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Thousand Oaks

Cathy Carlson

Retired Naval Intelligence Specialist, Cathy4County.com

I became interested in this board around 1998 when Marty Bates was the trustee from Thousand Oaks. I started to attend the meetings and got to know the superintendents. I have given speeches there on foster youth and the CHSPE exam, reminding the trustees that those students do not need to pay for this test. I’ve spoken on other subjects, such as the non-existent California Top 100 School award that was on 10 schools in the Conejo. I got help in the form of a letter to CVUSD from the superintendent around 2002 saying that no school should have their merits judged by the claim of having such a sign on their school since the State of California did not give any such award. It took 7 years to finally get the Conejo to remove those meretricious and fraudulent signs. I told Marty Bates (a Republican) that I would never run against him and asked that he let me know when he was ready to retire. He ran in 2018 and lost after serving 22 years. He died a few months later. This is now the first time I could run.

I have continued to read the minutes of their meetings. During the past year, I’ve had cordial conversations with Superintendent Cesar Morales both in person and on the phone. I was friendly with several of the past trustees, and now I’m familiar with a few of the current ones. I know parliamentary procedure extremely well and am very adept at researching Ed Code issues. This board has always been run in a collegial fashion. I admire the highly professional and businesslike demeanor of the current board. I know I would fit right in with very few “rookie” questions needed.

This board is responsible for the 3 vocational training centers in the county. There needs to be more communication with the families about these great programs. I pledge to give quarterly reports to area school districts, as well as write press releases with news and reports on the County BOE budget.

Also, the juvenile jail inmates have their education provided by this board. I pledge to visit the jail to inspect the library and the textbooks. It is important that these juvenile offenders be given some uplifting literature and not just the popular dystopic novels that are found in our local schools. In addition, I want to see about streamlining the process of allowing medications for these inmates and shortcutting the wait time for a county doctor to visit and prescribe mood medications that some of them require. These children are often incarcerated and forced off their meds for days at a time, which can have serious effects on both mental and physical health. I would like to be on a committee investigating such problems at the juvenile detention center and the camps.

The trustees are not required to give reports to the school districts in their area. Taxpayers are not aware of how their money is being spent. Many voters I’ve met were not aware that these meetings are open to the public. People were not even aware of who their incumbent trustee was or what the BOE does.

This board has managed the financing, building, and staffing of the 3 vocational centers very well. I was so impressed with the Matrix center for 3-D imaging for models at the Port of Hueneme that I toured in June. It is a partnership with the U.S. Navy. I’m sure that students from the East County would love to be interns there or attend the summer camps. But not enough of them hear about these opportunities.

I come from a family that valued education as a tool to improve and broaden the mind. My father (a retired naval carrier pilot and Lockheed satellite engineer) was asked why he was taking classes at Stanford for his 3rd Masters at age 82. He replied straight-faced, “It’s career-enhancing.” Far from it. He just loved to learn.

I got my Master in Organizational Leadership late in life. I had SO many job titles and life experiences that the professors constantly complimented me on my worldview and my writing skills. My classmates vied to be on my team when we had group projects because I would edit and polish all the weekly assignments, which invariably were returned with A+ grades. That is the advantage of returning to college after retirement –lots of time to focus on assignments.

In the same way, I will be able to focus on the committee assignments that are part of the commitment that these trustees make. It is more than just meeting once a month for 2 hours or less on a Monday night. I have the time and passion to represent the BOE at the many venues and events the trustees are invited to attend.

I am a person of integrity. I am a lifelong Lutheran. Martin Luther told us to go to the original sources and don’t let others interpret for you. I guess I listened well in confirmation class! I taught Sunday School and vacation Bible school and sang for years in the choir. I studied music as well as languages. I taught Vocal Performance at a youth center. I directed a children’s Christmas choir for years for the local Swedish Lodge and taught carols in Swedish and English. My other volunteer work with youth was as a Cub Scout Leader and a chaperone at Girl Scout camping trips.

I have taught in public schools in Northern California, teaching French, Spanish, English, Music, and Social Studies. I also did private tutoring. About ten years ago, I took training to teach English as a Foreign Language. I taught in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, at a private British language school.

During my military duty, I was Lead Petty Officer twice during two years of annual war games with live ships in the Sea of Japan. I was tasked with giving the morning situation briefs to the Admiral of the JMSDF. I had many classes in communications and public speaking. I held a Top Secret Clearance. While at Point Mugu, I tracked and reported on the Soviet submarines that patrolled our coast.

I have two financially successful adult children in their late 30s. My son was a Marine Scout Sniper in Iraq. I was working in Baghdad as a USO officer in the East while he was on duty in the West of Iraq. We never saw each other. He and his wife owned 2 homes in Thousand Oaks in their twenties. It can be done! He is now a federal geologist and has an office in California and D.C. His sister was a whiz at math. She is now a Vice President of the largest firm that manages public pension funds. She was in New York a few weeks ago closing the NASDAQ, and her picture was 40 feet high on the Times Square marquee.

As a volunteer ombudsman for the Conejo, I helped many parents cut through red tape when issues arose. I alerted the district to problems before they became legal issues. The district administrators sent me many emails thanking me for my work. I was also asked to give input in rewriting the alcohol policy after abuses were reported at school events that were illegally raffling alcohol in the presence of minors. This is a violation of the California Business and Professional Code and is enforced by the ABC (the State Alcohol and Beverage Control Agency). I coordinated with the local ABC on these issues for 5 years. Also, I was the one responsible for the discovery of the fraudulent 40 credit test given illegally with an illegal $20 charge at a local continuation school. The school was illegally using a GED practice test that was copyrighted. I worked with the California State Office of Education on this, as well as the GED offices in Princeton, New Jersey. The Acorn newspaper covered my investigation over 4 weeks. The superintendent, instead of apologizing or admitting this crime, said: “It has come to our attention that we are no longer able to use the 40 credit test. We will be exploring other means of credit recovery.” This kind of fraud boils my blood. Those students were cheated out of an education. By the way, that superintendent resigned quickly thereafter.

I promise to question every expenditure for expensive consultants and will seek ways to use in-house talent for training sessions. I promise to watch public spending by this board as carefully and as frugally as I do my own finances.


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