A new “pod” school led by Christy Lozano hit a snag on Tuesday, August 2, when a Thursday meeting to discuss opening the school at the Goleta United Boys & Girls Club building was abruptly canceled.
Michael Baker, CEO of the nonprofit, and Lozano have different impressions of what was said and what was promised at their first meeting in May. Baker believed it was a general discussion about opening a school and that “we have no agreement at all with this group,” which is called the Honest Education Learning Project, LLC. Lozano indicated in an email that she’d understood Baker had “graciously offered all of his S.B. County clubs for use for this literacy project.”
Lozano has been something of a lightning rod in Santa Barbara County education circles since appearing on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News program in February to claim that Santa Barbara Unified School District was requiring teachers to use “woke” and manipulative materials. She charged that young children were being taught inappropriate material about race, racism, and sexual orientation. Lozano has been a teacher for the district at six schools; she most recently taught physical education at Dos Pueblos High School but finished out the last academic year on leave.
The school district explained the materials were background information requested by teachers and not part of any curriculum, but Lozano took her argument on the road as a candidate for county superintendent of schools this past June. She was defeated by the incumbent by 25 points.
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Baker said he’d been surprised by Lozano’s press release last Friday, which announced a meeting for a K-12 program at the United Boys & Girls Club. On Tuesday, Baker met with Lozano and James Fenkner, a conservative critic of the Santa Barbara school district and club supporter, to tell them their project was a matter for his executive committee to decide. Lozano said Baker told them the meeting for Thursday was postponed “due to a number of complaints by unnamed sources.”
Lozano described her proposed school as one that “builds upon a successful local education pod model.” It would have an initial enrollment of 12 students per pod, and a math, science, English, Spanish, sports, and electives curriculum. The cost would be $100 per day for a Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. schedule, over two 15-week semesters. This would amount to a $15,000 per year program, which is roughly the cost of private elementary schools in the area.
Asked if the tuition wasn’t steep — the United Boys & Girls Club charges its members $40 a year — Lozano said, “We don’t expect that anyone would be paying the $100 price, as a combination of scholarships and volunteering (by parents or the community) bring the price down to near zero. The posted price is intentionally high so that teachers would be paid well and that volunteer hours are properly valued ($25/hr).”
She stated 30 people had already signed up for the Thursday meeting and that 25 people had attended an earlier meeting in July. A number of credentialed and experienced teachers were lined up, Lozano said, and were looking forward to the small classes, which would combine grades and ages by learning level.
Whether the small, private school will open its doors at the United Boys & Girls Club in Goleta won’t be determined until the club’s executive board meets on August 16.