#childsafety | From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for the Week Ending Oct. 30, 2020 | Opinions

Cars Are Basic sent a letter to the Santa Barbara City Council urging the reopening of State Street as soon as possible to stimulate business.

Using good professional economic advice, we made the point that with the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, there is a strong chance there will be a V-shaped national economic recovery. This means indoor shopping and dining will return, the need for street parklets will evaporate, demand will increase for a smooth-flowing street circulation and wide streets with parking will return.

On Oct. 29, it was reported that the national third quater economic growth was 33.1 percent. Based on that number, CAB’s projection could be underestimated.

Why bring this up? Simple. During the roaring economic recovery of 2018-2019, downtown Santa Barbara did not recover. Remember ,this is in light of the massive urban changes of downtown Santa Barbara since the late 1980s.

» Taking parking off State Street and narrowing the street with wide sidewalks

» Removing on-street parking on side streets

» Placement of very expensive curb extensions, or bulbouts

» Taking street capacity with bike paths that were supposed to replace car use.

There are more examples but these are the primary plans that failed to promote and expand downtown business over the long term.

What is the current grand design for downtown? Triple down on failure! Shut down State Street, force 20,000 daily car trips to side streets, take more street capacity for failed bike plans from those side streets, and destroy the historic look and feel of Santa Barbara. All while racing forward at a breakneck speed to deflect opposition.

The saving grace for bad design was MTD, which failed to attract shuttle use and cut primary routes before the coronavirus pandemic.

So what if the City Council (with little institutional memory of these failures) said enough?

It would be easy enough to reverse the initial blocks of State Street between Carrillo and Victoria streets and put parking back as a classic test case.

There would be little expense in removing painted bike paths and promoting auto use since air quality will not be an issue (The council has already said the future is electric.).

Accept the proposed Paseo Nuevo management lease as is, with the understanding that La Cumbre Plaza will be given expedited permits to expand business and promises NOT to narrow and congest Outer State Street and access to Highway 101.

What if the city that failed for 40 years to make Disneyland work, faced reality and said no more?

Scott Wenz
Cars Are Basic president

•        •        •

Regarding Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina’s Oct. 26, article, “As Santa Barbara School District Prepares Hybrid Instructional Plan, 462 Students Have Dis-enrolled,” it is no surprise that families are leaving the Santa Barbara Unified School District. I disagree about the reason for the exodus.

The story says “the attendance numbers illustrate the deep emotions and feelings surrounding the return to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” but if the pandemic was the problem, why would they be going elsewhere?

The fact is that SBUSD has created a crisis with its mismanagement of our public schools. Students and families have been locked out of their classrooms and are seeking the support they need, thus finding stability elsewhere and making huge sacrifices to do so.

They did not abandon our schools, the schools abandoned our families and their needs.

Even prior to the coronavirus, SBUSD standardized testing scores were very low, with many schools below average with only 20 percent of students proficient in English and math. Even prior to the pandemic, parents were questioning controversial curriculum choices and lack of transparency and inclusion.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District and its current school board have failed in their duties on many levels. Their mismanagement has created a crisis.

This district — for months — has had the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s guidelines to prepare for a safe reopening even back when waivers were required several months ago. Local private schools and two public schools, Cold Spring and Montecito Union, applied for waivers and opened with no incident.

SBUSD has received special funding from the state to cover costs of coronavirus-related supplies and, in fact, acknowledged that supplies and the awnings for outside learning spaces arrived more than a month ago.

It has been known for some time that children under 10 are very low-risk spreaders of COVID-19, and yet the district and school board have chosen to keep in Zoom learning even our K-6 elementary schools — whose students are at the most critical ages for learning and socialization.

Families are being hurt by being “locked out” of their main support and being denied physical access to in-person learning at school. Alarming rates of children are developing psychological and anxiety-related problems in this unnatural, unhealthy environment of Zoom learning. Abuse and neglect cases have increased sixfold.

Education builds up equity and opportunity; a lack of it tears them down.

We are at a dangerous crossroads with our local schools in many ways. We talk about equity, but our schools continue to fail in teaching core subjects in a unified way that would promote equity. Many students leave high school unprepared to enter the workforce or higher education.

Access to education with a foundation in basic academics is the economic equalizer. Much more than learning core subjects takes place at school.

Socialization, personal development, leadership and respect of others promote and produce a healthy society. School also is often a child’s first exposure to art and music if not present in their home environment, which is important in fostering creativity and independent thinking.

We need to get this district to invest in schools the way parents want and value engagement. We need new school board members who will put children over politics and focus on their needs.

Any of the three challengers in the Nov. 3 election — Elrawd MacLearn, Brian Campbell and Moni De Wit — will make needed changes and put the focus back where it belongs, on children’s education and being a voice for parents and teachers.

Rosanne Crawford
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen gave a clear and concise description of our plight at the hands of the California “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” tier system in his Oct. 9 column, “Santa Barbara County Needs a Realistic Roadmap to COVID-19 Recovery.”

He wrote: “The toll from our self-imposed economic destruction — including the myriad public health problems arising from it — will long outlast COVID-19 and dwarf even its most dire impacts. But that appears to be a mere afterthought in complicated reopening formulas that, having ditched hospitalizations as the baseline, turned to cases, then testing and now to some kind of vague ‘equity’ requirement — at least until the goalposts are moved again.”

From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have been told by every doctor and politician — correctly — that waiting for or adopting a herd-immunity strategy would be a disaster. Herd immunity takes years to develop and usually three cycles of infection (second and third waves, as is typical for flu). It is foolish and reckless to do nothing and wait for herd immunity to develop.

Fast tracking vaccine development (which hastens herd immunity) and basic mitigation practices (therapeutics, distance, masks, hand washing, extra help for targeted and older demographics) are the best strategies.

And yet, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s tier system uses widespread community testing case rates as its defining criterion. However, daily case rates are one measure of, you guessed it, herd immunity!

This overly strict case rate criterion does not distinguish among mild or moderate cases (which are more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases), hospitalizations or deaths. County businesses and schools can remain completely lock downed for as few as seven daily, mild cases of the sniffles (the criterion for the most closed tier).

In approximately another year, when our population has achieved herd immunity with the help of a vaccine, the daily case rate in Santa Barbara County, per 100,000 people, will be less than 1 infection per day, the criterion for the most open tier. Hopefully, everyone, including Newsom, can understand that lockdown decisions should be based on intensive-care hospitalizations and death rates.

Also, thank you to Noozhawk for publishing the Oct. 19 article and graph showing plummeting ICU and other hospitalizations.

Victor Dominocielo
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

In his Oct. 23 Letter to the Editor, Chris Henry complains that Jim Langley’s Oct. 17 column had nothing to say. He states that Noozhawk should not give Langley a forum.

I disagree. Here are two things I learned from the column:

» God is telling Langley to tell us to vote for the party headed by a serial swindler and adulterer, not the Democrat [sic] Party.

» Black Lives Matter protesters are like the crowds that wanted to crucify Jesus.

There’s something about Satan in there, too, but I didn’t follow.

I hope that Noozhawk continues to air such opinions by Langley and others. They help us all learn how Republicans think.

Martin Scharlemann
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

I have lived in the Cold Spring School District since 1995. Both of my children attended the school. The district’s Measure L2020 bond initiative is, in my opinion, a scam.

The same “emergency repairs,” i.e. the restrooms, were also a specific part of the 1996 and 2008 bonds I’m still paying for. Yet none of the monies raised by those bonds has been accounted for to the public nor, as far as anyone in the district can tell, were they overseen by a required independent oversight committee as specified as part of the prior bonds.

Katy Perry and the Santa Barbara Bowl donated nearly $100,000 to the school last year. Why hasn’t that money been used if there is such need?

It is imperative to audit the money from prior bonds first before voting to spend any more. Voting No on L2020 does not in any way imply lack of support for Cold Spring School. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Sandy Stahl

•        •        •

The Santa Barbara Unified School District school board race may be the most important race on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The SBUSD governs the secondary schools of all of the elementary school districts on the South Coast — except Carpinteria, but including the Goleta, Hope, Cold Spring and Montecito Union districts.

It is a concern to me that a majority of the five-member SBUSD school board came to office by appointment and have never faced voters until now. At the same time, our school board, which was historically balanced and had debate, dialogue and diversity of opinion, became 5-0 of one political viewpoint, and it’s not a moderate or centrist viewpoint.

Do we really want every decision to be a 5-0 vote? It’s not good, even if it is your favored party ruling. It is much better for governance to have a diversity of opinion on the school board, which produces better outcomes and certainly produces better community buy-in, an essential part of neighborhood schools.

This year’s hot topics are:

» Public schools still closed from COVID-19 (despite most private schools and both of Montecito’s public elementary schools being open)

» The debate over which sex-education curriculum should be adopted in our elementary and secondary schools, Teen Talk or the more G-rated HEART: Healthy Education and Relationship Training curriculum

» Bilingual education (META) versus immersion in English for Spanish speakers

» The Just Communities implicit bias curriculum

Vote your conscience! But most of all, don’t throw away your vote.

Alice Post
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

We are writing in support of Measure M, the Goleta Union School District’s “Funding for School Improvements and Technology” bond measure. As two retired, local elementary school teachers, we recognize the impact that adequate funding has on the success of students in our schools.

It has been 24 years since the GUSD put forward a bond measure; consider the changes that have taken place in our society since 1996, especially in the area of technology.

COVID-19 has made even more clear how technology is essential for student learning in the 21st century. If approved, Measure M will authorize $81.1 million to upgrade classrooms (especially STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math — classrooms), increase student access to the Internet, and improve classroom technology throughout the Goleta school district.

Along with certain other purposes, Measure M funds will be used to repair and replace leaking roofs, pipes and plumbing, as well as to increase renewable and sustainable energy projects at district facilities.

You can be assured that our taxpayer dollars will be protected through review by an independent citizens oversight committee and a third-party auditor. Additionally, Measure M funds can only be used in our Goleta schools; the State of California is prohibited from using this money in other school districts.

As is the case throughout our nation, children in our local schools need our support now more than ever. Measure M is a reasonable and necessary vehicle to provide the students in Goleta with a safe and secure learning environment and the tools they need to meet with success.

We strongly support Measure M and hope that you will join us in passing this bond!

Carter and Wendy Morgan

•        •        •

There are two school board seats up for election at Montecito’s Cold Spring School. I started following the happenings at the district when I read an article about its L2020 bond measure in a local weekly newspaper. I never was informed, asked or questioned about the bond, and I never was asked to support or vote for it. I am voting No on L2020.

I believe this whole bond issue has been poorly handled from the get-go. I’ve learned a lot about the current school board and administration. I feel it’s time to clean house and have a thorough forensic audit done.

One way of getting some new faces on the board is the Nov. 3 election. I have met one person who is very knowledgeable of the Education Code and board procedures, and is familiar with Cold Spring School. She has written several articles about the current situation, including an Oct. 25 commentary, “What Happened to the Money, Results of 2008 Cold Spring School Bond?”

I feel very confident in supporting “Amanda Rowan” as a write-in candidate on Nov. 3, and I highly recommend that you write in Amanda Rowan’s name, too. Let’s get our school back.

Donald Miller

•        •        •

In this time of COVID-19, what happens in our classrooms is critical to the future of all of us. Our children and teachers are adapting to Zoom learning in extraordinary ways, but we hope that this environment will not last forever.

Our children must have the facilities and learning that they need to make decisions for our future and the future of our planet. Measure M, a bond issue for Goleta schools, is to upgrade and repair schools for today’s needs, including Internet access, and also to develop a new curriculum in STEAM education with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to prepare students for the modern world that they will enter.

They need a safe, secure physical environment and, in addition, they need to honestly address the issue of global warming that is facing all of us. The STEAM curriculum will give them the background behind this issue. It will help them to think and understand the issues facing us.

This is the first bond issue for the Goleta Union School District in 24 years. It is past time to address both physical and intellectual needs of this community. Goleta has excellent schools right now, but they can’t stand still in this changing world.

This bond issue comes with a community oversight committee to make sure it stays within its purpose. All funds will go into schools and teaching, none into administrative salaries or benefits, and all will be spent locally for the children of Goleta.

I am 90 years old and I will willingly and enthusiastically pay a little more to protect my remaining years and those in the future of my children and grandchildren. Better schools are a benefit to all our community, both economically and socially.

Measure M is a good investment for us now and for the future. Please join me and vote YES on Measure M.

Margaret Connell
Former Goleta mayor

•        •        •

I taught high school English at Maine South High School outside of Chicago before computer programs were available to check for plagiarism, so I have a well-honed skill for recognizing when I have read something “original” before.

Still, I was startled when I read Cold Spring School Superintendent/Prinicipal Amy Alzina’s Oct. 24 commentary, “Know the Facts About Cold Spring School’s Measure L2020 School Bond.”

She wrote: “The newest discipline to join the CSS enrichment program is STEAM, an integrated class that weaves the learning of core curriculum into hands-on engineering and design projects. Students work in collaborative teams to tackle real-world problems that have no prescriptive solution. Through these challenges, students apply content knowledge that is concurrent with classroom instruction, but the outcomes are far more substantial than simply deepening math and science skills. By working through open-ended projects, students become resourceful and strategic.”

And, “Since launching the STEAM program, Cold Spring students have installed bat boxes and birdhouses; they’ve built custom ukuleles, programmed homemade robots, planted a native garden and designed a chicken coop for our hopeful campus food forest. The list of student projects is dynamic, and it fluctuates in response to the interests and passions of each cohort.”

The problem is that is — word for word — exactly what STEAM teacher Jean Gradias wrote in an Oct. 3 commentary, “With Cold Spring School Bond, Message to Students Should Be Yes.”

Does Alzina think we aren’t intelligent enough to notice? As a newcomer to this community, I am starting to see why community members are griping about her salary. If she were in my English class, her plagiarized column would have earned her an F.

Then I read Amanda Rowan’s well-researched Oct. 25 commentary, “What Happened to the Money, Results of 2008 Cold Spring School Bond?” and how the language is the same as L2020. It appears L2020 proponents plagiarized the earlier bond as well.

More concerning is the fact that the Cold Spring School board has spent bond money without the required independent oversight committee and that legal counsel advised the board that it could spend money on surveys for another bond and pay for architecture plans never listed on Measure C. These actions are illegal, plain and simple.

Maggie Steinberger Ph.D.

•        •        •

As a resident and taxpayer in the unincorporated eastern Goleta Valley, I am writing to express my strong support for the passage of Measure M on the Nov. 3 ballot to benefit the Goleta Union School District. This important measure will, among other things, upgrade STEAM labs, increase student Internet access and improve classroom technology.

I am not a parent, yet as a resident of our democracy I have a strong investment and interest in the provision of quality public education that helps children remain current on fast-moving technological and scientific changes and discoveries.

I took a look at my most recent tax statement/breakdown and was shocked to see that there has not been a bond for the Goleta school district for almost 25 years! There has been no bond during the past two decades of rapid technological and scientific research and growth.

In addition, the physical condition and maintenance of school properties warrant serious attention. I appreciate that the bond carries with it a citizens oversight committee, and a requirement that funds be spent locally.

Our schools are important — if not the most vital assets of the many diverse communities in the Goleta Valley. I urge my fellow residents to mark your ballots in SUPPORT of Measure M.

Mary O’Gorman
Goleta Valley

•        •        •

After reading the Cold Spring School District L2020 bond measure text, I thought WOW, this sounds like the voter-approved C2008 school bond measure. Sure enough, what is to be built, replaced and repaired with L2020 bond proceeds is nearly the same list as that from Measure C in 2008.

How to notify 87 percent of district homeowners who are unaware about L2020 or what is happening on campus is a huge challenge. Problems and waste at Cold Spring School far exceed what can be read in the bond text.

Some related questions: What happened to the Measure C bond proceeds on our tax bills for yet another 19 years? Who serves on the citizens oversight committee? Why haven’t taxed property owners ever received an annual update on the results and progress of C2008-funded improvements? Why are the projects to be funded by L2020 almost the same? What’s going on at the Cold Spring School District?

Connect the dots to see how bond proceeds were and continue to be misused, mismanaged and essentially become free bonus money. Inquiries about advocacy by school leaders are met with intimidation tactics, including cease and desist orders and threats of Santa Barbara County Superior Court filings. Yes on L2020 yard signs are expected to be displayed by school parents.

The latest is Superintendent/Principal Amy Alzina asking parents for $1,200 more per student to cover deficit spending in the 2020-2021 budget. Cold Spring School is a PUBLIC school! Kids are entitled to free K-12 schooling funded by taxpayers. Where’s county Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido?

Good thing intimidated parents can freely vote in private without fear of consequence, unless of course they support shenanigans.

Student proficiency is an even bigger concern to me as a 40-year public school advocate who lives equal distance between the independent Cold Spring School and Cleveland School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. One school ranks No. 1, the other No. 10. At CSS, 98 percent of students test to grade-level proficiency, at Cleveland about 10 percent do.

Our students come together at Santa Barbara Junior High School, where some parents expect a melting pot of comparable academic instruction and attainment.

What motivated this letter is that, after decades of pushing to get Cleveland School students what is essential for their learning, I learned that Cold Spring School will finally reach out to help. How? By helping Cleveland students build skateboards! WHAT?! Cleveland kids can teach Cold Spring kids how to build a house and life survival skills!

Voters, the time is now: Burst the Cold Spring School bubble!

Denice Spangler Adams

•        •        •

The Senate confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court put tens of millions of Americans’ fundamental human rights at risk, and access to sexual and reproductive health care, like birth control and abortion, under extreme and dire threat.

In the wake of a rushed, partisan confirmation process, we need to recognize California has an obligation to ensure we remain a Reproductive Freedom State that’s centered on protecting and expanding every person’s ability to access the health care they need.

With Coney Barrett’s confirmation, 17 abortion-related cases one step from the Supreme Court, and the Affordable Care Act about to be considered, the future of our health care is on the line. We need California’s current and future elected leaders to work to ensure health-care access is protected within our borders, no matter what happens at the Supreme Court.

While we are fortunate to have laws in California protecting sexual and reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion, there’s more to be done to create a more equitable and accessible health-care system for Californians. As a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health care in California, we know that health care means nothing in communities that are not able to access it.

For too long we as a country have underinvested and under-resourced black, Latinx and indigenous communities — leading to less access to health care and dramatic health-care disparities. We see these results in the ravages of COVID-19: economic inequality, structural racism and public health failures have translated to exponentially higher infection and death rates in the black, Latinx and indigenous communities.

As Planned Parenthood health centers across the country brace for the national rippling effects of a conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court, compounded with the existing racial disparities within health-care access, we need to ensure critical health-care systems in California are adequately funded, accessible and even expanded. In a time of both a public health crisis and an economic crisis, patients inside and outside of California will be reliant upon safety-net providers and the high-quality, affordable care they provide.

Now, more than ever, we all must stand strong in our convictions to support reproductive freedom.

We need our leaders to expand, not dismantle, health-care access, especially as safety-net programs in California will continue to be a critical part of the health-care system.

So, hear this: in the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we commit to addressing and working to close the disparities within our health-care system, exacerbated by systemic racism and sexism, and advocating for continued investment in California’s safety-net programs.

Not only by fighting to protect the rights Ginsburg fought for — reproductive rights, affordable health care, immigrant justice, workers’ rights, racial equity, gender equity, justice — but working with California’s leaders to close the widening gap between rights and true access.

Jenna Tosh Ph.D.
Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund CEO

•        •        •

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