SBCC Parent Child Workshops in Danger

Governor’s Budget Would Defund Them

Sunday, March 10, 2013
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When former SBCC president Andreea Serban threatened to reconfigure the Parent Child Workshops administered by the Continuing Education division, she incurred intense blowback that contributed to much of the recent turnover at SBCC — including that of her own job.

It was a tactical mistake that current President Lori Gaskin knew to avoid. Although most noncredit enrichment courses are being moved to the new self-sustaining, fee-based Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL), the workshops were to be the one exception that would continue to be subsidized by the state. Now, however, the state might strip funds for the workshops, which function as preschools during the day and parenting classes at night.

Gaskin mentioned that painful fact at Tuesday’s College Planning Council meeting. “My recommendation has always been to retain the Parent Child Workshops in our noncredit program,” Gaskin told The Santa Barbara Independent. “The governor came out in mid-January [with his proposed budget], and it broadsided me,” she said.

While the state has asked its community colleges to focus on “core instructional areas” the past few years, for the first time there is a proposal that actually removes funding for courses that are not “vocational education, English as a Second Language, elementary and secondary education, and citizenship,” reads the governor’s budget summary. “If community colleges offer non-mission courses, students will be required to pay the full cost of instruction,” it says.

That language may not survive when an actual budget is passed, but the college needs to be prepared for the worst. If the courses are moved to the CLL, their full cost would need to be covered by a fee, and Gaskin is not sure many parents could afford it.

There are four workshops throughout South Coast: San Marcos, Starr King, The Oaks, and Lou Grant. The SBCC student newspaper, The Channels, reported that the directors of each respectively make $79,666; $83,668; $64,134.40; and $79,668.

“We have to take a wait and see,” said Gaskin.

This story was amended on March 11, 2013 when the word "daycares" was changed to "preschools."


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Serban never threatened to pull funding for parent-child workshops as long as they met state approved curriculum guidelines. Check your facts. They are all in the public record.

Lies and hysteria about these programs were created by the parent-child crowd and their $100,000 a year Directors, but this should never become the basis of your opening paragraph. Ongoing lies and hysteria from this crowd is what Gaskin needs to also watch out for.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 10:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't forget to add $16,000 each in health and retirement benefits, plus full tenure job security given to these parent-child workshop directors, plus having all summer off when the workshops close down.

These are a very well paid group of ladies who work only two hours one evening a week and run a day care centers for three hours a morning four or five days a week with a lot of unpaid parent help.

This program does not belong at Santa Barbara City College.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 10:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Serban was right all along. The arrogance of the board of trustees cost the taxpayers money and SBCC some of it's excellent reputation. Gaskin is a good administrator, but firing Serban was costly and unnecessary.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 11:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How is daycare a workshop?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 12:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

foo--I changed the lead a bit. I concede it was an overstatement.

brandon (Brandon Fastman)
March 10, 2013 at 2:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think this is a bit hysterical. Why should SBCC fund parent-children workshops/classes/care anyway? Most parents foot the bill themselves.

And what role did the board of trustees play in this? And since Serban did not threaten to pull funding, how could that be the reason for her firing?

tabatha (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 4:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A child/daycare center is a great thing while the parent is in class or related acaedmic activity. Why it's called a "workshop" is just plain WEIRD and a redflag of disconnect.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 5:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The relationship between SBCC and these four workshops amounts to a public-private contract. SBCC uses tax dollars that in turn subsidize four private day-care enterprises.

One must ask by what process did only four private day-care centers get exclusive access to this public largesse?

While these are public-private contracts, there is no bidding, no enforceable guidelines, no accounting for results, no competition, no direct oversight, and no process by which for other day care centers can enjoy these same sweetheart deals Starr-King, Lou Grant, The Oaks and San Marcos have extracted from the public for so long.

Time for SBCC to independently audit these programs to see if our tax dollars have been being wisely, or even fairly spent related to their mission as an institution of higher education.

Providing wealthy Montecito parents a few days respite from their child-raising duties serves no higher-education purpose I can see.

If SBCC refuses to do this independent investigation, let the County Grand Jury do it for them. Only then can we be assured our tax dollars have not been misused granting unfair privileges to only an exclusive few.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 5:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Lou Grant Daycare? Surely you jest..? Check the teacher's desk for whiskey!

It seems to me daycare would more efficiently be on campus for all parties involved. Parent drops off kid and walks over to class... classes end, parent walks over and picks up kid. What could be more simple instead than the huge bureaucracy of indie (private) contractors etc.

They call some of those on the board liberal, that is a real joke.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 5:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

KV: You're reading a bit too much into a single word. They've been called "workshops" for as long as I can remember, perhaps to differentiate from actual classes. Parents who participate are quasi-students of SBCC.
This debate, and its many attendant issues, those mostly regarding the program directors' salaries, has been sort of raging for a few days on Edhat, the debate unfortunately marred by some over-"participation" by a former SBCC-affiliate and at least one obviously _very_ disgruntled parent with various political and personal axes to grind respectively, but, nevertheless, it's worth checking out the thread there.

zappa (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 5:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Cutting childcare for students while they're engaged academically is a huge mistake. Why child care is off campus needs explanation. Ventura College has it's daycare on campus. Why? Because it makes sense!
Thanks Zappa, i shall hunt down that thread.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 10:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Then raise tuition then if you want these Cadillac fringe benefits. The education at SBCC is almost free for residents. If you want to encumber one set of students to pay for the childcare of others, maybe give them the choice. Keep tuition low or offer child care, their choice.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 11:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's only a "Cadillac fringe benefit" because the Republicans sabotaged the education system in this state, which was once top in the nation. Not that Dem "leadership" is without guilt as well but at least their mistakes have been on the side of public education, not destroying it.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 12:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The state should de-fund this. Colleges should focus on their "core instructional areas". The state needs to get away from these giveaways.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 4:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

These workshops are not for low income parents or students. They do not "function as day cares during the day and parenting classes at night." They are attended by upper middle class and above parents - many of whom are older and very well established. They operate for 3 hours a day 2-4 days a week depending on the childs age and parental preference. Given the MINIMAL duties of the director as well as a continuous stream of contorversy and problems emanating from the "workshops" (esp the Oaks) SBCC would be making a smart and rational decision if they were to cut director salaries or significantly cut ties with the workshops. They have their positive aspects when the children are the focus - which they are often NOT at least at the Oaks - and should continue if possible however not at SBCC and taxpayer expense. The well - to -do parents can very easily manage to take over financial responsibility from SBCC. This has been brewing for quite some time now - hopefully the college will not cave to a small interest group due to Marty Blum's presence on the board and her manipulation of reality. I hope the new president does not get smeared by Blum as the last pres of SBCC did as Blum is vicious and relentless - her dumb act is just that - an act. It is simply a matter of dollars and cents/sense - the co-ops do not need SBCC to pay inflated salaries of inept (some - not all) directors who do little to no work and are a liability to the college due to their irresponsible actions.

mimi225 (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 8:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Calling these tax-payer subsidized yuppie parent co-ops "workshops" made them sound more like they were actually doing something productive, rather than getting the taxpayers to subsidize day-care for the privileged few.

Be sure to read the parents comments on the current edhat thread linking this discussion to The Channels article that started this expose - hair-curling stories from the front lines that do not square with the warm and fuzzy public image that has been used to keep public tax dollars flowing into these parent-kiddie boot camps.

Tiger Moms need not apply, unless they want their kids taught musical chairs have no losers, boys are forced to play with dolls, toddlers encouraged to bust their parents if they don't recycle and the parents are required buy their pre-approved organic kiddie snacks from only a few pre-approved providers.

Fine to be this draconian if this were truly a private-choice day care center, but these are your tax dollars subsidizing this institutional eco-authoritarianism.

If you still wonder how much political bias has taken over public education, look no further than this SBCC program that gets them young and gets them early.

Anyone willing to look into possible collusion or kick-backs in this sweet-heart deal that bans raisins, carrots and peanut butter, but gives the officially sanctioned nod to only a few mandated favored snack purveyors?

Something has gone very wrong with these programs. SBCC needs to remove what is left of their good their name and tax payers need to stop subsidizing them. ASAP.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 9:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken, Parent-Child Workshops do not provide day care for SBCC students. Don't mix Ventura apples with SBCC oranges. SBCC does have an Early Childhood Education center which is part of their credit academic program offerings that makes day care available for students and staff.

The non-credit (Adult Ed) Parent Child Workshops are an entirely different animal - they provide subsidized day care for a few yuppie parents who rarely if ever also attend SBCC credit classes. There is no needs-based qualification for Parent-Child Workshop enrollment, In fact, low-income parents need not even bother to apply, if you look at their current "student" demographics and enrollment requirements.

This is primarily a social organization for a privileged few that has jealously controlled the enrollment roster for too long, so that the very same families and generations of the same families get a tax payer-funded benefit benefit that is not available to the wider community SBCC is intended to serve.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 9:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Right on, foofighter.

And to the poster above, Zappa I believe, why is telling the truth, considered an act of the "disgruntled" as you put it?

Typical co-op (oaks) attitude - create crisises where there are none to validate your pay/position, lie if you must and independent thinkers need not apply.

But keep the negatives quiet.

Just wait until ALL of the stories start emerging.

Again, this is not child care for students in class. It is an entirely different animal.

The co-ops should be independently funded and if not some SERIOUS accountabilty needs to be imposed as children are suffering due to irresponsible "leadership."

Some Grand Jury attention is not a bad idea.

mimi225 (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken, how did Republicans destroy education in this state?

The Democrats and the California Teachers Association have had public schools in their iron-grips now for decades. Last statewide K-12 school superintendents have all been union card-carrying Democrats.

K-12 budgets are dependent upon the the health of the state economy, since they are guaranteed 50% of all state revenues. The heavily Democratic CTA was the one who refused to reform education that prevented the state from getting more federal monies for our K-12 education.

Maybe you are confusing all the economy-killing legislation the Democrats have foisted on this state over these past few decades that has reduced this automatic 50% of state tax revenues to the level it is today with something else? Please explain.

Every dollar spent giving subsidized day care to yuppie families is one less dollar spent helping kids get through college. And so far there is no proof any of the pre-school programs are paying off in better college prep for these pre-school students later on in life.

Facts are facts.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 10:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good lord, it's the same angry (and disgruntled) parent and former SBCC administrator posting the same angry screeds as on the Edhat thread a few days ago. I agree with one thing: the directors' salaries, if correct as reported, are out of whack.
However, the angry and inaccurate accusations are equally over the top here. Obviously, there are a few people with "issues," seemingly with one of the PCWs and its director in particular. My kids' preschool days are long over, but the one in which we were involved, not the Oaks, had a diverse group of mostly middle class/working parents, we paid fees and tuition, and we put in a lot of parent-volunteer time. It's pretty easy to discern a personal agenda in some of the comments and attacks above not related to the real issues at hand regarding funding and finance.

zappa (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 11:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No I mean Republican attempts to mess with curriculum and cut funding.And if your knee hadn't jerked in front of your screen you'd have seen where I wrote the dems weren't blameless either.
Facts are facts and both parties are GUILTY.
And exactly what "economy killing legislation"? Name one law? I'm sure at least one must be out there but the Republican rhetoric of "job killing legislation" doesn't fly when after ten years you still can't name a single law that shouyld be repealed and indeed support the laws that help the big corporations and crush small businesses. That's contemporary Republican economy policy and that's one of the reasons why the GOP is as good as extinct.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 1:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And now I see that Fx2 mentions enrollment rosters and their real beef becomes apparent: too stupid to be accepted.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 1:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Disappointing discussion!

I have a bias. My daughters both participated at Starr King and Sarah Foot was the Director. Those girls valued their experience, learned a lot about stuff that pre-K kids should learn, and we -- the parents -- learned a lot about pre-K kids and child development. Our weekly class sessions as parents were full of important concepts and our participation in the daily activity at the Workshop were among the most valuable in our child-rearing experience.

The only expense of the SBCC that I remember was the cost of the director and the associate director. Their work was not only for the half-day sessions but for organizing the curriculum and the programs. They had to be certificated.

Whether it is appropriate with the newer guidelines, I don't know; but it surely was important and educational for our whole family.

maven12 (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 2:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

agree with maven12...Starr King is truly a wonderful outfit, good diversity among the kids...maybe the directors are overpaid (dunno about that), but it's not full of Montecito parents and kids! I've agreed with Botany before on the Serban debacle, and s/he may be right it's time to defund these workshops from SBCC and state funding.
foofighter, to some degree Republicans have destroyed education in this state by refusing to fund schools more intelligently and with more $. Even with Prop 30 (passed over loud Republican howling) only lifts us up to somewhere around $9000 @ child @ year, versus say New York State's $19,000 @ child.
Yes, I agree the funding formula is skewed, and Brown is trying to change that formula to help schools like Harding and McKinley and Franklin...somehow students at MUS and Cold Spring get about $18,000 per year per kid...why aren't we yowling about that?!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 2:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@maven12, zappa and DrDan (hey, teach!) Thank you so much for your comments as I was also dismayed at many of the comments here. My children (and I) went to the Oaks and the bonds that I and my children formed there with the other parents and their children endure to this day. This is not a daycare program and requires quite a bit more participation from the parents than nearly any other preschool program of which I know. It is a program underpinned by dedication to the children and where every parent plays an active, participatory role in their -and the other- children's upbringing. Moreover, I would stand 100% behind the Oaks' former director M- S- and her assistant. Their kindness and dedication make me proud to have been part of that experience. There is a good reason why the wait list is 2 years long there. It is a lot of work but it is a lot of learning, too. These programs are special and a vital part of Santa Barbara's all-too-rapidly dwindling community.

jjfischer (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 6:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Finally an explanation of "workshop", thank you jjfischer.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 7:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, the Oaks former director M.S. was wonderful as is the current asst director who worked tirelessly with M.S. and continues to do so for the current "director." My children and I created wonderful bonds at the Oaks, as well, which we still maintain to this day. Unfortunately M.S. stepped down after 25 plus years at the helm.

The current director is very different and problematic. It is sad to see a wonderful institution decline due to questionable "leadership."

One poster recommended looking at the EdHat discussion which is still accessible through its archives. There are a wide variety of views expressed there regarding the workshops. While individuals may be "upset" by the truth that is reported about the Oaks I have yet to see anyone dispute it.

BTW what constites a "dissapointing discussion" as noted by a poster above? One that voices differing opinions from your own? Public discourse and debate has a positive effect on one's community. Those who wish to silence others should review the First ammendment.

mimi225 (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 9:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Stay focused on the issue: SBCC tax dollars have provided full time, tenured SBCC professors to teach non-credit parenting classes to primarily a very self-selected and small group of self-perpetuating parents.

Why should this unfairness continue when it benefits only four SBCC professors who teach only one two-hour non-credit class and supervise a daily 3 hour non-credit lab time where unpaid parent volunteers do the actual work.

SBCC's current obligation to these private parent-child workshops is to provide only tax-payer funded instruction time and nothing else. Anything else required by the private parent-child workshops must be provided by their own funding sources.

This is where the lines got very murky in the past until the state stepped in and claimed tax dollars were being misused providing public benefits to these independently-run private workshops. The demand to clean this up lead to the ferocious political backlash which curiously continues today.

Let's get back to the real issues at hand: Why should only a few self-selected parents and generations of their offspring continue to take advantage of this privileged tax-subsidized child care program, that is closed off to the vast majority of the SBCC districts residents?

Attacking the inequities of this program is not attacking whether the few parents who benefited did in fact enjoy participating in this public-private windfall. Why wouldn't they, if this is their taste in child-rearing philosophy? But should their demands to maintain this inequitable and tax-payer subsidized program be the deciding factor. No.

SBCC is adrift on this issue and needs to come clean before even more time, money and good will is lost. And the current highly-paid Parent-Child directors who are guilty, need to stop spreading lies about what is really going on.

This is a privileged tax supported public-private partnership benefiting only a few in our community and this inequity needs to stop. SBCC is best served severing this unfair relationship as soon as possible.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You are absolutely right, foo fighter.

Even though there are benefits to the workshops, which we all concede, it is a policy decision that SBCC should not be intimidated by and back down from this time - despite Marty's behind the scenes (possibly illegal) shenanigans.

Participating parents should pay for the "workshops" to continue. They are well able to bear the cost if they value their director and assistant directors as they claim.

The prior director did make 115k - btw. Even though she was a "better" director than the current, it was still far too much for what her job entailed, especially in the waning years before she retired.

Well written and succinctly stated post, foo.

mimi225 (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 12:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

P.S. - there is nowhere near a two year waiting list at the school we attended and you refer to jj. In the past 2 years the attrition rate has been shockingly rapid. We were losing families every other week - literally. In fact, we didn't even have enough parents to populate the "committees."

Sadly many of the first to go, were in fact the very few "token" (sorry don't like tt word but using for lack a better) lower income families that did sneak in after strict evaluation by "herr director."

They would be very quickly identified and ostracized by other parents. This is the precise demographic the workshop preaches they cater to. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What was happening was obvious and sad and no one talked about it.

mimi225 (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 12:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The issues you raise mimi225 underscore why this program needs an independent investigation first, if SBCC plans to over-turn the present termination agreement intended to end this relationship on June 30, 2013.

Lots of unnecessary sound and fury going on right now for a decision that has already been reached: SBCC will no longer provide instructors and all four Parent-Child Workshops agreed to go it alone after June 2013.

Not sure why this is even being discussed when the ink is dry on that agreement. The recent past history and dark controversies should make SBCC very wary about doing business with these private enterprises again.

Admittedly, this is an ignoble ending to a long-standing popular public-private partnership, but unfortunately this relationship ran afoul these past few years. Greed overtook gratitude. Wish them well on their own, but It is time for SBCC to move on. This relationship no longer works.

There remain parents who value the parent-child co-op model since it offers both lower child care costs using volunteer adults, while providing parents free time from their own parenting obligations. Nothing wrong with that.

However, it always seemed odd these mutual benefit co-ops became tax-payer subsidized under the heading of parent-education classes. The parent-child co-op model by its own definition means a parent spends more time supervising other people's children, rather than their own.

SBCC should appreciate they can now exit from these flawed programs, instead of thinking about reviving them. SBCC needs recommit to its primary task which is to offer as many college level classes and credit student support services as its budget can support.

SBCC needs to stay out of the subsidized private child-care business, unless they can show a direct benefit to their own employees and/or credit students.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 4:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Foo and Mim: Maybe you two should go out for coffee or something and discuss your common disgruntlement and mutual admiration for one another. You're embarrassing yourselves with your very evident personal agenda(s).

zappa (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 6:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Zappa - wouldn't usually lower myself to respond to such an odd and strangely ?/bizarre/immature/unbalanced? comment but please take care. I think I know who you might be so I am compassionate to your plight.

Perhaps a nerve has been hit?. Take care -- you've acheived your goal in muffling free speech and concern for children as I am signing out. This "discussion" has taken a strange turn for the worst thanks to you.

Please feel free to express yourself as you deem necessary-if you need to continue with personal insults that is your perogative. Just trying to spread the truth in the best interest of the community and in the best interest of our children - most importantly. Peace :-)

BTW - it's not just me and foofighter. I have no idea who FF is. Check things out and educate yourself. Best!

mimi225 (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 7:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"I think I know who you might be so I am compassionate to your plight." (mimi225)
Your rather transparent paranoia proves my point.
Thanks for "lowering" yourself to reply.
No, you have no idea who I am nor do I know you, other than what I can discern through your rather over-the-top postings here and on Edhat.

I have never had any connection to the Oaks. My oldest kid is now in high school, but you won't believe that of course. "Peace," indeed, and cue that woman from the Simpsons bursting into the meeting to yell: "But what about the children?"

zappa (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2013 at 7:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

* Ooops. That should be _youngest_ kid in HS.
Diluting my own point there.

zappa (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2013 at 7:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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