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OC Parents Protest Politically-Motivated Effort by Sacramento to Restructure County Board of Education

“SB-907 is completely unnecessary, unwanted, and interferes with local control,” according to critics.

This afternoon, Orange County residents are rallying outside State Senator Josh Newman’s district office in Fullerton to vocalize their opposition to Senate Bill 907 (SB-907). The bill, which was spearheaded by State Senators Josh Newman and Dave Min, both Democrats, would bypass the will of constituents and mandate that the Orange County Board of Education expand from five to seven members. Many parents view this as a direct attack on the current conservative majority of the board, orchestrated by the veto-proof Democrat supermajority in Sacramento.

Existing law specifies that when a county Board of Education resolves to increase or decrease its number of members, that resolution becomes a ballot measure that voters can approve or reject. SB-907 kills this democratic process, for Orange County alone, and authorizes the State Legislature to impose its will over the will of constituents. 

Critics have pointed out that larger counties like Los Angeles and San Diego, both with significant Democrat influence and only five-member boards, are conspicuously exempt from this sweeping reform. This disparity has not gone unnoticed. 

Similarly, protestors have articulated that the State Legislature should be focused on bigger issues such as California’s staggering $73 billion budget shortfall and the ongoing homelessness crisis, rather than on restructuring local boards in politically convenient ways.

While Boards of Education are nonpartisan bodies, Orange County’s made headlines for challenging overbroad State mandates and standing for the rights of parents. Its members endorsed an early, safe reopening schools during the forced COVID-19 shutdowns, pushed back on mask mandates, and—unlike many Boards under strong union influence—have displayed a willingness to help approve charter schools

This approach, to the dismay of their adversaries, has been wildly popular. In the March 2024 primary election, Trustee Jorge Valdes won reelection by a decisive 14 point margin. In 2022, Trustees Mari Barke, Tim Shaw, and Lisa Sparks defeated their opponents by 27, 16, and 29 point margins respectively. Ken Williams won by 19 points one cycle prior. All of this is even more notable within the context that the current Trustees’ challengers were all well-funded by the pro-union establishment—the California Teachers Association (CTA), Planned Parenthood, and others. 

It would make sense, then, that the supermajority would work to drastically reshape the board. Where democratic elections have failed, the gambit is now to change existing law to dilute conservative influence in one of California’s few remaining Republican-led educational strongholds. 

“SB-907  is completely unnecessary, unwanted, and interferes with local control,” writes a representative from government relations firm Sheehy Strategy Group. “It’s an attempt to reconfigure a local board that supports charter schools and parental rights. If it is such good public policy, then why not amend it to apply statewide?”

“Anybody who is paying attention can see that this is a bald-faced attack by labor on school choice,” said Dr. Stefan Bean, Executive Director at Irvine National Academy. “The [Orange County Board of Education] has been on the vanguard of school choice, approving over 40 charter schools in the last 10 years. The CTA reflexively opposes school choice at every turn. That is why SB-907 targets Orange County and turns a blind eye to San Diego, Los Angeles, and the rest of the state.”

Parents argue SB-907 has all the hallmarks of a politically-motivated bill. It seemingly curtails local control, upends existing laws, targets selectively, does not apply consistently and fairly across the board, and is not reflective of the will of constituents. 

As such, Newman and Min will have a difficult time beating allegations of bias and manipulation.

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