I am a parent of kids in our Laguna schools and have been following the school board election. One candidate, Annette Gibson, has no connection to our schools or district, no kids in our schools (literally ever), and no background in education.
Instead, Gibson is running to attack the new state-mandated academic standards that were adopted in California in 2010. On her Facebook
page she has invited her supporters to attend meetings in Costa Mesa and Laguna’s GOP HQ about these standards. At the October 20 Costa
Mesa meeting and press conference prior to it, lawyers urged that OC school districts sue California over the standards. Gibson has, herself, stated at the OC Board of Education meeting on July 16 that
everyone in OC should “attack” the new standards and “de-fund” their implementation.
This is a dangerous path for Laguna. Our district will no doubt do fine with the new standards, but that’s not my concern. My concern is Gibson apparently does not know how our basic aid formula works or the
sensitive political history of basic aid. Under the basic aid system, about 33 unified school districts receive their property taxes back from the state to fund their operations. Because of basic aid, Laguna receives about $15 million more than it would otherwise.
To be clear, the money goes to Sacramento and then we get it back based on the basic aid funding formula. Those who know the history of our district know that Laguna has periodically had to fight very hard to protect basic aid status in Sacramento. Laguna has always succeeded in protecting basic aid, but it hasn’t always been easy.
So now Gibson wants to declare war on Sacramento over academic standards and put our students in the middle? Imagine the financial disaster for our district if our basic aid is removed by the politicians in Sacramento. Gibson’s kids are in private schools so
won’t be here to bear the brunt of the disaster she could create. But my kids and others’ kids will.
This is not a campaign about voting yes or no for the new standards. The standards are state law and no local school board election can change that. The viability of the standards is for different elections and for state policy makers, not the Laguna Beach school
board no matter how strongly personal beliefs may be about the standards. Turning this election into a referendum on whether our district will declare war on Sacramento over the state law standards—which Gibson appears to be doing—disserves our children,
even if it serves one’s populist personal political ambitions. It will not help our students if we refuse to follow state law and embroil the Laguna district in crippling litigation over state standards that are required by law.
I will not vote for Gibson. I will vote for the three qualified candidates: Perry, Normandin and Brown.
Peter Afrasiabi, Laguna Beach
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