By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Writer
There are two candidates for Kern County Board of Education Trustee, Area 7 which is an umbrella over many districts which include Ridgecrest, Tehachapi, Rosamond, California City, Frazier Park, Mojave, Inyokern, Boron, Pine Mountain Club, Lebec, Caliente, North Edwards and Keene. Candidates can not be currently teaching in a Kern County school.
Kern.org offers this description of the role of the County Board of Education: Budgetary and specific student issues are governed by the seven-member Kern County Board of Education. Board members are elected to four-year terms by voters of the several geographical regions of the county. Staggered terms of office allow the board to work continuously with the superintendent. The board makes major policy decisions in the areas of budgeting, property acquisition and development. Pupils expelled by a local school district may appeal the expulsion to the county board of education. The board also reviews inter-district transfer appeals.
This week we meet Lori Cisneros and next week incumbent Ernest Bell.
“I am running because I believe that Critical Race Theory, gender discussions and medical decisions should not be in the hands of the board. I feel like those decisions should be in the hands of the parents. I believe that I’m the perfect person for the job because I’ve been an educator for 20 plus years. I have seen firsthand what’s happening in the classrooms. I have seen some of the curriculum that has changed over the years. I believe that some of these things need to be stopped.
“I also believe that safety needs to be addressed. It’s unbelievable how many times we hear about the school shootings in America. We should have the safest schools in the whole world. It’s not that hard; we have plenty of money. There’s no reason not to have every precaution in place to protect the children.
“I have experience in the public school, private school and charter school settings. I am a parent advocate. I really love children and I have a heart for them. I want to be an advocate for the children through the parents and to protect them to make sure that they’re being educated with the fundamentals of education: language arts, math, science and social studies that fall within the scope of the standards that should be taught for each grade level from K to 12.”
Cisneros is currently not in the public schools because she listened to her heart and made a decision which cost her employment. She stresses it was a personal decision and not to be imposed upon others. “ I had a conviction in my heart to not take the COVID vaccine and to not do the weekly testing. I invoked my religious exemption because in my heart, and this is personal, I’m not saying this is for everyone, but for me. I had reservations about it. It was part of my faith that I felt like I couldn’t do that. I went through the interactive process to come up with an accommodation because by law under the Civil Rights Act, Title Seven, I have the right to invoke my religious exemption and there’s a process under the Constitution. I followed that process, but my district did not and so, as a result, they fired me and I had to regroup.”
Cisneros has continued teaching. “I’ve had to move on from that and it took a lot to recover. After 20 plus years, you can imagine. Now I still get to do my passion and teach farm workshops on my farm, which is like the best of both worlds. Students come to me and they are so excited. ‘What’s going on with the horses today? What are we doing with the goats?’ I am educating them with anatomy and how to manage a farm.”
Many of her students come from Ridgecrest and around the county through the Heartland (homeschool) Charter School. She also teaches writing online.
“I am not a politician,” she says. “I am learning as I go with this whole process.” She has been educating herself in part by attending all of the Kern County Board of Education meetings every month for a year.
Her heart for the issues prompted her to run for office but she also gained inspiration from her father, Gale Enstad, who used to be County Clerk for Kern County. “I was about maybe seven years old when he ran for office. I remember bits and pieces; I remember him being in office and then as an adult, asking him questions about what it was like to serve the community like that. He’s been a huge support for me running for trustee.
“I feel like I’m the perfect person for the job because I know what it’s like in the classroom. I see what’s happening to the curriculum and what’s being taught. And now I’m, in a sense, freed up to be able to run for this position.”