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

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


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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Great questions Due, I agree. The School Board has been elected by the voters of SB, so the voters are responsible for whom they chose. Take a look in the mirror folks! Let’s change this train wreck next time we have a chance…do it for the kids.

  4. 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:

  5. 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.

  6. 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.”

  7. 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.

  8. 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…..

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