Some people are just born to lead. This has to be why educators across the state are rising to serve their communities in the midst of multiple crises that threaten our collective health, safety and future prosperity. They’re campaigning for election like never before, finding new and creative ways to reach voters while maintaining safe social distancing and healthy practices.
We’re shining a light on some of these dedicated educators running for election during this chaotic time – leaders who are rising to defend our students and fight for the schools and community colleges they deserve. Here’s the next in this series: Carolyn Torres.
Candidate for: Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education
Experience: Eighth grade teacher with more than 15 years in education; Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association site rep.
Why: I am running for reelection for Santa Ana Unified school board because I have seen the value of my voice. As a teacher, I have been able to identify and explain which district policies and plans will make sense in the classroom and which will not. My experience in the classroom is a daily reality that informs my decisions on the board. When folks talk about parent engagement, I think of my students’ parents and what accessibility, accountability and transparency mean beyond the rhetoric.
Top issues: Right now health, safety and technology during COVID-19 are the priority. I want to make sure we are not rushing to open schools. I want to make sure we are not creating additional barriers for parents, staff and students during distance learning. I am also concerned about budget cuts and want to make sure we are transparent with our budget.
Distance campaigning: We have been canvassing with a few protocols. We do not want to get sick or get anyone sick. Health is very important to me, and we are taking all the precautions we can. Unfortunately, I have decided not to attend many of the in-person functions that are normally part of a campaign. I do not know when I will personally have to go back to the classroom, so I do not want to increase any chance of getting COVID-19 unnecessarily or push anyone on my team to take risks.
Choosing to lead now: Right now, we need strong, decisive leaders who will make the right decisions. Watching other decision-makers waver on what is clearly in the best interest of public health and safety is disappointing. I have heard many leaders say that they do not know what the best course of action is, but for me it seems clear that in the areas we can control, we should not be contributing to community spread of COVID-19. We cannot control individuals or families. But as board members we can control how long we will continue with distance learning and what the safety precautions will be when we transition back to in-person classes.