Smart, tough, and compassionate, Emily Zacarias is exactly what a great Goleta school board member looks like. A professional special education teacher, Zacarias comes loaded with practical, invaluable, in-the-trenches experience.
Her opponent is Christy Lozano, firebrand of the South Coast’s culturally aggrieved conservative right. Given Lozano’s wild-hair statements accusing public school sex ed programs of “grooming” victims for gay pedophiles, it’s fair to say we’d be hard put not to support almost anyone running against her. Fortunately for all who live in Goleta, Zacarias is actually an outstanding candidate.
She is the mother of two young children; has taught in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Goleta school districts at a number of grade levels; and now teaches children with severe special needs for the County Department of Education. Conflicts over the adequacy of special education have been the breeding ground for a disproportionate percentage of the litigation ensnaring school districts across the state. People charged with administering such programs too often lack either the bandwidth or the authority necessary to make meaningful improvements. Having someone with Zacarias’s vantage point on the board would be an invaluable contribution. But it is her thoughtful eye that can spot issues where simple solutions can prevent major problems. Just realizing that porta-potties for little 4-year-olds on campus for the first time must be put nearer their classrooms to prevent them having upsetting accidents could be invaluable. Zacarias would infuse board discussions with real-world considerations that might not show up in administrative memos and district flow charts. And she has a strong understanding of how a child’s brain works, why the dual-language program is so important for both English and Spanish language students, and why an Expanded Learning program will promote a safe, succeeding student body. It was a good day in Goleta when Emily Zacarias decided to run for the school board.