC's . They can go to SBCC or trade schools but many still struggle in these environments because they do not have basic reading proficiency. Thank you for asking for clarification. Sorry I did not explain that earlier. Our emergent multi lingual learners only 2% take those required courses. For students with learning differences only 6% take those required courses. This means there are less doors open to them. Teaching students reading in the way they learn best is the key to turning this around. Currently our district still supports a deeply flawed approach to teaching reading. The evidenced based approach used by successful districts is called "the science of reading". It works because it teaches students how sound and letters correspond and teaches "decoding" which is breaking words into syllables, parts and getting mastery at this. The current approach the district clings to teaches students to guess at words from pictures or contextual clues but not from decoding. Most students do not learn to read by balanced literacy approach. Google NY Times where this information is explained in depth and has gone main stream.

Voice of Reason Oct 14, 2022 11:57 AM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

Let’s say the government wants to help hungry people. So what do they do, they open up 10,000 government grocery stores all across the country and then you’re assigned one based of your address which you have to use by law unless you can afford an alternative. Now, you don’t have any say over the groceries you get, that will be decided by a government approved board, and if you want to make any sort of meaningful change, well prepare for a multi-year battle at your local, state an federal levels in order to try and make that happen. In addition, all the people working at this government grocery store will not be rewarded based off their ingenuity, results, or work ethic, they will only be rewarded based off their seniority. Doesn’t sound like a very good way to solve the problem but that’s exactly how were handling public education.

edney Oct 14, 2022 06:59 PM
SBUSD Board Wannabes Debate Hilda, Equity & Racism, Charters, Literacy & Qualifications

If you can afford an alternative, you get charged an $500 a month with no grocery privileges.
Sorta like medicare if your income the year prior to 65 was high. You have to sign up for medicare at 65 or get fined, but you have your own insurance you want to keep, so that will cost you $500 a month for Medicare plan you won't use in addition to the private insurance you want to keep. Authoritarian bureaucracy at its finest. Cue the kudos from the supposed anti fascists
So if my monthly premium was $800 a month, now it is $800 to the insurance company and $500 to US medicare, $1300.

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