I was privileged to watch and work with Malibu School Board member Craig Foster for over 13 years. I watched as he shifted from engaged parent and teacher to statesman and visionary. The Malibu community has much to be thankful for as Craig’s leadership and tenacity has led to so many positive changes and advancements for the children of all the communities of the SMMUSD.
But we in Malibu owe him a debt of gratitude, which he would never acknowledge because that is not who he is. He works quietly and persistently to get things done. As a board member, he has been in the energy and direction behind a new middle and high school, millions of dollars of funding for new programs, and has fought for students in Malibu to have equal access to the best public education and programs available. We have a Malibu pathway, which gives our schools and administration and teachers a direct line to a district that has often not seen the difference that our community has and continues to have.
Yes, it takes a village, and many community members share in making the successes a reality. But under Craig’s leadership, a new high school is working its way through the approval process and will be a hallmark of innovative use of space and location that will enhance the educational experience of students and teachers. Additionally, Craig has never forgotten that he also represents that thousands of students and families in the Santa Monica area, always pushing for greater transparency, better fiscal management, and improved educational programs. I remember one of the first board members he was a part of, where he took his fellow board members to task for not looking at ways to reduce administrative costs so that reductions in teachers need not happen.
He has also championed so many programs at all the Malibu schools, helping maintain our excellence in math, science, language arts and theater arts. When Craig first ran for school board, he, me, and Karen Farrer ran as a slate to raise awareness of the need for a separate Malibu school district, and the need for our community to have self-determination and share the many benefits of the unique community we live in. He kept his eye on the prize and persisted in his efforts and eventually overcame the barriers of being from Malibu in winning a seat on the board. Even as the only member from Malibu and the frustrations that came with that, he has never lost sight of the bigger picture, which was to provide a remarkable education for all the students of the school district. All along he has kept teaching so he can remain connected to the importance of what children need.
My only regret is that in his eight-year tenure, the Santa Monica school board members led by members Keen, Lieberman, Tahvildaran-Jesswein, Leon Vazquez and now Smith and Coleman would never let go of their relentless fear of losing power to allow him to be president of the board. Our district and students would have been so much better had they allowed it. They did not know that he is the fairest and most pragmatic human being and would have been able to balance his support for Malibu and the needs of the entire district. Shame on them for this lack of fairness and leadership.
We as a community need to honor his legacy, and celebrate every time we go by the new high school and every time a Malibu student graduates from our schools. Thank you, Craig, for all you have and will do, Malibu and all the students and teachers of Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District cannot acknowledge enough the immeasurable contributions you have made.
Seth Jacobson, Malibu