Three Malibu residents have pulled papers to run for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District School Board election this November.
Craig Foster, Seth Jacobson and Karen Farrer, who are all members of Advocates of Malibu Public Schools are running on a reform slate of bettering schools in Malibu and Santa Monica.
There are three seats open on the seven-member school board and if the Malibu activists gather 100 signatures by Aug. 10 they will face off against incumbents Jose Escarce, Maria Leon Vazquez and Ben Allen in November.
"We’re running on a platform of putting the focus back where it belongs on excellent schools, and having schools as good as the two cities deserve," said Foster, who is the president of AMPS, which has actively advocated for an independent Malibu school district.
Foster said the group is running to represent all schools in the district, not just Malibu.
"It’s still uphill battle against a very powerful entrenched political system," Foster said, adding that if voters elected all three "that would give us three out of the seven votes on the school board."
The trio's platform includes:
- Making student achievement the primary goal of the superintendent and hold her accountable for that achievement;
- Reducing class sizes;
- Closing the achievement gap between different demographic groups;
- Initiating a school-by-school review and hold principals responsible for learning outcomes;
- Working with the Teachers’ Unions to review current practices and rigorously implement current best practices and proven educational innovations; and
- Paying for these initiatives by reducing the administrative bureaucracy and creating an independent Malibu School District.
The last Malibu resident to serve on the school board was Kathy Wisnicki, who chose not to seek reelection in 2008. Malibu's lack of voice on the board of education has long been an issue of contention.
Foster, Jacobson and Farrer have been active in the district for the past year.
The idea to run came from within the district, where they have heard "you complain about not having representation, you should run for office," according to Foster.
"We’re doing it because it is the right thing to do. We have no aspirations beyond fixing the schools," Foster said.
Jacobson said he believes more accountability and creative thinking are needed in the district.
"We’re running for everybody not just for Malibu," Jacobson said.
Foster, who has a M.A.A. in Elementary Education, is the parent of a fourth grade student in Malibu. Both Farrer and Jacobson are also involved with AMPS and have been involved with the district for years.