<b>CAUTIOUS BUT HOPEFUL:</b>  School District Boardmember Ed Heron said he’d like to see the Charter School renewed as long as administrators address a number of concerns voiced by district staff.

Peter Vandenbelt

CAUTIOUS BUT HOPEFUL: School District Boardmember Ed Heron said he’d like to see the Charter School renewed as long as administrators address a number of concerns voiced by district staff.

Mixed Report Card

Racial and Fiscal Concerns Emerge at S.B. Charter School

Thursday, October 24, 2013
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Tensions ran noticeably deep for the second time this month at the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s board meeting Tuesday evening. Deliberations over the district’s upcoming decision whether or not to grant a renewal for Santa Barbara Charter School (SBCS) rallied dozens of parents and faculty from the petite K-6 school located on the Goleta Valley Junior High School campus.

Facing an arguably unforgiving staff report ​— ​which recommended boardmembers approve the charter but with certain conditions ​— ​Charter School administrators and parents challenged the district’s findings that the school’s education program and financial projections are “unsound” and “[do] not meet the likelihood for future success.”

The report’s critical language reflects state education code, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Emilio Handall explained to a wary crowd. Handall wrote the report and told audience members ​— ​many wearing bright green buttons that said “Ask Me About Santa Barbara Charter School” ​— ​that the process is required by state law.

Directives for Charter School presented by district staff included the following: creating fiscal projection, Professional Learning, and Common Core State Standards transition plans; coming up with descriptions of how to accommodate students at varying achievement levels; and taking action to better balance the school’s racial composition. The school’s Director of Operations Dave Weisman said the renewal process has been “about as different as we could have imagined” from past years, claiming the district’s report uses selective data to misrepresent the school as a whole and reaches “erroneous conclusions.” He said he wanted the district to grant the charter without the conditions.

Debate about the school’s overwhelmingly white campus and low test scores consumed much of the meeting’s public comment portion and subsequent input from trustees. Several concerned parents ​— ​a few mentioned their Hispanic background ​— ​took to the podium to commend Charter School administrators, who also tag-team as part-time teachers, for their dedication to a “holistic education” and using outside-the-box instructional methods with certain students.

Boardmembers acknowledged overwhelming praise from parents in person and via numerous emails, but they also pointed to the fact that the school’s ethnic and racial makeup is close to a mirror opposite of K-6 students in the rest of the district. The report found 18 percent of Charter School students ​— ​234 students are currently enrolled ​— ​are Hispanic, while in the entire district roughly 70 percent of elementary school students are Hispanic.

The report calls for a 10 percent growth of Latino students enrolled each year for the next five years, which equates to 27.9 percent of Latino students enrolled by the 2018-2019 school year. In response to recent emails she had received, Board President Monique Limón said, “I’m not clear on why having two or eight more Latino students in a school is so upsetting to families.” After several crowd members vocally opposed the claim, she clarified, “Not all families.”

Charter School attorney Jennifer McQuarrie ​— ​who joined Weisman and Director of Education Bev Abrams at the podium ​— ​later noted that the district’s requirement of a certain racial makeup at the school could be interpreted as an illegal quota system. Boardmember Ed Heron also expressed concern about the report’s demographic target, because although the school’s racial composition should seek to match that of the district’s, he said new students, who get in via a lottery system, are admitted on a “pure gamble.”

In terms of test scores, while comparing Charter School to three other traditional schools ​— ​which had similar demographics where white students are the majority group ​— ​the report indicated Monroe, Roosevelt, and Washington students outperformed Charter School students by 67-87 points on Academic Performance Index (API) tests. Weisman countered that the school’s score of 844 is well above the benchmark for an academically sound program and has improved by 47 points in the past two years.

Analysis of test scores found that all of three of the aforementioned schools outperformed Charter School in English/language arts and in math. For English/language arts, 76.3 percent of Charter School students passed the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) test, while between 86.4 and 90.2 percent of students at Monroe, Roosevelt, and Washington passed. In math, 70.1 percent of Charter School students passed compared to 89.9 and 91.3 percent at the other schools.

Limón continued to emphasize that the charter renewal process is not intended to be an “I gotcha,” but an opportunity to look for ways to improve the school while respecting its independent governance model. In concluding comments, Weisman said: “When we read [the report], it felt like an ‘I gotcha’ moment.”

Described as “difficult” but a step toward “moving forward” by the end of the two-hour discussion, Tuesday’s meeting marks the fourth time the 20-year-old-school has endured the renewal process. Within the next few weeks, Charter School administration is expected to address the conditions outlined by the district, and the boardmembers will conclude with a verdict on November 12.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Monique Limon is the most racist and offensive school board member in the history of the board. To suggest that SB Charter school families are against Latino student growth at the school is so outrageous it can only be explained as the result of a personality (Limon) that is deeply racist and hostile toward non Latino's.

She has no evidence for her accusation.

She should be recalled or at least shouted down for hostile and offensive statements. Good grief. How can such a person be on our school board?

willy88 (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 4:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Teach the kids, lose the politics.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 4:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

WilleyBB. Your comments are the ones that are outrageous. I'm happy to discuss the issue with anyone. Just call 6877639. Ed Heron. School Board Trustee. .

EdHeron (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 5:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

the STAR test scores for Monroe, Roosevelt, and Washington are wonderfully high, almost up there with MUS's and Cold Springs' [out-of-SB-District, I know], so it seems unfair to compare the Charter School's STAR scores in math and English with these three.
Ed Heron's statement makes little sense, re the lottery, because if the students in the lottery reflect SB, then that's over 50% Latino, so these percentages will take care of themselves.
In her latest, book, Diane Ravitch takes aim at charter schools, and demonstrates the students in them don't outperform the regular public school students. In REIGN OF ERROR Ravitch reserves praise for public-type charter schools, like SB Charter, while heavily criticizing private for-profit charters (e.g. Green Dot schools).
SB Charter absolutely must be renewed, it's a great school, and like the District report will ask them, they should incrementally add in more Hispanic/Latino students in order to at least somewhat resemble our SB community.
In this article, I couldn't follow Limon's quoted comment, so I don't quite follow the reasoning behind your comment, Willy88.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 5:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

These dry multiple-choice tests are the politically correct way to judge student learning, created by politicians and PhD Ivory tower professors. Intelligence seems to have been left out of the process for measuring student learning.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 8:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

right, Georgy, and wait til we get the Common Core garbage, and it requires even more if different "standardized tests" -- the ultimate beneficiary is Apple Corp and for-profit companies like ETS which run these expensive, time-consuming "tests" which don't measure very much. But see, they give certain politicians and Calif. Legislature "covering support" for the expenditure of tax monies... forget the iPads and so much testing, hire more young vibrant teachers and reduce class size. This would help.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 9:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How many of these SB Charter School parents were SBCC Parent-Child Workshop parents at one time? Sounds similar; racially-biased and under-performing, while claiming to be virtuous and holistic.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 10:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr Dan while we are discussing your favorite topic, be sure to read today's WSJ article "Why Teacher Colleges Get a Flunking Grade". (10/24/13)

Proof is mounting far more than the National Council on Teacher Quality report you keep trying to discredit, that indeed teacher education is in need of serious reform if we are to see any improvements in the classroom.

Nice concise article, with multiple links that builds this critical case with multiple corroboration, which has been ongoing since 2006. Today is 2013. How many more years will the teachers unions continue to deny the obvious?

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 10:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear Santa Barbara Independent,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on all stories, but particularly those that involve and impact Santa Barbara Charter School. We are frankly horrified that this racism discussion and personal attacks are in any way associated with our school. The fact is that while we disagree with parts of the “Staff Report” and “Staff Recommendation” submitted to the Board agenda on October 22, we have nothing but respect and appreciation for all of the SB School Board members – ALL BOARD MEMBERS. We are pleased and excited with the receptivity that the Board and the District have shown to reach common ground for this renewal process.

The fact is that we absolutely share the goal that the district has voiced that our school demographics more closely match those of the District. We feel confident that we can arrive at a process to reach that goal. We simply want the Santa Barbara Charter School to be a welcoming place for all students and families who choose to use it. We don’t think that our District or the Board wants anything different.

The roles of charter schools and their sponsoring districts call for this type monitoring and negotiation. We highly prize our little school that has survived and thrived despite many obstacles. We hope that the community can remember that it is because our District and our school have had a positive and collaborative relationship through the years that this is so. We both cherish and want to sustain that relationship.

Thanks for Listening,

Dave Weisman – Director of Operations
Santa Barbara Charter School

davesbcharter (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 12:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Best of luck to SB Charter. It is a great school and is an asset to the community in that it provides a choice to parents looking for an alternative education in Santa Barbara.

Even with the best intentions to increase diversity, they are at a disadvantage since they are located in Goleta off Fairview and are supposed to match the diversity of a district that they technically don't reside in. It sounds like Charter is on board to do all the right things to increase diversity. It would be a shame to put hard numbers down as a condition of the charter renewal though, because in the end, it is a lottery. A very popular lottery with a wait list at that.

As far as testing goes, this is a very small school compared to others like Roosevelt and Washington. They have over 600 students and SB Charter has 200. Considering that there are many parents at this school that pull their kids from testing, that has to be taken into account when looking at the statistics.

I hope that their Charter is renewed without too many conditions that would drastically change all the things that make that school so great.

goleta707 (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 12:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

SB Charter is a great school with steadily improving test scores and a committed and involved parent body and teaching staff. If you look at the other public schools of choice available; SB Community Academy and OAS then SB Charter is a complete success story. I think it will reflect very well on the SB School District if schools of all types and all sizes are welcomed and encouraged.

sb101 (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 7:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 8:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Public schools today are what reform schools were of yesteryear.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 8:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

At Dr Dan - Please be careful equating young with vibrant - I've been teaching for over 30 years and I'm still young and vibrant. I give some of those youngsters (and I mean the "young" teachers") a run for their money...daily. My experience also makes for a nice combination. I absolutely love, love, love my job!

sharpen123 (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 8:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This may not make a difference now, but before it is too late I would like to give you a perspective from somebody who has been through SB Charter school. I am 14 and currently attending DP High school. I went to SB Charter school for almost 4 1/2 years, and loved every minute of it. All I can say is that it definitely helped me socially and academically. As of right now, I am in the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy; have straight A's, and taking all the possible Honor role classes. I can truthfully say the same for 4 other of my friends who came from SB Charter. It will be a sad day if charter closes down, it is truly a wonderful school with excellent teachers.

sbzach1717 (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 9:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

sbzach, understanding that the exception does not make the rule as in your case, why do you think so many of your other classmates are performing so badly at SB Charter that keeps its overall scores so dismally low?

I like charter schools in principal, but I don't like any underperforming school, regardless of the occasional bright spot as yourself.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 10:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The charge of racial bias is difficult to justify. Being a charter school, parents have to *actively choose* to apply to the school, so it's almost inevitable that the makeup of the student body is going to differ from neighborhood schools in the district. And unless one is claiming that it's rigged, the lottery ensures that no bias affects which children are accepted. The school can and should make a good-faith outreach to *all* of the community, but ultimately the school is not responsible for the free choices of parents.

Secundus (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 11:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

hey hey, sharpen 123, I completely agree with you, especially since I began teaching in 1973, meaning 40 years! And heck yes, I also still feel sharp and am committed working with wonderful adolescent students. Better phrasing on my part would have stated that a lot of these aging [but still very capable!!] baby boomer teachers will soon be retiring [or falling apart]. One stat has it that we will need 4 million new teachers in the next 10 years. Thus, we absolutely need many more teachers, and of course not only young ones, there are a lot of vibrant older folks who have moved over into teaching in their 30s and 40s and they bring a lot with their extra experience.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 11:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Many respectable sources have heavily criticized the very political NCTQ findings as bogus, foo, and you can look at earlier posts when we wrangled on this to see those refs.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 11:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

read the article more carefully, foo: SB Charter students score pretty well, over 800 on the API. "...the school’s score of 844 is well above the benchmark for an academically sound program and has improved by 47 points in the past two years."
Further, a different type of testing comes with Common Core Standards next year so at the very least the Board should give SB Charter more years in order to see how these newer tests reflect learning at the school.
A related issue for me is that these standardized test scores measure very little, are a mere snapshot in one day of the life of a student, fail to measure all sorts of incredibly important qualities like CREATIVITY, COURAGE, ARTISTIC ABILITY, SOCIAL SKILLS, CHARACTER AND ETHICS, MUSICAL ABILITY, CRITICAL PROBLEM SOLVING... it goes on and on. Look at Finland, they test their students this way ONCE: at end of high school. They don't waste a lot of class time with continuous assessments because they believe in their teacher, and yes, they train them very effectively and then pay them a professional wage.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 11:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear Mr. Heron and Mr. Weisman

It may be time for both of you to brush on on your Orwell and focus on the parts about DoubleSpeak.

How can this comment:
"Board President Monique Limón said, “I’m not clear on why having two or eight more Latino students in a school is so upsetting to [some] families.”

Not be construed as racist, race-based, an accusations of non-Latino's families being racist?

How is that OK with each of you? Why are you willing to accept this comment, apologize for it, praise the person that said it and then call the reaction of readers against this racially insensitive, racial allegation against parents "outrageous" or that you are horrified by someone pointing it out?

You are truly, deeply embedded in your own world of Political Correctness, face-saving, smoothing over and looking the other way - but only if a Latino woman makes such a distasteful and unacceptable statement.

You should both be ashamed of yourselves. And to think children's lives are being managed in part by your actions - and these actions. Shameful.

willy88 (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 4:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If out state funded parent-child workshops in this town are not turning out racially diverse parents who would be later active in charter schools, then one needs to look at their recruitment policies as well as their stated goals.

Why aren't the local parent-chlld workshops reaching out to more minority parents, who in turn work with their children all the way through the K-12 system?

Time to change business as usual at the parent-child workshop level if you want more diversity in the later charter schools. The potential is there.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 26, 2013 at 3:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

1) I was saddened to read DrDan's comment that "Intelligence seems to have been left out of the process for measuring student learning." Are the schools with a larger population of Latinos getting lower test scores because the children lack intelligence? There are so many factors that come into play. How offensive to say that children that may be having difficulties because of language/cultural barriers (or lack of support within their home) lack in intelligence! As a Hispanic parent of an American-born six-year-old at Santa Barbara Charter School, I can honestly say that it's because of mind-frames such as DrDan's that my husband and I CHOSE to enroll our daughter at a Charter School in hopes of 'winning the lottery.' 2) That's the experience we had when we received a phone call telling us our child had been accepted! The hope that our child's academic future would not be projected by school administrators based on her last name and dark skin tone! 3) I don't want to sound "racist" in any way, but I believe that, since one of the purposes of Charter schools is to provide under-served students (not to be mistaken with the word un-deserved) with the opportunity to thrive at a high level, the current parents at SBCS welcome diversity! As a volunteer parent at SBCS, I am more than willing to help in reaching Spanish-only speaking parents through local TV and radio stations. I would be willing to set up ride-sharing for the children that live in Santa Barbara and even drive parents without vehicles to school events and parent-teacher conferences. You cannot force parents to be participants in their children’s education, but in a largely Caucasian populated school, I can say for sure that most - if not all - SBCS parents would be willing to help in this respect. Teachers as well as parents want our children to experience association with students of diverse backgrounds. 4) Ms. Limón’s concerns have nothing to do with racism just as the Board’s requests are not meant to convey intellectual superiority - it's about giving disadvantaged children (regardless of race) an opportunity to reach their potential - one of the core purposes of Charter schools!

MyChildMyChoice (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 5:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@MyChildMyChoice, I certainly did NOT write the statement you attributed to me!
"Georgy" at 10/24 8:54 a.m. wrote "Intelligence seems to have been left out of the process for measuring student learning." -- please do NOT pawn that off on me, and please read more carefully. If you had, you would see that I think these standardized tests measure very little, and certainly not intelligence! Further, MyChild, "How offensive" -- as you wrote -- to accuse me of racial bias based on your own reading incapacity! Apology, eh?!
Finally, I am strongly in support of SB Charter School, as my above several posts indicate.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 7:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I stand corrected, DrDan. In several conversations with non-SBCS parents, the intent of your words was misunderstood by all of us. My apologies. I do want to stress 'though that students who don't necessarily do well on tests in elementary school need to hear that they are intelligent and can become academic achievers - even if they don't hear it from their own parents (regardless of race). The lack of support in any environment can pull you down even if you're a genius. There are many examples of Latinos with mainly Spanish spoken at home that have been inspired by someone outside their home (a teacher, a mentor, a school administrator) to continue their education. I see this at SBCS where I immediately felt part of a community. I grew up in a home with a lot of support. My challenge with the current education system was highlighted when in high school my counselor told me that I was more likely to become pregnant than graduate from high school, so why had I enrolled in college-prep classes? I proved her wrong, but her words affected me for a long time. I can't help but wonder how many children in the schools with low test scores believe they are undeserving? It actually brings a knot to my throat to think of it! It doesn't mean that I didn't have other teachers that believed in me. But that counselor certainly made me question myself. Maybe my story can help others see why I strongly believe in SBCS's philosophy and Charter schools' core purpose.

MyChildMyChoice (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 7:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The bottom line is that as long as American culture sets different standards for people according to their race, different results will happen according to those racial lines.

To Wit: Jaime Escalante. If you don't know who he was, google him.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 8:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr.Danforth: Did you not once post that YOU are well over the age of 65? If so, why would you, of all people, succumb the bigotry of ageism?
Clearly sir, you are old enough to be both my father AND my mother, but this doesn't mean you still cannot participate in the realm of academia.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 8:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I appreciate your comment and apology, MyChild, and perhaps the confusion, which I much regret, is that in my last 10/25 post here I was responding to foo's 10/24 post where he wrote about some students "performing so badly at SB Charter that keeps its overall scores so dismally low?" -- first, my response is that those scores are not so low really [over 800], and THEN that this absurd over-reliance on APIs, STARs, and later SATs etc etc. misses the point about educating young people! This does really matter because so much of today's public education is completely standards-based, and these "tests" fail to measure so very much in a developing child's mind [see list above: CREATIVITY, COURAGE, ARTISTIC ABILITY, SOCIAL SKILLS, CHARACTER AND ETHICS, MUSICAL ABILITY, CRITICAL PROBLEM SOLVING]. Foo understands very little about education, as his reliance on the heavily criticized & useless NCTQ "findings" shows; his real bete noir is hating taxes, teacher unions, and implicitly he is blaming the teachers.
I am all for SB Charter!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 29, 2013 at 4:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Only teachers impacted by their poor training have criticized the National Council of Teacher Training report showing the vast majority of teacher training programs are highly deficient. Only Dr Dan fervently tries to discredit the findings.

Teacher training need to change,and Wall Street Journal backs up this claim with even more studies showing the same thing.

Biggest problem is with tenure, it will be a long time before there is a sufficient turn-over of better trained teachers the longer this remedial task is delayed.

Children still caught in the middle of no reform and assimilating those with better training will continue to have to be taught twice and double the expense - once in K-12 where most fail and then later in remedial work to get to college level proficiencies after they become adults.

If SBCS is not performing or chronically under-performing, they are wasting educational dollars and putting more lost souls into the college level remedial hopper costing the system double. That is insanity.

Doesn't matter if you kid loves it, if it require expenditure later to make up for what does not get learned in K-12, it is a very poor bargain and needs to stop.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 31, 2013 at 7:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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