Whitney Antrim has a successful career as a Deputy Public Defender for the County of San Diego, a family with two young children, and is dedicated to serving her veteran community. So, why is she running for school board? Now, in the middle of a global pandemic, when the town and nation lie in the throngs of civil unrest, and parents are taxed with navigating online learning in addition to other job responsibilities?
“Nothing is more important to me than the education of our children,” says Antrim. “And, I love a challenge.”
Antrim—a lifelong resident of Coronado, and Coronado High School grad of 1997—has spent her life serving others. Born to a US Navy SEAL and an American Airlines flight attendant, Antrim says she was instilled with values of strength, service, and hard work. Antrim graduated from University, Santa Barbara then pursued her law and business degree at Vanderbilt University Law School and the Owen School of Business.
These days, Antrim runs San Diego County’s Homeless Court and Stand Down programs for homeless veterans, and also spends time volunteering at the San Diego Food Bank. This, of course, is in addition to her day job.
“[Being a Deputy Public Defender] means I get up every day to defend individual’s Constitutional Rights and those who are less fortunate,” says Antrim.
A big part of her work is ensuring equal access to the justice system. The spirit of this endeavor carries over into education, where Antrim advocates for equal access to resources and fair administration in our schools, even during this tumultuous time.
“Just because we are in a time of crisis doesn’t mean our other issues go away,” Antrim says on her campaign website. “Education of future generations is a big responsibility with long term impacts. We must always maintain a focus on what is best for our kids.”
Antrim knows she has her work cut out for her.
“CUSD is facing the same issues as most U.S. schools presently: the impacts of the pandemic, reckoning with some painful history, and strained budgets,” says Antrim.
But there is a silver lining, and Antrim is posed to help.
“Fortunately, as a smaller district, we enjoy a degree of autonomy that will allow us to be more responsive and to find the best solutions for our community,” says Antrim. “My long history and many relationships with the community will be helpful, and my analytical mind and unending curiosity to find novel solutions are well-suited to this town’s issues. We need creative thinkers who understand Education Law and will critically review polices and other long-term effects.”
The global pandemic is clearly creating all sorts of learning challenges for school children and their parents, resulting in seismic changes in education. With nearly two decades of government service, Antrim says she knows what it takes to find solutions, navigate complicated governmental agencies, and get things done.
“Children need to be back in school learning, and parents need to be working instead of trying to be teachers, but teachers need to be safe and supported, and we all need to remain healthy,” she says on her website. “Open communication and improved use of technology will assist us. Looking past 2020, recovering and rebuilding after the pandemic-driven fiscal crisis will take creativity, determination, and vision.”
Antrim says that we must educate our children to become adults who can navigate global crises (like pandemics and climate change) and global opportunities (like trade and technology) with an eye on local impacts of global phenomena.
“I have been on the front lines of the pandemic response in our superior courts to make the justice system function and can apply these skills, such as using video communication across different platforms…and [I am] uniquely positioned to bring these perspectives to CUSD as we transition into a post-pandemic world,” says Antrim. “Moreover, I have the unique perspective of having been a student here, and an occasional turn on the other side of the desk – as a guest speaker for Career Day and Constitution Day, as well as a guest coach for the mock trial team. I also come from a family of educators so I am empathetic to their predicament in these trying times.”
When it comes to inclusivity and social justice, Antrim says that recent protests have laid bare racial divisions in our schools. She says we need to embrace each other in all of our differences as members of the same community, while at the same time providing the highest quality education.
“We need to start this work immediately by setting a zero-tolerance policy for race-based or bias incidents. I applaud the current board for their initial steps in this area,” says Antrim. “We need ALL of our community to acknowledge and engage in the difficult discussions around race in America. Failing to do so — pretending it’s not a problem, that it doesn’t apply to us, that it doesn’t happen here — is failing our kids.”
As a military town, Antrim says that our community members have fought and died for the US Constitution, and we must fight to extend the promise of the American Dream to all community members, including our kids.
In fact, it’s the diversity of Coronado’s citizens–the eclectic mix of military personnel, professionals, entrepreneurs and artists–that make it so special.
“We reflect democracy at its best,” says Antrim.
When she’s not working, volunteering, or spending time with her family, Antrim is cooking or reading. You’ll also find her biking by the beach, at Saiko Sushi with her family, or enjoying a date night at Stake or Tartine.
Antrim says that growing up in a special community like Coronado inspires her to make it a better place for future generations.
“My grandfather, Stan Antrim, Sr, was a tireless advocate for the youth of Coronado,” says Antrim. “I want to follow in his footsteps.”
Antrim says she is committed to communication and transparency, both in her campaign and once elected. Learn more about her at www.whitneyantrim.org, and email her with questions at [email protected].
“I don’t have any agenda other than helping support great schools for great kids,” says Antrim.