Andy Thorburn is running for the Orange County Board of Education, District Three, which includes North Tustin. Thorburn is a former teacher and worker’s rights advocate. He is also very active in local community services Boards, including the Community Action fund for the Orange County Planned Parenthood chapter, and the Huntington Disease Task force.
The Orange County Board of Education has oversight responsibilities for the Orange County Department of Education (Superintendent). They run a school district of 6-7000 students, including the most vulnerable in the county: some incarcerated, some expelled, some needing an alternative program. The Board statutory function is to approve budget for the county Department of Education. The most contentious function for the Board is as an appellate division for charter schools that are rejected by school districts.
The current Board does not reflect current Orange County values; they look like the Orange County from 30 years ago. There is a three-to-two majority of very conservative trustees, with highly religious intent and a libertarian outlook. They have been holding anti-inclusion workshops and forums, focused on undermining the CA Healthy Youth Act, and removing local district control on charter schools. This majority is not driven by policy, they are driven by a far right wing ideological agenda. They are not working for the betterment of our schools and students. Mr. Thorburn’s opponent, incumbent Ken Williams, has appeared on radio and television programs defending abstinence only sex education programs and believes in conversion therapy for LGBTQ students. He is a strong advocate for charter schools.
This radical right wing majority is also holding hostage the budget approval for the current fiscal year. The Board and the Superintendent did not agree on the final budget, and have not been able to come to a conclusion. The State Board reviewed the situation, and found that the County Board overstepped their authority. In response, the County Board is now suing both the State and County Superintendents. This is a gross waste of taxpayer money and efforts.