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Monie de Wit

Monie de Wit
Monie de Wit - Santa Barbara Unified School District Board candidate

Santa Barbara Unified School Board

Facebook: monieforschoolboard
Why are you running for office?: I am uniquely qualified to help the district close the achievement gap and address what I see as a civil rights issue — literacy is a human right. Many of these students fall through the cracks if they don't read at grade level by third grade. As a community advocate I have seen some things that are just so wrong. I am working with a woman right now who is undocumented, and her boy has special needs and she doesn’t know what to do. Teachers are not encouraged to find issues later on because it’s an embarrassment to the system. Our districts "wait to fail " and truancy policies need to change so students who need our support the most get their needs met.
What makes you qualified for the job?: As someone with a learning difference who raised a son with a learning difference, I know firsthand how to help this group as well as our english language learners and students from low income. I have also been on two boards, Dyslexia Awareness Resource Center and later Dyslexia Project to help individual students and advocate to the board for change. I understand AB1369 and will make sure it is implemented in our district which it currently is not. I have decades of experience and am certified in several best practices reading interventions. In our district this affects the latinx and those with low income. It is an equity issue because it should not matter how much money your parents make you are entitled to a free and appropriate education by law. 
What are your two main priorities if you win?: First, I would make literacy a higher priority on all campuses, have automatic testing in K-3 and invest in teachers and teacher training.

The second is to do a FCMAT report (fiscal crisis management assistance team) which is basically an audit by the state education department showing the deficits and strengths of the district. It would be a great template for the new board to use to form goals.
How will you interact with other governments?: As a school board member I would ask for the state audit, FCMAT report. One the local level I would replicate the successful work of Principal Casie Kilgore at Franklin and her use of retired teachers "golden girls" who support struggling students. Franklins test scores are far better than most campuses. I will make sure we are in compliance with all federal laws that require students to get a free and appropriate education.
What are your plans to help overcome COVID-19?: I know that outdoor space with minimum 6-feet social distancing and wearing masks has the lowest risks. Also so far, in a survey only 50% wanted to go back to in-person learning. I believe we can do both distance and in-person until the risk is diminished.
Each campus must be prepared for outside learning. This is what the private schools are doing.
Which two issues are most important to you?: Literacy is a central focus because it affects everything else. If you can't read well you lose interest, feel less than, and many times drop out of school and wind up in the school-to-prison pipeline which is bad for the individual, their family and community.
Inclusion is what is equitable. Yet our district the students at Cleveland, Harding and SBCA did not get to go to science camp, a 6th grade right of passage because no parents could take off to chaperone. However, Roosevelt and Washington students got to go twice, once in 5th and then in 6th. There are financial barriers imposed by the board to run for office which are higher than any other race. This is not equity.

Extended Interview with Monie de Wit

Santa Barbara Unified School District Candidate Forum

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