High School Blues

On May 1, the Santa Barbara School Board voted in a 4-1 decision (Bob Noel dissenting) to deny the American Charter High School (ACHS) its charter. This doesn’t come as a surprise to many of us who have attended any of the Santa Barbara school board meetings where Bob Noel and company presented the school’s charter. Judging by the lack of enthusiasm the board had expressed from its inception, the surprise would have been a positive vote on Dr. Noel’s innovative educational idea.

According to an article on www.santabarbaranewsroom.com written by Rob Kuznia, School Board member Annette Cordero was quoted saying, “From the outset this school has been talked about as filling a need for students not interested in going to college, the thought that we want to identify students in ninth grade as interested to go to college or not, and have a charter school on that basis, worries me.”

I am a little confused as to what Ms Cordero is worried about. Apparently, not attending college is a mistake. As a recent almost-graduate of a four/five-year college (I need three more credits in order to graduate and receive a degree), I am a little puzzled as to what the point of college is these days.

College, up to a certain point, offers a wide variety of educational opportunities that enables those of us that attend to perform tasks, self-educate (literate), and become productive members of society.

As a high-school student at SBHS, I couldn’t fail to notice that many fellow students were neither engaged nor interested in what the public educational system was offering. I eventually tested out (in my junior year) and enrolled into Santa Barbara City College. All my classes at SBHS, except for GATE, were mostly filled with a large majority of kids who had virtually no interest in what was going on in the classroom.

These are the kids that Dr. Noel’s American Charter High School was attempting to attract, and the negative vote by the rest of the school board causes me to wonder whether the other board members really care about the students who can barely keep their eyes open during regular class hours, never do their homework, and will never attend college. Are we serving these children best by forcing them to digest the traditional education that is being served?

I doubt it. The American Charter High School could have offered something new for these students.

The belief – and it must be a religious belief, because there is no demonstrative evidence to back it up – that every one is equally talented in all academic areas is patently ridiculous.

The reality is that students are talented in something, but it just may not be academics. Some are better at math, physics, and science, some at English, French, or History, but others excel at construction, artwork, you name it.

Giving students the option to attend a standard four-year college is an admirable goal, but as a society we have reached the point whereby that option has become a requirement. We have convinced many that without a college education a child will not, cannot, achieve success. But there really are other options. One of those options however – Dr. Noel’s American Charter High School – has been declined.

With so many kids (more women than men) graduating from college, it is easy to see that five years from now, or even sooner, someone with a technical certificate will have an easier time finding a competitive job than the droves of kids graduating with a communications degree. Maybe I was raised old-fashioned but a job is something to be proud of and careers in law enforcement, the military, as a firefighter, technician, plumber, mechanic, carpenter, etc., are noble endeavors. As more kids choose college as the only path, the demand for skilled/technical workers will increase. If looking out for students is in our community’s best interest, multiple educational options are a plus.

We commend Bob Noel’s effort and hope he and his supporters work out the objections and put pressure back on the school board to pass this charter, if not for this year, then next.

Happy Mother’s Day

It’s no secret that motherhood is the institution that makes everything else work. It is, after all, Montecito moms who put the most hours into school fundraisers, non-profits, charities, and other worthy causes. And so, for those children, husbands, grandchildren and others looking to give that special mom a treat out on the town, choosing something from our special Mother’s Day eateries guide on page 11 would be one of the nice things you could do this Sunday. Happy Mother’s Day!