Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

SB Unified  Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado at the Love of Literacy Luncheon title=
SB Unified Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado at the Love of Literacy Luncheon
Reads 3194

Source: Santa Barbara Education Foundation

On Wednesday, September 29, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation hosted the Love of Literacy Luncheon to highlight the need for support for students struggling with reading in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. 

The outdoor gathering in Elings Park's Godric Grove raised over $60,000 in funds to train SB Unified teachers in methods to more effectively work with emergent multilingual learners and students with learning differences, including those displaying characteristics of dyslexia.

The event featured speakers who highlighted why literacy is critical for later life success and positive health outcomes. 

Publisher and arts advocate Sara Miller McCune shared her thoughts on the importance of literacy. "Reading is more than a way to learn. It is also a way to be happy. It is also a way to grow as an individual, and it is a door that opens in your life and will never be closed afterward. And I feel that every child in this region deserves to have that ability as a human right."

In addition to sharing her own struggles with reading as a young student in an ESL (English as a Second Language) program, California State Senator Monique Limón supported the need to help struggling readers with hard facts. "If you were a student who was eligible for the national school lunch program, you scored an average of 31 points lower than those who were not eligible. What we are seeing here is that there are structures that make it very difficult for student populations who already struggle in other areas. And to me, it is very important that we try to find a way to help our communities and our students be sure that they can read by the third grade."
Ever the educator, SB Unified Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado, led the group in an activity to help guests experience what it is like for a student who cannot use context to understand what they are reading. 

According to Dr. Maldonado, students fall behind in developing reading skills for many reasons, including learning disabilities, dyslexia, or they are still learning English as a second language. "And so that is the spectrum of learners that we need to look at when we think about professional development. That's the kind of investment we need to make in how our teachers are given the skill sets that they need in order to teach."

In a commitment to supporting SB Unified's struggling readers, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation is continuing to fundraise for an additional $40,000 to implement this essential literacy professional development project.

SBEF also wishes to recognize and thank Love of Literacy Luncheon sponsors, including Pillar Sponsors: Sage Publishing and Montecito Bank & Trust; Ambassador Sponsors: Chevron, KBZ Architects, Lazy Acres, Mechanics Bank, and Tisha Ford; Champion Sponsors:  19six Architects, Arroyo Seco, First 5 Santa Barbara County, Montecito Journal, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, and Mark Watson Professional Fiduciary; with additional support provided by Griffin & Thornburgh, San Marcos High School Culinary Arts Program, and Tecolote Book Shop.

Santa Barbara Education Foundation promotes private support of Santa Barbara's public education system, serving almost 13,000 students in 19 schools. For more information, visit

Login to add Comments


Show Comments
lovesbalot Oct 11, 2021 02:03 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Matsuoka kicked Cheri Rae out of the district a long time ago. The district is now going in their own direction with Sara Miller McCune's balanced literacy consultants Fisher and Frey. Balanced Literacy has been discredited by it's own author, Lucy Calkin's because it is based on guessing a word from the context rather than the evidenced based method referred to as "science of reading" which teaches decoding . If you can't decode you will get behind. That is why only 36% of our students are proficient.

Scores have been stagnant for years for our most vulnerable learners, those with learning differences, our foster youth, english language learners and those with socioeconomic hardship. This is literally thousands of students who fall through the cracks and are years behind as our district clings to a failed approach by publisher's who are invested in a flawed , outdated system that is a key culprit in the school to prison pipeline. If you not proficient by end of 3rd your 4x more likely to drop out . That's how so many go from the education system to the justice system. Look at the outcomes. Only 2% of our english language learners and only 6% of our students with differences get to take the A-G's and be eligible to apply to a four year UC. How is that equity. Many do not have the means to get outside support and are stuck with painfully low scores and leadership that does not follow science or best practices; like automatic testing , the science of reading or even reducing class sizes. Painful that thousands are wounded by the system that resists science and embraces outdates methods despite advocates begging for change.

Transparent Oct 11, 2021 02:16 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

A good friend of mine is a progressive educator / literacy specialist. She told me that (in her opinion) we are slowly figuring out that the past ~20 years we were chasing a fad... and swinging the pendulum back towards basic decoding / phonics is where it's at.

Just her opinion/experience, but an educated one... I applaud the growth-mindset in any case.

lovesbalot Oct 11, 2021 03:33 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Transparent: Your friend is so right about this. This is an issue around the country. The schools can't do this alone and the community needs to make sure it happens because it leads often to homelessness, mental health issues, drop out, and worst of all lost potential to those we are obligated to give a free and appriate education by law. Parents in Minneapolis were protesting last week for the science of reading. Parents are upset and Emily Hanford, the investigative reporter who disclosed why so many are failing because the balanced literacy or cueing approach. The is an educational , current trailer about a movement I whole heartly support.. the truth about reading.... here is a link that you may have to copy.... Thanks .

sbdude Oct 11, 2021 03:57 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Right on Transparent. SB Unified, like many districts, implements new learning systems for underperforming students every few years. Whatever the latest fad is, they implement. None of these things ever work, so they are constantly searching for some new system that will be the Big Solution. Old school tried-and-true solutions are frowned upon. I guess administrators are just attracted to the new and shiny. Meanwhile, nothing ever really changes, outcome-wise.

salsipuedes Oct 12, 2021 07:51 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

This would be a lot more interesting, compassionate and decent if they were allocating money to provide compensatory reading instruction for all those students they have failed to teach to read over the years, when they have simply ignored the fact they fail to teach HALF the kids in their care to read. Their lack of accountability is appalling. They just figured out that it's important for a school district to teach kids to read? That is some insight and profound leadership. And it seems like they could find money in the budget to teach teachers how to teach reading, the most basic part of schooling, instead of raising it from the community like it's an add-on.

letmego Oct 12, 2021 10:01 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

It's not that they have ignored the fact. Reading, and reading to comprehend, has been a #1 goal for several years now. Unfortunately, the district rolled out a new curriculum many years ago. It took a few years to roll it out and train the teachers. Then you start collecting results (hard when there were 2 years with no CAASPP tests), and realize "oops, this only works for kids who know how to read". Then you basically start over. I think schools and districts are trying to do more with less - I mean, the fact of the matter is you need smaller class sizes and early and individual intensive intervention. This requires bodies and MONEY. And there's always this push to find the magic that doesn't require that. There is no magic. Look at Franklin. How did they do what they did? MONEY.

Babycakes Oct 12, 2021 08:58 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

I don't know how progressive it is to churn out students year after year from high school who can barely read or write. How does this happen? Why do teachers/educators allow this? I do not want to give teachers raises when so many of them fail to teach our kids the basics. Maybe that's what they want to do....churn out uneducated young adults who don't have the necessary skills, but vote "the right way."

letmego Oct 12, 2021 09:58 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

When were you last in a classroom? To give you a small idea of what teachers are up against...many teachers have large classrooms 28-32 students in kindergarten/ first grade. The curriculum for teaching reading is chosen by the district. In our local district, Lucy Calkins - which is great for kids who can read easily, but apparently is a dismal failure for those who struggle. And it took several years to even roll out that curriculum. (Then you realize it's a failure, then you have to start over).

In addition to those two, remember that you have children of wildly varying abilities in one classroom. When my kid was in 3rd grade, reading 5th-7th grade books, there were children who were still at 1st grade. Good luck teaching 25+ children with reading levels that span 5-7 different grade levels (without reading specialists).

It's not really the's not like you could swap all the students at a "failing" school with all the students at a "successful" school, and suddenly the failing students would be passing.

Byzantium Oct 12, 2021 05:23 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Too many studies prove class size is not the controlling factor in student success, plus each classroom today has a classroom aid as well as a certificated teacher. Even throwing more money at our failing classrooms turned out to be a dismal failure too, when Gov Brown sent more money under the local control funding program - but there was zero improvement in classroom performance - only improvement in personnel compensation packages. Only after we actually (1) elect new school board members, (2) new state legislators and a (3) new state superintendent of education who put student outcomes at the top of the list, and not succumbing to the current special interest that control public education, will we finally begin to see improvement. Plus (4) theentire CSU teacher training programs, up and down this state, must be materially re-vamped. They all fail as unacceptable training programs, when subject to peer review. That is a lot of heavy lifting to get change, but the larger question right now is how did we let our K-12 system with all these moving parts get so dysfunctional? Rested on our laurels for too long because we did have a good K-12 system in the past. Also do you thin the barrage of teacher union marketing pronouncements are public service announcements and not patent attempts to control their own pro-teacher union agenda? - Student outcomes were least of their concerns, if even mentioned. Listen very carefully when you hear any of these again. Under-current message in all of them - give us more money and tell us you love us. The irony is loving a subject matter and loving to teach is the best formula for success of all. What we have today are an excess of unhappy and resentful teachers and that attitude poisons the classroom. They all need to opt out of their teachers union membership who only perpetuate anger, divisiveness and resentment, and get back to the basics of loving teaching - the rewards will soon follow.

chico berkeley Oct 12, 2021 06:51 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

If I could I would give you a thumbs up.
We grew up with 25-32 students in a classroom.
Something is upside down in teaching and it's not CRT,thats just a symptom.
I saw mention of Phonics.
That is how we learned to put words together,
and you also learned comprehension.
Missing in todays education.

Byzantium Oct 12, 2021 09:29 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

When I was a kid in the 1950's-1960's, "Why Johnny Can't Read?" was on every parents reading list. So this is not a new controversy. Lack of progress and resolution is the controversy today. Phonics versus Whole Language has enough data by now to sort this conflict out once and for all and move on. Wondering which one I got when taught to read in the second grade, we started with the Dick and Jane books, see spot run. Phonics or whole language - apparently it was a combination of both. 1950's. I know I became an avid reader from my own start with Dick and Jane. Nor did I observe many of my same generation totally failing to read at grade level all the way through higher ed- so there were success stories from the 1950-1960's generation of students. In retrospect, there must have been failures too. What can we learn from that era, which many do now look back on as the golden years for California public education. Maybe pre-K is the fault - by the time one was in the second grade they had heard many spoken words, so recognizing them as written words had a high degree of familiar recognition. Are we now trying to teach kids to read too early, before they have a developed aural vocabulary? Wild guess here.

lovesbalot Oct 12, 2021 09:46 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

So true Salsipuedes: Why are we fundraising for teacher training for should be coming out of the general fund . Isn't literacy a human right and a given. The idea that literacy is an add on that has to be paid by the community shows that it is an afterthought to leadership. Why aren't they doing what successful districts do... follow science, science of reading, get reading interventionist in the class room, reduce class sizes and do automatic testing like Senator Monique Limon 's bill recommended. Even in the summer of learning only 200 students with learning differences were invited yet the adminastrators paid a bonus of 900,000. for teachers to teach part time in summer learning . And they paid thousands for expensive consultants to give teacher seminars... consultants
from Corwin, Fisher Frey. I wish that more students with differences were invited since there are over 2,000. They need reading interventionists not pricey consultants for teacher training that is not in an evidenced based approach. So much money is misspent and goes to special interests instead of the students and purpose it is intended for. I went to LCAP advisors and so did other parents. None of us got to participate in a meaningful way. Many came to the board to complain that the meeting had foregone conclusions and very little was going to reading interventionist. Under Superintendent Maldonado we now have 13 new assistant principals... and they don't do reading intervention. This is why the community needs to take this on. The schools get a new Superintendent and as history shows we still don't have a science based approach. Talking to the board is something of a waste of time. Community awareness is the only thing that will change any of the horrible fallout for so many youth. Let's sell that albatross the Armory (26.5 million) and use it for all the students that are treated as collateral damage. Heartbreaking... and I agree appalling. Literacy is a given. Why can't we get it done in Santa Barbara?

letmego Oct 12, 2021 09:53 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

And the schools that do have reading specialists/ for it partially (or fully) out of funds raised by the PTA. I know our elementary school has a high need for these specialists, but the site funding isn't enough to fund what we need. Fully half of our paltry PTA budget goes to specialists.

lovesbalot Oct 12, 2021 10:17 AM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Sadly the district wastes money. The 900,000. bonus to get teachers to do part time summer learning on top of their regular salary and then they were paid another stipend extra if they went to the teacher training with consultants Fisher and Frey, part of Corwin. 13 new assistant principals . We don't need more adminastrators. We need reading interventionists, the science of reading, teacher training in the science of reading and reduced class sizes. All students have a right to a free and appropriate education. But in our district only those with means succeed. Look at the scores of the subgroups, english language learners, students with differences , foster youth and those with socioeconomic hardship. These are the bulk of the students we have. We need to teach to them in the way they learn best and follow science. So much wasted funds that never make it to the most vulnerable students. To me it's a human rights violation.

lovesbalot Oct 12, 2021 12:17 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

The district also spends a lot on attorneys fees. Parents of means sue the district to get services for their struggling student. And then are forced to non disclosure agreements so they are not allowed to tell the public. A much better model and what the law intends is to give students what they need in their IEP. Individual Education Plan. No attorney's needed. No agreements made in secret. Look at the beginning of every board meeting . There are typically several special ed cases. Why not do it right in the first place so parents don't have to fight the district. And the district won't spend so much on attorneys. This extra could go along way to reducing class sizes. Why don't we put our students needs first and do it with some enthusiasm. Do early intervention and automatic testing.

salsipuedes Oct 12, 2021 01:54 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

The school board bears some responsibility for this district failure to teach reading. They should require the Superintendent to make the case for keeping Lucy Calkins and why she's so committed to this awful approach to reading instruction that is causing so many students to struggle. Not just here, everywhere.

Byzantium Oct 12, 2021 05:03 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Voters bear responsibility for the school board members - at each election is a chance to change the direction of SBUSD - in areas where their own hands are not tied by the also elected State Superintendent of Schools, also an elected position - good candidates have been turned down by voters in the past - particularly the last two elections when we could have had Marshall Tuck running things - who had critical endorsements up and down the state and a proven track record in education innovation. Yet, he was beat out (narrowly) by the entrenched special interests. Voters can matter, but so far they continue to drop the ball and go with the status quo. Need to figure out why voting for continued failure makes sense when they get 50% of the state revenues guaranteed under Prop 98.

DUE DILIGENCE Oct 12, 2021 04:56 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

We all know that smaller class sizes, an emphasis on phonics, one-on-one intervention, and dyslexia screening work. So why do not any of the SBUSD Leadership, including the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, school board members, and teachers, try to address this? Fundraising to teach reading to Santa Barbara students makes no sense unless they plan to do the above and aim to have every SB student reading by first grade. Fundraising to do more of the same is the definition of insanity.

lovesbalot Oct 12, 2021 06:11 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Thank you Due Dilingence and Basic... I so agree with your thoughts. We don't have to wait to vote in a new board... we can do what parents in Minneapolis are doing.. protesting and demanding the district use the science of reading, automatic testing, teacher training in evidenced based science of reading and yes getting rid of,,, saying goodbye.. adios to Lucy Calkins Balanced literacy. States like Missisippi and Colorado have banned its use. Please copy this link to an inspiring article about parents in Minneapolis just a couple weeks ago. We have to demand change and educate the public to get enough people protesting so that there is a tipping point. Read on:

PitMix Oct 13, 2021 12:59 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

That's great that so many educational experts are available on edhat to help struggling students. Not.

Let me clarify, if you are not reading by the time you get to school, don't expect the school to solve your family problems for you. My parents read to us every night before bedtime and we couldn't wait to read on our own. We had basic reading skills before we ever went to kindergarten. It's the number one thing you can do to ensure your kid will be a good student. If you are not doing this, you are abandoning your kid to the tender mercies of factory education.....

lovesbalot Oct 13, 2021 04:22 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Pitmix: Glad you had a wonderful experience with parents reading to you every night. I am dyslexic and so is my son. Reading is not a natural thing like speaking. 20% of population has dyslexia .
The word dyslexia is made up of two different parts: dys meaning not or difficult, and lexia meaning words, reading, or language. ... It is neurobiological in origin, meaning that the problem is located physically in the brain. Many english language learners also struggle with literacy because english is difficult and has lots of exceptions. Dyslexics have strengths and are usually more right brain and need an explicit approach to learn to read. This is not a parenting problem or one of not being read to. It is about getting the supports and helping to learn how to decode. Reading to your child is great as it develops a good association with reading and a good preview. Dyslexics and those struggling with literacy need interventions and an explicit approach not what is currently being taught in most public schools. Don't blame the parents of the struggling students. Look at the data. Dyslexics and english language learners succeed when they get timely interventions and supports and resources. Montecito Union has great scores even their english language learners but they also get 32,000. per student. Google Emily Hanford, an investigative reporter who has researched this. Or Google Cheri Rae locally who has written many articles with research links so you can see the data and understand the struggle and the what's needed to turn it around.

PitMix Oct 13, 2021 04:26 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

So 20% of students will need special help beyond phonics or other reading strategies? That leaves 80% who should be reading when they go to school. This article says that only 32% of 4th graders are reading proficiently. That means 50% are not being parented adequately, and to expect schools to overcome that deficiency seems unrealistic to me.

lovesbalot Oct 13, 2021 04:48 PM
Santa Barbara Education Foundation Raises Over $60,000 for Student Literacy

Pitmix: 20% dyslexic but english language learners, foster youth , those with socioeconomic hardship all need more supports because the method of teaching that is currently used only works for a small minority of students, students with parents of means who get outside tutors to help make up the difference. Most students do not learn in the way public schools teach it. Look up balanced literacy... it does not work for the majority of students. Also poverty does not help. Santa Barbara County has the second highest child poverty rate. Poverty and a poor approach, balanced literacy is the key culprit. Many parents do not understand how hard it is for their student to learn with this failed approach and blame the student. These students work hard but they need a different approach. Look up Emily Hanfords research and you will understand. Money and awareness and using the science of reading is what helps. Our public school system is still using an approach that does not work for most students. Sorry if this is hard for you to hear but it is the truth.... Google the truth about reading and Emily Hanford and you will see that this is the case. Even Lucy Calkins , balanced literacy's author admitted two years ago that it does not work for many , particularly english language learners and dyslexics.

Please Login or Register to comment on this.