Op Ed: A New Community School for Santa Barbara Children

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 thoreaucommunityschool@gmail.com.

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  1. This is a pipe dream. Democratic led school boards are funded by teacher unions who back left leaning politicians who want a large voter base. How do democrats increase their voters base? By making sure kids are not properly educated and rely of big gov’t handouts = poorly run public schools. If non-lefties ran the school boards, then you would have a much better public education system and no need for alternative schools. Your tax $’s would not be wasted on “feel good” programs that actually hurt the very people they are supposed to be helping. Teachers would be allowed to teach and pass/fail kids based on merit. Vocational programs would be re-introduced for kids who want to go into different career paths that do not required a bloated college education.

  2. The comment made by RHS “Are you hiring on the basis of the experience of the teachers'” in my mind is completely wrong, it should be “Are you hiring and maintaining the best teachers”. As long as public schools continue with the Last in in first out approach to cutting staff with no meaningful teacher review and termination I will never support public schools.

  3. Surprisingly public schools cost more than private school according to the latest Dept of Ed. (DOE) data shows that governments spent an average of $14,439 for every student enrolled in K–12 public schools in the 2016–17 school year. In comparison, Just Facts estimates that private schools spent an average of $8,039 per student in the same year. Monies rarely make it to the classroom in public schools. We need to make systemic changes to the public system, it is expensive , and in many ways ineffective and does not meet the needs of those with learning differences, english language learners or foster youth. Our children are suffering and not able to read by end of the third grade; many not able to take a-g courses or attend a four year university. Systemic change is long overdue. The system is broken and expensive and not meeting student’s needs.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Why is exodus from a failing institution a bad thing? While many public institutions like the our school system seemed to be getting by okay, a crisis like this pandemic hits and really shines a spotlight on inadequacies, inefficiencies, and failures of these institutions. In the case of the public schools, it laid bare that the education and wellbeing of our children is NOT their #1 priority. If the education and well being of our kids is not the #1 priority of public school districts why should they get a monopoly and control over our educational tax dollars?

  8. I was interested until I read #4. If I wanted my child indoctrinated by left wing politics and ridiculous ideology that actually promotes racism to grade school children….I’d just send them to public school.
    Imagine a school without petty politics of adult children…when you mention Shakespeare and Pascale before describing to me your feelings about “inclusion” and “diversity”…then I will listen. And please stop with the “children get to make choices about what and how they study….” The whole point of school is to teach our children how to think critically and how to study. Letting them decide what they think is important at 10 years old is a recipe for disaster.

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