Dozens of concerned parents and citizens gathered at the Orange County Board of Education meeting to rally against SB 907, legislation by Senators Josh Newman and Dave Min – both Democrats – that would expand the Orange County Board of Education from five to seven members and move Board elections from the primary ballot to the November general election.

While Min and Newsom characterize their bill as an effort to make the OC Board of Education more “representative,” critics characterize it as a naked attempt to “pack” the Board and weaken the current majority due to its record of supporting school choice and opposition to educational fads that promote ideological fads over traditional academics.

During the past few election cycles, teachers union-funded candidates have tried, for the most part failed, to unseat conservative incumbents. SB 907 comes on the heels of those ballot box failures and is widely viewed as an attempt to engineer a more favorable political environment for electing Board members who are more left-leaning and sympathetic to public school union priorities.

Both outside the Board meeting and inside during public comment, parents and educators criticized the Min/Newsom-sponsored bill as a cynically political attempt to subvert the OC Board of Education’s democratically-elected majority.

“I want to thank each one of you for your integrity,” Catherine Lambert, a 22-year educator who teaches at Suncoast Preparatory Academy, told the Board during public comments. “A giant political scheme is being launched against you, who have stood your ground.”

“SB 907 is a direct attack on our democracy,” said Lambert, who identified herself as a registered Democrat. “Do not let them steal your power.”

Windi Eckalnd, president of Suncoast Preparatory Academy, was among the dozens of rally participants, who held signs and banner and listened to speaker inveighed against SB 907.

Eckland dismissed claims by Min and Newsom that their legislation was intended to address that they consider the unrepresentative character of the Board.

“I’ve been here when they has sat and listened to public comment and then make decisions based on that public comment,” said Eckland. “It’s so frustration when Min and Newsom claim they don’t represent their constituents.”

“Why are they singling out Orange County? San Diego County is larger and also has only five members of its county Board of Education, and LA County is way larger and only has five members of its county Board of Education” Eckland continued.

“And both of them are appointed, not elected by their constituents,” said Eckland, questioning the ostensible rationale advanced by Min and Newsom for SB 907.

Eckland wasn’t alone in her skepticism of the real motives behind Min’s and Newsom’s push to dramatically restructure the OC Board of Education while leaving every other county Board of Education untouched.

“We have 58 counties in California, 53 of which have county boards of education. Out of all those 53 county boards of education the state does not give one whit or care about how many board members each has. Only Orange County, the conservative county, by the way, is this bill concerned with. Why do these senators, these politicians, feel that this county needs more ‘representation’?”

“They might say that having seven people is more ‘democratic’ – I don’t understand the math of that. If five people were elected by the citizens of Orange County, that’s democracy,” said Lambert. “Why do you want two more people on the Board? Why do you want to change election dates? Give me a good reason. I haven’t gotten a single reason from them about why they’re doing this,” said Lambert, comparing SB 907 to President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 infamous attempt to expand the US Supreme Court in order to pack it with justices favorable to his New Deal programs.

“Since the last time the Orange County Department of Education was modified, in 1977, the population of Orange County has more than doubled. Increasing the number of trustees on the OCBOE will ensure a more representative and responsive board,” Senator Newman has stated in the media. Newsom’s logic could also be applied to the state Senate of which he is a member: that body has been fixed at 40 senators since at least the 1960s, and the number of people represented by each state senator has doubled in that time. Yet, neither Newsom nor Min has made any effort to increase the number of senators to ensure the state Senate is more “representative and responsive.”

Undermining the sincerity of Senator Min’s public rationale is his unconcealed political hostility to the current OC Board of Education majority:

SB 907 passed the Senate on a nearly party line vote of 30-9 on May 21, with only one Democrat – Senator Maria Alvarado-Gil – voting against it. Orange County Democrat Sen. Tom Umberg joined Min and Newsom in support, while GOP Senator Janet Nguyen opposed it. SB 907 now moves on to the Assembly.