My name is Lou Segal and I am running for the Santa Barbara County Board of Education. If you have found this site, it must mean you have concerns about our public schools because otherwise why would you choose to take your valuable time viewing a website of a candidate for political office. My goal is to tell you a little bit about myself, why I am running for this office and how I intend to make a difference. First and foremost, the number one job I envision for myself, if elected, is to ensure all students are receiving a first-rate education and, ultimately, successfully mastering math, English, reading, writing, science and other subjects pivotal for life after school.
In 1988, my wife and I moved to Santa Barbara from the East Coast because of the great weather, beautiful scenic views and picturesque setting for which we are known. Within a few years I a started an investment business, bought a home and we welcomed a baby to our family. Of course, I was very busy, especially with my new company, because as anyone can tell you it’s not easy to start a fledging business. Fortunately, I was blessed and the company became quite successful.
When my son entered public school, I became involved in our schools and noticed the schools in Santa Barbara were quite different from the ones I attended on the East Coast many years ago. Although I saw many great teachers, I observed that there were equally as many mediocre teachers, too. Spending many nights helping my son with his homework, I noticed the curriculum was lacking in several areas. Because it is my nature to question everything, which served me well with my business, I began to take a closer look at our schools to understand their uneven performance. What I found was disturbing.
It became obvious to me the public-school system in our wonderful town was dysfunctional and performing very poorly. Test scores were shockingly low, in many grades more than half of the kids were less than proficient. The rules dictating working conditions, or what is commonly referred to as the collective bargaining agreement, were tilted in favor of protecting low-performing teachers. Lifetime tenure, lack of merit pay, seniority-based layoffs and ineffective teacher evaluations were hindering student learning and hobbling the performance of the schools. The more I scrutinized the performance of the schools, the clearer it became to me that our schools were run by ineffectual administrators and bureaucrats. I realized something needed to be done to change the direction of our schools.
Consequently, in 2012, I ran for the Santa Barbara Unified School Board. Although I lost, I received tens of thousands of votes and tremendous support from like-minded people. Despite the loss, I continued to speak out about reforming our public schools. In addition to my candidate statement on the ballot, I have added to this campaign website a number of school-related op-eds I have written over the years in various newspapers and online media sites.
If the voters should elect me to this office, I intend to enlist and encourage the superintendent of the county education office to reimagine the powers she has over the school districts in the county. One of the most important functions she has is approving the districts’ budgets, collective bargaining agreements and what is referred to as the local control and accountability plans. In other words, most school funding needs her sign off before the money can be spent. In California, the funds provided by the state for our schools must be tied to their performance, meaning if schools are failing and not improving, the county superintendent can hold up funds until a real plan to improve schools is rendered. Sadly, the superintendent has not used this statutory power she has to demand better performance and ultimately help our schools to raise test scores and improve academic outcomes for all students. If I am elected, this is going to change.
Having run a business for many years, I am use to reading financial statements and budgets. As a consequence, I intend to scrutinize the county’s budget, looking for inefficiencies, wasteful spending and funds spent on overhead rather than students. I intend to question everything, to ensure the county is spending all its money effectively and, most importantly, the expenditures are maximally serving our students, academically and vocationally. For instance, I will question why so few funds are currently being spent on vocational education and trades, particularly ones which are in great demand in the marketplace today.
I have many other ideas for improving our schools, which I hope to share with the community in the coming months.
Some of my op-eds and my candidate statement can be found on this website. Hopefully, they will give you greater insight into my candidacy and inspire you to vote for me. I will take each and every vote as a sacred oath to do my best to ensure all students are getting the education they deserve for the hard-earned dollars provided by taxpayers. This is an important responsibility and I will never take it for granted.
Thank you for taking the time to look at my website. If you have any questions or insights you would like to share with me, please email me at this address: lou@LouSegalforSBCountyEd.com
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Produced for Lou Segal 2020 - All Rights Reserved.