By now, every household with a TV in the 25th Congressional District has probably seen the ads claiming Christy Smith, former Newhall School District board member and candidate for Congress, voted to lay off teachers because “she puts herself first.” These blatantly misleading pieces of disinformation are funded and disseminated by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, both political action committees that promote Republican candidates. In their zeal to smear Smith they choose to ignore the truth because they want to distract from the fact that their candidate has no public education credentials nor does he have a genuine public education platform.
It’s been stated multiple times — in the midst of the Great Recession and facing potentially devastating budget cuts, school districts were forced to send layoff notices to teachers by a March 15 deadline, a practice mandated by California state law. During those awful years the Newhall school board, composed of Republicans and Democrats, voted 5-0 to send the notices, as did every other board in the 25th Congressional District. We did everything we could to hire these teachers back — and we did. Don’t believe us? It’s been recently substantiated by PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning online publication: https://bit.ly/2SkxjQ9.
Here’s a snapshot of Politifact’s findings: Christy didn’t vote to lay teachers off — she voted to give teachers layoff notices in a year with an economic downturn, by March 15, a date set in state law. As you can see in the article, the ultimate action taken was that teachers were reinstated after the state budget was finalized. These were votes of elected representatives exercising their fiduciary responsibility to protect the public’s tax dollars and the solvency of the district during the worst recession in American history. Did Smith have “mixed up priorities” as one ad claims? No, she was clear-eyed about the issues and necessary actions. Did Smith vote to save these teachers’ jobs once the budget picture was clarified? Yes – that’s the glaring part the Republican operatives who generated these deceptive ads chose to leave out.
If you dismiss our view, or the PolitiFact analysis, how about hearing directly from teachers? If you still need further evidence of teacher support for Christy, we invite you to read an open letter from a bipartisan group of teachers who also verify the explanations above, state their support for Christy, and call on Mike Garcia to disavow the ads – something he has chosen not to do. The teachers’ letter can be found here: https://bit.ly/3jbNs6f.
We hope voters accept the evidence that debunks these ads and can see through them. Christy Smith has been a longtime advocate for our neighborhood schools and a staunch supporter of teachers. In her long list of education advocacy efforts, she worked as an analyst in the U.S. Department of Education, served as PTA president, and launched a nonprofit to raise resources for Newhall School District. She chaired the successful Measure E Proposition 39 bond campaign for the Newhall district, which has provided $60 million in resources for facility and technology upgrades. Christy’s accomplishments in the state Assembly cemented her status as a prolific legislator, especially her attention to education issues as a member of the education committee. When it comes to education, there’s only one candidate: Christy Smith.
Mike Garcia, given his website’s policy section, appears to have no knowledge of, or position on, schools. So Mike, we ask, what are your positions on full federal funding for special education students, a goal that has never been met? Title I compensatory education funding for students living in poverty and English language learners? The student debt crisis? We could go on – while education is a state function, the federal government has many funding streams that support the states. Maybe Garcia’s stance falls under his now-famous statement that people need to “fend for themselves.”
If you are concerned about supporting the successful schools in the 25th District, don’t be fooled by the disinformation campaign of the Republican Party. Christy Smith is the only vote in this election.
Alexis Yannich, former assistant superintendent of human resources, Newhall School District
Marc Winger, treasurer, Christy Smith for Congress; former superintendent, Newhall School District