In a free country, you’d think that if a group of parents were unhappy with the way their children were being taught and they wanted to set up their own learning center, why heck, that would be a simple thing to do.
You would be wrong.
Kindergarten-through-12th-grade education in the United States is held in a stranglehold by national and statewide teacher unions, and those institutions brook no competition. Unless you are among the wealthy or are willing to devote yourself to teaching your children yourself (and are willing to jump through the various hoops and comply with the myriad regulations required before being allowed to do so), there are virtually no alternatives other than the big-government school in your neighborhood.
And that suits the teachers’ unions just fine.
Oh, sure, there are charter schools, but those are kept on a short leash — particularly here in California — by the union watchdogs that regard any competition to their money train as an insult or as part of a “right-wing conspiracy.”
That so many school boards buy the premise of right-wing conspiracies and other fallacies when and/or if a parent objects to, say, drag queens officiating elementary school events, the introduction of transgender-promoting books and other “progressive” subjects to first-, second-, or third-graders is baffling, as is active opposition to common-sense proposals to require teachers to inform parents of a change in a child’s status.
Which is why veteran teacher Christy Lozano became a candidate for the position of Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools. She lost — the entire education establishment coalesced in opposition to her — but she put up a good fight, especially after the first response to her candidacy was a legal challenge to her right to run.
The election is over, the incumbent stayed in her cushy $300,000-plus-a-year sinecure, and absolutely nothing has changed in the schools and/or the system. That parents, principals, teachers, superintendents, and school board members seem content that less than 50% of students in the Santa Barbara Schools System pass even their low-grade competency tests is also baffling.
So Ms. Lozano, in contemplation of her options, has decided that rather than going back to teaching within the system, she’d put together a team of teachers, advisers and backers to help create what she is calling the Honest Education Learning Project, which, she says, will offer “a healthy alternative that includes a back-to-basics traditional curriculum and a proven small-group learning environment.”
Her goal is a five-day-a-week, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. learning environment for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. “Class sizes,” she says, “would be limited to 12, and students could stay after 2 p.m., up to 6 p.,m. and dinner would be offered.”
The H.E.L.P. program’s focus will be on English Language Arts, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), physical education, sports, health, Spanish and electives such as cooking, garden, music, astronomy, etc.
There would probably be no emphasis whatsoever on transgender possibilities or critical race theory, but that’s just my guess.
Tuition is pegged at $7,500 for a 15-week semester, but much of the cost could be lessened by parental involvement, grants and other set-asides.
“We don’t expect that anyone would be paying that,” Christy tells me. She explains that “a combination of scholarships and volunteering (by parents or the community) brings the price down to near zero for low-income and/or first-generation children.” She also says that part of what makes this model especially effective “is that we require parents to participate in their children’s education.”
She was prepared to present her plan to some 30 interested parents on Wednesday at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Goleta, but her presentation was canceled at the last minute because of unexplained and unrevealed “anonymous” complaints.
“The precise nature of these complaints was not disclosed,” Christy says in a statement she sent to me, “nor were the names of those who made them. What is clear is that those who have complained are, at best, willfully uninformed or, at worst, have agendas that do not include high-quality educational outcomes for low-income, first-generation children. The fact that anyone would stoop so low as to pressure a renowned organization like United Boys and Girls Club to withhold educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth is unconscionable.”
Of course, she’s right about that, but my guess is that whoever those “anonymous” callers, texters, and/or e-mailers are, they probably have a stake in maintaining the disgraceful educational status quo.
Ms. Lozano has asked for the opportunity to hold another public meeting to address misinformation, complaints, and concerns, but — at least as of this writing — Michael Baker, the executive director of the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, has declined to set aside a date or a meeting place, although he did promise Ms. Lozano that he would revisit the matter and share the goals of H.E.L.P. with his board members on Aug. 16.
Christy says her hope is “that either the United Boys and Girls Club or another such organization will partner with H.E.L.P. to bring high-quality, proven educational outcomes to the most underserved.”
Her goal is both ambitious and noble. It won’t be easy — her detractors are determined and powerful — but I wish her great success in this endeavor as I don’t believe you’ll find a more dedicated, sincere and earnest supporter of good solid childhood education than Christy Lozano.
She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can visit her website, www.honesteducation.org, to learn more.
James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident. He welcomes questions or comments at email@example.com. Readers are invited to visit jimb.substack.com, where Jim’s Journals are on file. He also invites people to subscribe to Jim’s Journal.