March 8, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Last Look At Santa Monica-Malibu Board Of Education Candidates: Six Candidates On Ballot For Three SMMUSD Board of Education Spots

Six candidates – three from Santa Monica and three from Malibu – are vying for three seats on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board of Education on Election Day this Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The Santa Monica residents and all incumbents: Ben Allen, Maria-Leon Vazquez, and José Escarce.

The three challengers are all Malibu residents running as the “reform slate,” which comprises of Karen Farrer, Craig Foster, and Seth Jacobson.

Here are the final statements for all SMMUSD Board of Education candidates explaining why they should receive your vote this Tuesday (published in ballot order).

Ben Allen, School Board President

www.benallen.net

I have served on the School Board for the past four years, and humbly ask for your vote for my reelection. I grew up in our community, attending District schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, serving as Student Body President at Samohi before going on to pursue degrees at Harvard, Cambridge, and UC Berkeley. I am fluent in Spanish, a former UC Regent, an attorney, and adjunct faculty at UCLA Law School, where I teach education law and policy. I am passionate about public education and our local schools, and have worked hard to find creative solutions to our District’s intractable problems. My colleagues have elected me to serve as their President, and I am proud that we have continued to show impressive academic gains in spite of difficult budget cuts.

My priorities have been and 
will continue to be:

• Setting high academic expectations and standards.

• Looking out for all students, finding ways to improve outcomes and opportunities for students from every background.

• Preserving the core programs that make our District great: from the arts and athletics to strong academic programs.

• Pushing for environmentally sustainable practices.

• Addressing the needs of both Santa Monica and Malibu.

Karen Farrer, Community Volunteer

www.reformslate.com

We stand for one simple thing: each and every student’s educational success.

If elected, we will:

• Make student achievement the primary goal of the Superintendent and hold her accountable for that achievement.

• Reduce class size.

• Close the achievement gap between different demographic groups.

• Initiate a school by school review and hold principals responsible for learning outcomes.

• Work with the Teachers’ Union to review current practices and rigorously implement current best practices and proven educational innovations.

• Pay for these initiatives by reducing the administrative bureaucracy and creating an independent Malibu School District.

In short, we stand for accountability, innovation, and independence. On the board, we will insist that SMMUSD becomes the district it always should have been and the district that our communities deserve. Every child deserves success. Every parent deserves to have his or her voice heard.

Qualifications:

• District parent and volunteer since 1991.

• Executive Vice President Malibu High School PTSA.

• Past PTA President Webster Elementary School and Malibu High School.

• SMM PTA Council Executive Board member since 2003.

• Founding and current Executive Board Member, The Shark Fund.

• Executive Board member of AMPS.

• Member of Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on DWF.

Craig Foster, Teacher


www.reformslate.com

We stand for one simple thing: each and every student’s educational success.

If elected, we will:

• Make student achievement the primary goal of the Superintendent and hold her accountable for that achievement.

• Reduce class size.

• Close the achievement gap between different demographic groups.

• Initiate a school by school review and hold principals responsible for learning outcomes.

• Work with the Teachers’ Union to review current practices and rigorously implement current best practices and proven educational innovations.

• Pay for these initiatives by reducing the administrative bureaucracy and creating an independent Malibu School District.

In short, we stand for accountability, innovation, and independence. On the board, we will insist that SMMUSD becomes the district it always should have been and the district that our communities deserve. Every child deserves success. Every parent deserves to have his or her voice heard.

Qualifications:

• Certified Teacher.

• Current PTA President and Site Governance Council member, Webster Elementary School.

• President, Advocates for Malibu Public School.

• Member, SMMUSD Financial Oversight Committee.

• Retired financial services executive.

• M.A.A. in Elementary Education, University of Phoenix 2012.

• B.A. with honors.

• SMMUSD parent since 2008.

• Member of Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on DWF.

Seth Jacobson, Public Policy Advisor

www.reformslate.com

We stand for one simple thing: each and every student’s educational success.

If elected, we will:

• Make student achievement the primary goal of the Superintendent and hold her accountable for that achievement.

• Reduce class size.

• Close the achievement gap between different demographic groups.

• Initiate a school by school review and hold principals responsible for learning outcomes.

• Work with the Teachers’ Union to review current practices and rigorously implement current best practices and proven educational innovations.

• Pay for these initiatives by reducing the administrative bureaucracy and creating an independent Malibu School District.

In short, we stand for accountability, innovation, and independence. On the board, we will insist that SMMUSD becomes the district it always should have been and the district that our communities deserve. Every child deserves success. Every parent deserves to have his or her voice heard.

Qualifications:

• Vice President, Advocates for Malibu Public Schools.

• Chairman, The Shark Fund.

• 15 year district parent, with SMMUSD 2nd, 5th and 12th graders.

• Former PTA VP Pt Dume Elementary.

• Former Santa Monica Housing Commissioner.

• Member of Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on DWF.

• Marketing and communications executive.

• Former member President’s Council on Small Business Innovation.

Maria Leon-Vazquez, 
School Board Member


Marialv4ourkids@yahoo.com

Dear Santa Monica/Malibu Resident: As a member and past president of the School Board, I have worked very diligently on our mission for academic excellence while simultaneously closing the achievement gap.

What was accomplished? Test scores increased; the budget was brought under fiscal control with high reserves; and Proposition Y and YY passed guaranteeing economic stability; Proposition BB projects broke ground and some completed; and a visionary Superintendent was hired. Most importantly, our schools continue to be recognized on a world, national and statewide level, as a result of our academic and arts programs.

What I hope to accomplish 
in the next four years:

• Continue to strive for academic excellence while simultaneously closing the achievement gap.

• Create a culture of inclusion and trust among all our families.

• Guarantee that BB projects are completed.

• Open more streams of revenue through district-wide fundraising.

• Modernize our school facilities.

I live and work in Santa Monica with my husband and two children, both SMMUSD graduates.

You have entrusted me with your children, and I have delivered on that trust. Let’s work together to build an excellent district.

José Escarce, 
School Board Member


escarce@earthlink.net

As a member and immediate past president of the School Board, I have focused on steering our School District through California’s budget crisis while fostering educational excellence, equity, and financial accountability.

Academic achievement continues to rise for all student groups; our music and arts programs are the envy of the state; and our students shine in academic, artistic, and athletic competitions. However, there is more work to do.

• I am committed to helping all children reach their potential. If I am re-elected, my priorities are:

• Improve instruction and maintain academic and arts programs while balancing the budget in difficult economic times.

• Promote teachers’ professional development to ensure all our students develop their creativity and critical-thinking skills.

• Promote a culture of collaboration and make our schools welcoming places for all students.

• Strengthen intervention programs.

I graduated from Princeton, received an MD and economics PhD from Penn, and completed medical residency at Stanford. Currently, I am Professor of Medicine at UCLA.

My wife, Eileen, and I have put three children through our schools. I am bilingual and enjoy bringing people together to achieve shared goals.

With your vote, I will help our district stay one of the best in California.

in News
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