10/27/2022: Updated with candidate response.
11/11/2022: Updated with request for corrections by Hillsdale College in Michigan and Saskia kennedy’s response can be seen at end of article.
According to their own websites, Fullerton Joint Union High School District candidate Matt Van Hook and Fullerton School District candidate Lisa Wozab are endorsed by Mari Barke. Both candidates made statements saying, “Mari Barke, OC Department of Education Trustee, has endorsed my candidacy, ” but both neglected to add her major involvement with Classical Academy Charter Schools and the Charter School PAC.
When asked if Matt Van Hook was an advocate of Charter schools and specifically OC Classical Academy he stated that, “I am a strong advocate for parent choice in education. I proudly support the Orange County Board of Education’s charters for the Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA) as well as the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA). I fully support OCCA’s partnership with Hillsdale College—a national leader in providing outstanding civics curricula from the top scholars in the fields of American political thought. I am proud to be endorsed by Mari Barke who has twice served as president of the OC Board of Education and who has been a strong advocate for listening to parents and students.”
When asked if Lisa Wozab was an advocate of Charter schools and specifically OC Classical Academy she stated, “Thank you for the opportunity to respond and clarify my support of public education and the Fullerton School District where I, and my son, received an excellent education. I have no affiliation with any charter schools or their curricula, including OC Classical Academy. My children have not attended charter schools. For over 8 years I have been a committed volunteer for the Fullerton School District and as a Board of Directors Member of the Fullerton Education Foundation, raising funds for teacher grants and serving on PTA and a variety of Fullerton School District committees. As well as being endorsed by incumbent Fullerton School District Governing Board Member for Trustee Area 4, Janny Meyer.”
Charter Schools PAC is a political group centered around Hillsdale, a small Christian college in Michigan whose mission is to replace public school education with charter schools that have a conservative agenda. The first of these charter schools in California is OC Classical Academy located in the city of Orange. That school, which opened in 2020, was co-founded by attorney Mark Bucher, CEO of California Policy Center, a rightwing think tank that aims to reduce union power and pensions, and former Los Alamitos Unified School Board member Jeff Barke who pushed creationism and climate denial. According to a Feb 3rd article in the OC Register, Mari and Jeff Barke along with Congressional candidate Scott Baugh have plans to open a dozen more Classical Academy charters.
A step towards that goal took place on Feb. 2, 2022 when the OC Board of Education gave the go-ahead for OC Classical Academy charter schools using Hillsdale 1776 curriculum to locate county-wide based upon local district school board approvals. The vote was 3 to 1 with Tim Shaw, Lisa Sparks and Ken Williams voting yes and Beckie Gomez voting no. Due to her involvement, Mari Barke recused herself from the vote. Mari Barke along with candidates Tim Shaw and Lisa Sparks are running for re-election on the OC Board of Education and are each supported by contributions of $75K from Charter Schools PAC. (Williams 2020 campaign was funded by over $100,000 from Charter Schools PAC and $35,000 loan from Bucher) (See https://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/)
Barke won her first campaign for OC Board of Education in 2018 funded by Charter Public Schools and Bucher’s California Policy Center. After winning her seat, she became a director at CPC. Her husband, Jeff Barke, as well as being co-founder of OC Classical Charter, is a physician in Newport who attacked public health experts like Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and the Surgeon General on social media and news broadcasts. He, as one of “America’s Frontline Doctors” was denounced for spreading misinformation on Covid-19 and treatments. According to its 2020 tax exempt application the group is a project of the Free Speech (aka Common Sense) Foundation with fiscal sponsorship of the Tea Party Patriots Foundation.
Hillsdale college promotes its curricula which Trump’s 1776 Commission report is based on. Formed by executive order, the commission was announced in a speech on September 17, 2020 with Trump saying that “the lie of systemic racism was being taught in U.S. schools.” The commission’s stated mission was to increase national patriotism and end the teaching of a ”radicalized view of American history.”
The American Historical Association saw the report differently characterizing it as “a form of government indoctrination of American students,” and “an apparent attempt to reject recent efforts to understand the multiple ways the institution of slavery shaped our nation’s history.”
Even though the Commission was disbanded when President Biden took office, it continues to insert its agenda across the nation including here in Orange County through the spread of Classical Academy Charter Schools from a base at Hillsdale College.
Larry Arnn, chair of the now defunct 1776 Commission, is president of Hillsdale College. He made statements about public education in July of 2022 that were condemned by his own faculty, students and alumni, including the following: “The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country….You will see how education destroys generations of people….It’s devastating. It’s like the plague. We are going to try to demonstrate that you don’t have to be an expert to educate a child because basically anybody can do it.”
Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative provides the 1776 curriculum to charters and homeschools and assists in founding charter schools across the nation. Currently there are 22 member academies and 44 private charter schools using the curriculum nationwide. The curriculum gets its name from the idea that American history began in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. Classical schools also provide coursework in Latin, Greek, music, ancient literature, Singapore math, grammar, principles of moral character, civic virtue and patriotism with a focus on history and cultural achievements of Western civilization.
Things they list to consider when thinking about opening a school in a district include:
“•How much funding is available per pupil? •How much flexibility do charter schools have in hiring teachers and administrators? How much flexibility in paying them? •What are the state’s curriculum standards, and how will these influence the ability to select curriculum?”
Our local school board positions are non partisan however, former California Republican Party Chair Shawn Steele is promoting “Parent Revolt,” a program created by Steele within the California Republican Party, focused on recruiting and supporting candidates to run for local education offices.
It’s website claims that schools are failing because “Powerful interest groups decide everything: When schools are open. Whether they must be masked. What they should believe about race, sex, and politics.”
What powerful interests are they talking about? What is the Republican Party’s real purpose in creating “Parent Revolt” ? Steele said on California Insider’s May 22, 2022 broadcast that “in order to overthrow the progressive agenda you’ve got to start someplace – get those local elections – get a thousand new school board members who will have great influence in their communities and out of that you’ll get new leadership…that can rule that territory forever… The first step after winning elections the new board members should fire the lawyers and superintendent who control the curriculum. “We can help you with replacements,” he said.
Who voters elect in the Nov. election will determine if the 1776 model of charter school is allowed to flourish with taxpayer funding in the public school districts of Orange County (though such schools could still locate as a private alternative). There are some wonderful charter schools, just pay attention to who is backing the candidates and what is being taught. After all, the young minds of today will be the leaders of tomorrow.
————–CORRECTION REQUESTED BY HILLSDALE AND AUTHORS RESPONSE—————
Hillsdale College Request for Corrections: Good morning. I write regarding the October 25 Fullerton Observer article “Why everyone should care about the school board candidates even if you don’t have children.” The piece contains numerous factual errors and misleading claims that inaccurately represent Hillsdale College and its work with charter schools. We respectfully request correction of the following.
1619 PROJECT: “The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
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Categories: Education, Local Government, Local News, Regional
Very enlightening article both on this specific collection of candidates but a sound warning to pay attention to what any candidates are all about before you exercise your right to vote.
So Van Hook admits that he supports the far right OC Classical Academy. I am an educator and his claim that Hillsdale College creates curricula from “top scholars in the field of political thought is absolutely not true” as Saskia’s article points out. We don’t want the chaos and dysfunction of Barke backed candidates, or white-separatist extremist schools that use our public funds, in Fullerton. Just look at what is occurring in Placentia Yorba Linda. Also, why does Lisa constantly deflect and never give a straight answer. She didn’t event answer the question about whether she is an advocate of charter schools or whether she supports OC Classical Academy. She didn’t even bother to answer the Voice of OC candidate questionnaire. Why?
I appreciate this article because it hits to some of my concerns when the Lisa Wozab flyer hit my door touting her OCBE endorsements because of the OCBE tract record.
We do not need their influence here! More concerning to me is Wozab not honest about her prior choice for private schools for her own children.
Only one of three children attended Fullerton schools and her youngest is back in private school.
She waves the public school flag proudly for her campaign but privately has taken her kids out of public school. The OCBE would also take dollars away from Fullerton’s excellent schools.
I am not anti private school or anti parent prerogative (choice), but it’s wrong to mislead voters about one’s prior choices and commitment to Fullerton schools. I welcome any clarification from Lisa Wozab regarding why she would want OCBE endorsements and why she mostly chose private schools but now wants to represent our schools.
Where is my comment?
I see your comments all over this thread.
I see you have removed comments that were thoughtful, well written, and meaningful. Looks like not only are bias but you support and engage in censorship! My husband says you might consider re-naming yourself the Fullerton Opinion (as in a singular one-sided opinion) since that is all that is represented here! P.s. people know how to screenshot their comments so while you hope to erase differing opinions… please know they still exist!
Comments are unapproved if they have slander, curse words, or other offensive behavior.
The comments by Wallace and Hudis
We’re neither slanderous nor offensive so why were they taken down?
I did not take them down. I can still see them. Maybe refreshing the page will help.
Slanderous or offensive to whom?
I can see your comments. What was removed? I know the Observer requires real names and not anonymous and does remove that kind of comment.
What a waste of time. Mine as a reader and that of the author. Nothing but hyperbole, projection, and dog whistling to the “progressive” left. It won’t change a thing other than the blood pressure of the target audience.
I’d guess that by now, pretty much everyone has picked their camp. The type of people who would be won over by this kind of claptrap would have reflexively glommed onto the leftist candidate long ago. Anyone that has not decided already but possesses the intellect needed to make a well-reasoned decision will instantly recognize this article for what it is: a poorly written smear. I could easily write a similar screed about Hanchett’s ties to the UN and Communist China, but I have better things to do.
Great birdcage liner Saskia. Want to talk about guilt by association, talk about Ruthi campaigning hand-in-hand with Ahmad Zahra. A criminal, who was arrested and charged with hitting a woman. Talk about all of the bad votes he has taken for Fullerton and attach those to Ruthi. Why not attach every bad vote that Lou Correa has made in his career. Or maybe even attach every bad vote that Sharon Quirk has made and attach them to her. After all, following your own logic “this will show us more about the candidate – why is she hiding it?” And while you’re at it, why don’t you talk about this fake sense of “non-partisanship” displayed by self-righteous blow hards like you and Sharon, and others like Jody Balma who pretend to be impartial only to go on and slam candidates outside of “official” forums. This hit piece was written so poorly, it should plainly advertise “OPINION” above it. And lastly, you’ve gotta love the Hanchett surrogates and former teachers hopping in to validate this post and the non-sense comments.
Hi Wallace, Candidate Matt Van Hook admitted he agrees with Classical Academy Charter school’s 1776 curriculum, while Lisa Wozab said she has no involvement. But, both candidates (according to their own websites) are endorsed by the founders of OC Classical Academy. If Wozab disagrees with the 1776 curriculum she could take the endorsements of Mari Barke and Lisa Sparks down from her website.
Regular Observer readers know that Zahra was “citizen-arrested” by the friend of his ex-spouse when the two confronted Zahra at his own front door, and that the “case” was dropped due to lack of evidence according to the OCDA and sealed by the court. He is not a criminal and did not hit a woman – he did admit to hitting the cell phone out of her hand with which she was filming a verbal argument between the divorced couple.
Anyone can check on the votes of local politicians by visiting votesmart where you can put in politician’s name and get all their votes made for and against. I see no “bad” votes by Sharon Quirk-Silva.
Well-respected Political Science Professor Jodi Balma is one of the most knowledgeable people in Fullerton on everything political.
The Observer just provided needed background information that informed voters should know. The information provided was fact-checked.
Voters are free to make up their own minds on what is important to them.
This is a well researched and succinct article and I too appreciate the author making these very troubling connections. Wozab and Van Hook’s endorsements are extremely problematic. Not only are they endorsed by the OCBE and the Barkes, they are also endorsed by The Parents’ Voice USA, a far right extremist Group. Wozab is also endorsed by, and is an advisor to, Fullerton.RiseUp, which she never mentions. She helped to orchestrate the school sit outs during Covid, in collaboration with Fullerton.RiseUp, which cost our district a lot of money. That doesn’t sound like someone who values public education to me.
This article is so full of half-truths, conjecture, and inaccuracies it would be laughable were it not so pathetically sad.
Grateful to the author for taking the time to put together such a well researched piece on a small, local race. It can be hard to get info on the smaller races, so this is much appreciated!
There are so many things for us to focus on when it comes to an election, an article written with a bias is not one of them. Lisa stands for our schools, parents and most importantly our children. She has served in our community of Fullerton and on many boards here for years! If she sent her kids to private schools, so be it! Maybe there’s personal reasons she did so. She’s a wife, mom, and a leader, one who is willing to fight for our kids and what’s important. She’s not focused on what social media has deemed as important or logical but what parents deem important and that’s who we need to elect!
It’s sad that this is what you’re trying to pull out to make these candidates look less appealing. Wow most people in our district were trying to keep our kids home. These two candidates were working to try to bring our kids back to school because they knew how important it was for kids to be in a school setting and not remote. Both of these candidates care about a parent say in their child’s education and see our school district as a team effort between students, parents, and staff all wanting the best for the kiddos. Maybe you should hear them out before just assuming things
Saiska- This is a well research and insightful article. This article encouraged me to research Liza a little bit more. As a parent of two children in Fullerton schools, I love and believe in the in the exceptional education my children receive. Liza Wozab’s children are not anywhere in her platform- I wondered why she doesn’t mention that they attend Fullerton public schools. Also, as I look at her service history, there are very few dates or periods of service, specifically the education based involvements; by not including dates, it seems like she is trying to deceive voters. Many of the listed service directors roles, her name is not listed on any of this sites. It makes me wonder- is she running because she has been encouraged to run by the Barkes? That she really is not invested in the success of our children and community. There are just so many suspect connections and inconsistencies. If we can’t trust her platform and service history, how can we trust her to make the best decisions for our students?
Sarah, the level of assumption here is stunning! According to you Lisa has likely done no service EVER in Fullerton, and probably doesn’t even have kids!!? Ha 🙂 And clearly she has not a single thought of her own and is only running because someone told her to! Do you know how ridiculous this sounds? Total Rubbish! Lisa Wozab is a devoted mom and wife with a long history of service in Fullerton and she cares enough to run for office in an effort to help keep our schools safe, education based, and open!
Hi Tanya, I didn’t feel I was assuming. Just asking. She didn’t list any of her service dates which implies that she still volunteers in these various capacities. Her service history should reflect like a resume- which usually includes dates of service. Why not just update the website? And I am sure she has a thought of her own…which is why she doesn’t put her children in public schools.Her thought is that she doesn’t believe in them. And that is why she endorsed by others who do not respect or value public education or they wouldn’t be trying to profit off public funds through charters. I didn’t say anything about her not having kids just that their presence within her campaign and Fullerton schools is notably absent. I am sure she has some how served the community of Fullerton but it seems that maybe being in TRUSTEE in Fullerton Elementary is not a good fit for her as she doesn’t trust her own kids in our schools.
I look forward to The Observers follow up article regarding Lauren Klatzer and Ruthi Hanchett and their endorsers, including the Teachers Union. Also looking forward to your article on Sharon Quirk Silva with her consistent voting record against parents and medical freedom. Oh yeah, darn I forgot…. those won’t be written, as the Observer only attempts to hold accountable those whom they do not support. C’mon, you can do better!
Regular readers know that the follow the money feature in the paper each election season shows all the candidate required disclosures and gives a link to the source where you can find out more and check on last minute contributions. Also the paper gives all candidates a chance to answer questions. Check out the Early October issue. Sounds like you missed it.
Tanya – you don’t have to read between lines – it is all out there – and is thoroughly fact checked – and the conclusion which clearly says there are many good charter schools. Why would we want to go with one that uses the 1776 curriculum? Or vote for anyone backed by the Barkes that schools founders? There is nothing untrue or hidden in the article. It is information that readers should know. School board positions are non-partisan. And by the way I am not a democrat but was very interested to see big republicans messing around behind scenes. I have kids and grandkids and care what they are taught in school and don’t agree with the 1776 agenda and really can’t believe you do.
Sharon, I did not assume you were a Democrat, I said the paper has a very biased left liberal agenda! And if we can not agree on that than we are not even even in the same ballpark!
Tanya – We are in the “people who live in Fullerton and care about things” ballpark. I disagree about your stated thoughts on the paper. I would agree that it is progressive with the purpose to keep residents informed about what’s going on and hopefully get together to improve our town and also to take joy in our wonderful diversity. The paper has volunteers of all backgrounds all doing their best towards that goal.
Neither Candidate appeared on my official mail in ballot.
Really getting tired of The Observer’s completely biased left liberal agenda!
I challenge your writers to actually represent the entire story for a change. Honest journalism with fair and objective reporting is a lost art or at least certainly absent in our local paper!
Not to mention that it’s completely viable and possible to support both public schools and charter schools… it’s called choice!
Isn’t the left always screaming about choice or is it only the choices that they approve of?
Tanya – sounds like you didn’t read the article which clearly is talking about the Classical Academy charter and who runs them and their agenda – not all charter schools.
I did read it! But the underlying message is bashing these candidates… we can read between the lines Sharon!
What?! a left liberal agenda? Biased? I don’t see it. I see a lot of facts reported.
Back in the day, an advisory committee appointed by the Fullerton Elementary School Board recommended that the public schools be organized on the basis of choice — for teachers and for parents to enroll their children in a school based on conservative, liberal or middle-of-the road values. The Board rejected this recommendation, even though it was shown that the schools could be integrated based on such a plan.
Great article, Saskia. Many people don’t know the “roots” of why candidates apply to run for school board. We must look carefully at outside endorsers. Why would a candidate seek their endorsements if their values weren’t aligned? Luckily, we have two wonderful candidates here in Fullerton, both fully vetted and endorsed by the teachers’ associations. They are Ruthi Hanchett (FSD) and Lauren Klatzker (FJUHSD). That’s who I’m supporting.
Can you please explain to me how Ruthi Hanchett was fully vetted and endorsed by the teachers’ associations? I would love to know the process. From my understanding, Ruthie was early endorsed by less than 5 people, during the summer, with no input from site reps, before Ruthie could pull papers to run and before Janny Myer announced she was not running again.
I am the Fullerton Elementary Teachers Association President, Darlene Naslund. I would be happy to sit down with you Mr. Davey and go over our process for endorsing School Board Candidates. Please get in touch with me via the North Orange County United Teachers office in Brea. I can assure you that Ruthi Hanchett went through the entire process of interviewing, and was not early endorsed by only five people. A vote was taken by our Executive Board who represent our members (Nurses, Primary, Upper, Jr. High, Special Ed). The Representative Council had no objection to the endorsement. Also, the interviews were open to all candidates who contacted me. The opportunities were given to interview, and three candidates (including two incumbents) did reach out and were interviewed. I look forward to meeting with you!
Correction: I cited Operation Christmas Child in my post. However, the correct name of the organization that our PTA sponsored was Toys for Tots, I believe.
Yes – why accept and display such endorsements or vote for a school operated by such a person to locate in Orange County? Google OC doctor brandishes gun in anti-mask video interview on Sept 16, 2020 to see OC Classical Charter school co-founder Dr. Jeff Barke in action. He said he’d rather see people carry concealed weapons than wear masks to protect themselves against covid. Also his claim to have privileges at Hoag Hospital were debunked by the hospital.
Guilt by association? Let’s actually ask the candidates, instead of assuming on the basis endorsement.
Why would you accept the endorsement of someone with whom you significantly disagreed?
Endorsement is more than mere association. Endorsement implies ideological alignment, and should be taken very seriously as a way of knowing what a candidate will do if elected.
You are so correct! I know for a fact Lisa does not support Charter Schools for Fullerton.
Just because an organization endorses a candidate doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate supports all the views of the endorser.
Narcis Brasov is correct!
@JannyMeyer When a candidate proudly shares endorsements from people and organizations, as a voter and regular citizen I interpret that as an indication of ideological alignment. Mari Barke is all about charter schools. If Lisa doesn’t support that, why would she accept and boast of her endorsement? Given Lisa’s own affinity for non-public schools (she mostly sent her kids to private schools as we know), do you really expect me to believe that she wouldn’t support these kinds of schools.
As long as the candidate answers honestly and is forthcoming about who they are, we could. But how do you really know? One candidate acted as though her children were products of the public school. But then I learned that her three children spent most of their time in private schools, with only one spending any time in a public school before returning back to private school. That’s her complete right. To choose private schools for her kids. But why was that hidden? I’ve read that her endorsers have “training” on how to get on public school school boards. Quite frankly, this all scares me.This isn’t about being a Republican or a Democrat. I’ve supported many wonderful board members from both parties. This is different. Read the LA Times article that came out recently about the consequences of the takeover of Placentia- Yorba Linda School District by three extremists. CSUF has pulled their student teachers. Their superintendent has resigned with no one on the horizons and lots teachers are leaving. Two of our Fulllerton candidates are endorsed by the same outsiders that endorsed PYLUSDs School District. Why would anyone want to take that chance??? Fulllerton schools, both the elementary district and the high school district, are fabulous. They offer many choices for students and parents. And they teach REAL history and are inclusive. We have excellent candidates that are fully vetted and endorsed by the teachers, Ruthi Hanchett and Lauren Klatzker. When in doubt, I trust the teachers.
You are spot on Marcy, keep your eyes open and go with your gut as you are and trust your teachers. They are not your enemies and the anti-Union talk is fear mongering. I live in the PYLUSD boundaries and what’s happening is horrible. But the horse is out of the gate, they have momentum with their agenda and it is now hard to turn the tide. You have a wonderful district, keep it that way – you don’t want it ruined.
That’s not the Kennedy way.
The candidates were asked multiple times.