Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

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By Allison Turkish

Imagine an elementary campus where the children are happy, eager to learn, and love to come to school every day. They are heard by their peers and teachers and get to make choices about what and how they study.

These are just some of the goals of a proposed free non-profit charter school for TK-6th grade students in the Santa Barbara area named Thoreau Community School (TCS).

SBUSD’s School Board will vote on the TCS charter petition on Tuesday, February 23.  If you would like a school like Thoreau to come to our area, would you please write to the Board members and share your opinion?

As part of the Founding Group, I am excited to have the opportunity to bring this school to Santa Barbara. I believe Thoreau Community School will inspire this current generation of children to have a lifelong appreciation of the world around them while learning to be smart, compassionate, creative, and uniquely themselves.  What a gift to our community!

TCS understands the importance of educating the WHOLE child, attending not only to academic needs but also their social and emotional development. 

1.    Our school climate will be characterized by safety, kindness, and joy in learning where every student is known and cared for.
2.    Our nature-based program includes outdoor classroom spaces, frequent participation in a school garden, day trips to spend time in places of wild character. Students will learn to care for themselves, others, and the environment. 
3.    Children will engage in hands-on activities and projects in order to have authentic, meaningful learning.  In addition, our students will have many opportunities to express their creativity through arts education (art, drama, music, dance, etc).
4.    We celebrate diversity and will teach about different cultures.  We believe in JEDI (justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion).

We will be a most awesome school.  If you would like to learn more, please visit our website at https://www.thoreaucommunityschool.org/ (available to read in English or Spanish), call or text 805-243-8940, or email [email protected].


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PitMix Feb 23, 2021 07:49 AM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

I notice you don't post references for your ludicrous assertions. Idaho, Texas, and CA are all ranked in the 30s for K-12 education. Idaho doesn't even have the excuse of large urban populations so they must be really underfunded. Here's the link to US News and World Report.
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/education

sblocal1967 Feb 22, 2021 07:33 PM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

Texas and Idaho have very healthy public school systems. Arkansas and Miss are very poor states and do a lot more with their money than CA. I do not think this is a laughing matter. What the elected officials, school admin and SBTA Union are doing is complete fraud. Capps is the worse of them. She is fully paid for by the teachers union and only looks out for their interest. She is using the School Board as a way to climb the political ladder. By showing her loyalty to the people who give her money she then will get more financial backers to represent in higher offices. It is a shame that the the School Board is polluted with this type of scum.

letmego Feb 22, 2021 03:59 PM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

Sacjon, some organizations rank Texas schools better than California now.

That aside, I'm not sure what planet SBLOCAL lives on. We have a lot of vocational programs. Construction, automotive, cooking, medical, computers/IT.

Also, the effectiveness of retention (failing kids) isn't clear. There are plusses and minuses to the practice. Failing (or promoting) kids without intensive intervention is pointless. And intensive intervention is expensive.

PitMix Feb 22, 2021 01:39 PM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

Be interesting to see if they can pull it off. They want to have an outdoor campus downtown somewhere but really how many suitable sites are there in that area? Indy had more info on the proposal.

dukemunson Feb 22, 2021 12:54 PM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

I'd love love LOVE more school options! As long as we aren't nabbing funding from other schools, adding more options is a huge win! I'd love a charter school for my kids that spent more time outside and was more like 5 hours per day instead of 7. Let's get away from the idea that choice is bad in our local education and create additional (free!) educational opportunities...why do we insist on this one size fits all 815am to 3pm model in which it's almost entirely (other than recess) conducted sitting at a desk. We've held onto it for too long!! Bring on the Thoreau school, bring back OAS and get Trivium a better location!!

dukemunson Feb 23, 2021 09:15 AM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

Sbtownie - it seems like a really nice spot, and I think they had just added a 3rd day in person pre-COVID (which might have compelled us to switch as 2 days just didn’t work for us). As with most charter schools the facilities aren’t great... but hopefully someday our leaders actually decide to care about education and allocate some more money for it (and don’t let the teachers union syphon it all directly to them). Options are good... one size fits all education isn’t to anyone’s benefit. And as we saw this past year, our school districts are too big to succeed... they crumbled and failed us all, most notably and tragically our children!

dukemunson Feb 22, 2021 09:29 PM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

845pm - we have friends at trivium that love it (when it was in person at least), which is a charter school that is open 2 days per week. Not sure exactly how they word it to to the state to get funding and only be two days per week, but the understanding is they teach certain subjects and you are supposed to home school the others. Two days a week didn’t work for us (3.5 or 4 days though would!) but I appreciated the 9am start and the outside the box thinking.

So... there is certainly no hard and fast minimum hours... and as such let’s stop getting stuck in this box of making it political. It’s ok to have options and choices... and no they don’t all have to be church based... let’s have flexible schedules to accommodate kids as best as we can. Yeah it means our taxes go up a little and not all the new money goes to existing public schools. Sorry teachers union and anti tax crusaders!!! It’s time to put our kids first... and to hell with the teachers union!!!

lovesbalot Feb 22, 2021 11:37 AM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

This is exactly what Santa Barbara Unified School District needs. It is similar to Open Alternative which tragically closed by our former Superintendent despite overcrowded room full of parents and students begging to keep it. Thoreau Charter will be a safe and meaningful space for many students but particularly those with learning differences who fall through the cracks at SBUSD and excel at project based learning in smaller setting, valuing social justice, equity and learning from nature. Students with learning differences, english language learners and foster youth have fallen through the cracks at SBUSD because many need a different approach to literacy and learning. Love this and need this .

RHS Feb 22, 2021 09:59 AM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

Are you paying your staff well, do they have benefits such as sick leave, vacation, retirement? Are you hiring on the basis of the experience of the teachers or on their political support of your agenda? If you have such enthusiasm for elementary education why don't you work within the rules and support public schools that are for all, not just the selected few that you propose to favor? Public education is one of the great reforms of the United States. We do not profit by undermining it with claims that some people are going to "do it right" while the great majority of educators are left suspect. I will not support this effort nor should the broader community.

dukemunson Feb 22, 2021 01:04 PM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

RHS - I see your point...but I think having options is nice. Not everyone needs (nor wants) the exact same education system that each school in their district provides. I for one think 7 hours of school per day (and starting at 815am) is crazy. Science has shown that we shouldn't be waking kids up as early as we do. I understand that many parents need those hours though and are happy with it. I am equidistant though to 4 elementary schools...it would seemingly be doable (and nice) if in our SB/Goleta bubble we thought outside the national system that has been in place for seemingly ever and created some options. I'd prefer the year round school too! Why do 2.5 month Summer? Lets have a school that does a 1.5 month summer and spreads that last month off throughout the year (longer winter break, Spring break, etc). That's a win for X number of parents and kids.

RHS Feb 22, 2021 12:58 PM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

No one is forced to go to Laguna Blanca either. The idea of too many/most charter schools is to create an elitist/superior student body by attracting the talent and family support from local "public" schools. This leaves those schools even more behind in their ability to educate the community that depends on them. The idea of "charter schools" being akin to "public schools" is much the same as the "academies" that now take all the best high school athletic talent to prepare them for success in sports while depriving the local school of the spirit and joy of a successful school activity that all would benefit from and which would give spirit to the community.

a-1614018047 Feb 22, 2021 10:20 AM
Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

RHS, are charter schools not public? You are quite dismissive. In general, traditional public schools in California can leave much to be desired. I'm not sure how anyone could argue that the variety of needs of all students are met, some students need a different approach. It is a good thing to have alternative options. No one is forced to use them.

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