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Trio of Malibu School Board Candidates Look to Make Waves

Craig Foster, Seth Jacobson and Karen Farrer, who are all members of Advocates of Malibu Public Schools, are stepping up to push for the best education for all children in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

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.

Linda Androlia August 05, 2012 at 02:08 PM
To the three of you, thank you for doing this. You have my vote. I would imagine a challenge is getting the Malibu voters out in big numbers. How can you do this?
Caroline Cicero August 05, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Thanks for stepping up! I look forward to good things to come.
Karen Farrer August 05, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Thank you for an excellent article. I must make one correction: my last name is spelled Farrer.
Suzy Formna August 05, 2012 at 03:23 PM
You have my vote. If you could all serve, it would be amazing! But even if just one of you get elected, there may be hope for our schools after all. Thank you for taking on this huge commitment!
Lydia Graham August 05, 2012 at 05:36 PM
SUCH a great idea to get 3 Malibuites on the board!
Craig Strachan August 05, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Karen Farrer, Craig Foster and Seth Jacobson are to be congratulated for their exemplary public spirit in this. I've heard some of the current school board members express doubts about whether the idea of splitting up the district in fact has broad support districtwide. In putting themselves up like this, and pledging to campaign in all areas of the district on the issue of separation, these three candidates are in effect giving voters the chance to settle that question definitively - and much sooner than might otherwise have been the case.
Jonathan Friedman August 05, 2012 at 06:30 PM
This really spices up the election, wish I were there to cover it. Best wishes to everybody running. I will be watching this closely from afar.
Mikke Pierson August 05, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Excellent! Malibu appreciates you stepping up and running! I know that all three of you would make a huge positive difference!
Mark Hayes August 05, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Please let us know where you are gathering signatures. Make it easy for the community to help you meet the signature requirement as Aug. 10 is around the corner. Thank you for running and trying to give Malibu a voice.
Marianne Riggins August 05, 2012 at 07:27 PM
thank you for stepping up to the plate, I know that the three of you will continue to work hard for all students in the district.
Mark Randall August 05, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I don't have children and I don't know two of the three. Perhaps I should not comment but I do know Craig Foster and find him to be a very smart man. Good luck to you all.
Hans Laetz August 05, 2012 at 10:39 PM
We need a few petition gathering meetups!
Holly kinyon August 06, 2012 at 06:45 AM
To three of the most qualified, highly intelligent and deeply involved parents I know - Kudos to you for stepping up. Let's help them get the necessary signatures and VOTE in November Malibu! SMMUSD board members serve long and late hours every meeting. If these three highly-qualified parents are willing to serve and represent Malibu, they deserve our support!
Pamela Conley Ulich August 06, 2012 at 09:07 AM
This is great news! Please let us all know how we can help you. Thanks for asking and acting on what you can do to help our kids and our community.
Ann Brenoff August 06, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Wonderful news! Every person who cares about the quality of Malibu schools -- and the impact that quality schools have on property values (even if you don't have kids in school) needs to make the election of these three candidates happen. How can we help? Can AYSO, the local businesses, Malibu Little League get behind this effort to get some Malibu representation on SMMUSD?
Jeff Kletter August 06, 2012 at 04:13 PM
As a new family to Malibu (2 children in Webster last year and one more this year), I am thrilled about the education and family involvement. I have been to a number of AMPS meetings and believe that we could not be in better, more intelligent, capable hands than Craig Foster, Seth Jacobson & Karen Farrer (sp.). Thank you all for your time, commitment and caring.
Janet Yerby August 07, 2012 at 03:48 AM
How thrilling to have three wonderfully qualified Malibuites willing to take on such a monumental task! I applaud you and will help make sure my friends and neighbors understand how important it is to get out and vote this November. I'm sure you have all the signatures you need, but I'd love to add my name and support anyway! Thank you!

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