Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara Superintendant of Schools

When a new year gets underway, I feel it’s wise to take stock and share visions for the future, especially for our children. Though we seem to be divided on a wide range of issues, it can be helpful to lay out a unifying vision for children in Santa Barbara County that will help direct our efforts locally and make sure our priorities remain in proper focus.

No one knows what 2012 will hold. But I believe we can once again agree on a vision that embraces all of the county’s young people. It’s a simple vision, but so important that it bears repeating:

In this vision, we continue to see children growing up in good health, with a zest for learning and living. We see them with a spark inside that makes them want to share their talents with those less fortunate, and work for the good of the order, just because it’s the right thing to do.

We see children who are free of fear, free of abuse, free of drugs, free of prejudice.

We see children who are free to reach beyond their circumstances, whatever those might be, and to join a society that welcomes their contributions on the job, in the community, and in the voting booth.

And we see a community willing to work together to bring all our children closer to that dream.

It’s a vision that can become reality. If we all work together, and resist the urge to point the fingers of blame, we could form a circle of responsibility around all our children.

We could make sure that our efforts are focused on improving the conditions of children in our communities. We also need to acknowledge that working to benefit and nurture our young people is enlightened self-interest. We want what is best for our own children, but we must care about other people’s children as well — after all, it is other people’s children who will staff the emergency rooms, fly the planes, and eventually pass the laws that govern all of us.

A joint effort for today’s children could make a real difference in everyone’s future. That is my vision for all of us this coming year. I hope you will all join me as we continue our work to make it a reality.