Thursday, October 27, 2016

A nation of education

Radio Commentary

The percentage of the United States population that has completed high school and college has increased over the past generation.

As late as 1970, only 55 percent of the population age 25 years and older had completed four or more years of high school.
That total has jumped from 55 percent to nearly 90 percent in a recent survey.
Meanwhile, the percentage of 25-year-olds who have completed four years of college has increased from 11 percent to 34 percent.
These are findings of the National Center for Education Statistics.
Many people find it surprising to learn that, at any given time, nearly one-third of Americans are involved with our education system.
Think about that.
The United States has a population of almost 320 million people.
Of those residents, more than 77 million students are enrolled in American schools and colleges.
Many residents also work in the education system. Almost seven million Americans are employed as elementary and secondary school teachers and as college faculty.
Another five million work as professional, administrative, or support staff of educational institutions.
Clearly, education is a central portion of who we are as Americans, and nearly a third of us cherish it enough to participate in it or work for it. It’s an impressive statistic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ingredients for success

Radio Commentary

Four simple ingredients can make any child achieve better in school. These elements are easy to provide, and will help make your child more successful, and in life.
First comes support. 
Young people need to know that someone is in their corner. They can be successful if they feel that someone cares deeply about whether they succeed or fail, and is proud of their successes and efforts.
Second is having boundaries and expectations. Children need adults who act like adults.
Parents who are firm and loving have children who do better at school, feel more self-confident, and get into less trouble than children whose parents are either too strict or too lenient.
Third is empowerment. All people need to know they make a difference. Encourage children to provide service to others. Make sure they take part in school, community or religious organizations that provide service to others.
And fourth is constructive use of time. After school, children still need to be involved in constructive activities. Research shows that children who watch more than 10 hours of TV per week are less successful in school. 
So be sure young people have challenging and interesting activities to do after they leave the classroom each day.
These four elements — support; expectations; empowerment; and constructive use of time — have proven to make a big difference in a child’s success at school and in life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More decision-making skills

Radio Commentary

There are actions parents can take to help children develop good decision-making skills.
First, always set clear expectations. Children should know exactly what your position is on drug and alcohol use, gang affiliation, sexual activity, and school attendance. 
There must be clear consequences for failing to observe these rules, and your enforcement must be consistent.
You should also be aware of the example you set. 
Children of all ages are aware of your attitudes and habits. They are more likely to follow your example than your lectures.
The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” simply doesn’t work with young people.
A positive parent-child relationship is good motivation for your child to follow your guidelines and standards.
Remember: You should have high expectations, but influence is not control. 
This means expressing to your child statements such as:  “You have everything you need to be successful” … and … “You can do it!” It does not mean pressuring children to achieve unrealistic perfectionist standards.
The road to adulthood is never straight and smooth, but parents can help their children on that journey with the right attitude and the right tools.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Setting TV limits

Radio Commentary

When you consider Saturday morning cartoons, computer games, advertising, and movies, it can be worrisome to think about the media’s impact on children.
How can you set family standards for violence and other questionable content?
A resource called “Parenting in a TV Age,” published by the Center for Media and Values, answered some of these questions.
First, parents should take charge of children’s TV watching or computer-game use by setting limits on how much they will be allowed to watch or play. Typical limits include two hours a day, or 10 hours on a weekend.
Parents should also encourage daily alternatives, such as sports, games, hobbies, reading, chores, and playing with friends.
It’s also a good idea to get a locking device on your TV to bar access to certain cable channels and to consider similar filters for online sites.
Parents should decide ahead of time what “strings” to attach to viewing a popular show that may contain troublesome content. For example, children might be allowed to watch a certain program only if they agree to spend 15 minutes afterward discussing it with you.
Perhaps most important of all, parents sometimes forget their crucial role as a model for their children. Be willing to set limits on your own viewing.
Model the media behavior you would like your children to follow.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Joy of reading

Radio Commentary

Columbia University professor Lucy Calkins inspired a generation of teachers to help young children become better readers.
One of her books is a parents’ guide to raising lifelong learners, and it offers some very good advice.
Her basic counsel is that good things come to those who read. If children read avidly and read a lot, they will write better, spell better, they will know more, and they will care more.
For parents, it is critical not only to support reading, but also to do it the appropriate way.
She paints two different pictures to illustrate her point. In the first scenario, the parent asks a child arriving home from school if she has any homework. The child says, “Yes, I need to read.”
The parent says, “It’s good to get your homework done right away. Why don’t you go to your room, sit at your desk, and do your reading? It really matters. That’s how you get ahead — by reading.”
That’s one way to support reading. Here’s another: The parent greets the child by saying, “You’ve had a really long day at school. I bet you’re ready for time to rest and snuggle. Why don’t we each get our books and read here on the sofa? I’m in the middle of mine now.”
“I don’t know that book you’re reading. What’s it like? You are so lucky to have teachers point you to great books like that.”
The professor says that while both approaches support reading, the second conveys the message that reading is one of life’s great gifts.
And that can make all the difference.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Zaca Preschool to move forward with help of community partnership

News release

As a result of a partnership among staff members, parents, and political and community leaders, the Zaca Preschool Program in Buellton will be able to move forward and continue to serve children and families.

The future of the program, which began 20 years ago under the umbrella of the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO), became uncertain when changes to the funding model for education made it impossible for the SBCEO to sustain the program financially.

SBCEO put in motion a series of steps to help ensure that this high quality, model preschool program could continue. The program has long enjoyed enthusiastic support of the parents of all the children involved, and the annual waiting list demonstrated its desirability and value to the families and the community.

As part of the efforts to ensure sustainability, SBCEO appointed Dr. Florene Bednersh, who established the Zaca Preschool Program two decades earlier, to identify ways to move forward. She and Shelly Grand, director of the Zaca program, are leading the transition with a partnership that has emerged among
parents, staff members, and Buellton City staff and community members.

A 501c3 will be created, and staff members and the director will stay with the program. Parents and City Council members have also indicated a willingness to take part in potential fund-raising efforts.

“With all these stakeholders working together in partnership for a common purpose, it is clear that the outlook is bright,” said County Superintendent Bill Cirone. “We are particularly proud and impressed by the parents involved, and their level of enthusiasm and caring,” he said, adding that several families moved to the proximity just so their children could attend this model, full-inclusion program.

“We recognize that a preschool program of this high caliber is a valuable asset to the children and families involved, and also to the elementary school the program feeds, as evidenced by the praise of kindergarten teachers for the preparation and abilities of the students who arrive from Zaca,” he added.

SBCEO is working to make sure that everything is in place by the next school year. If the process takes more time than anticipated, SBCEO will continue to provide support throughout the transition period until everything is finalized.

For further information, please contact Dr. Florene Bednersh at (805) 964-4710 ext. 4480.

Count to 10

Radio Commentary

According to child behavior specialists, you would be surprised how much good can result when a parent counts to 10 before responding to a child, especially in a tense situation.
When such a situation arises, pause. Don’t react. Don’t say anything. Avoid making any immediate threats, judgments, or punishments. Just wait, and give yourself 10 seconds to process the situation.
The space created by that pause will help you think about your response, and will lessen the likelihood of a “misfire” on your part that could compound the problem.
It is not uncommon for parents who are quick on the trigger to regret what came out in that first rush of reaction.
Hasty judgments, harsh consequences, or dire threats are very hard to take back once they’ve been delivered.
For that reason, it is far better to head them off before they are said out loud.
The simple act of pausing and counting to 10 can buy the time necessary to react more appropriately.
A pause can help a parent get closer to a response that is deliberate and wise.
So take a breath, count to 10, and use that time to think through what you really want to say and how you really want to react. It will make most situations much easier to handle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Free and reduced-price meals provided in national school lunch program at one community school of the county education office for school year 2016/17

News release

Peter B. FitzGerald Community School, a program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools program, announced the policy for providing free and reduced-price meals for children served under the National School Lunch Program. The school or central office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.

The household size and income criteria that follows will be used to determine eligibility for free, reduced-price, or full-price meal benefits. Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or
reduced-price meals.

Children who receive CalFresh, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payments (Kin-GAP), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) benefits.

Application forms are being distributed to all households with a letter informing them of the availability of free and reduced-price meals for enrolled children. Applications are also available at the school.

To apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits, households must complete an application and return it to the school for processing. Applications may be submitted at any time during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used to determine meal eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school or program officials.

Requirements for school officials to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits are as follows:

For households receiving CalFresh, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR benefits – applications need only include the enrolled child(ren)'s name, CalFresh, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR case number, and the signature of an adult
household member. All children in households that receive CalFresh, CalWORKS, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR are eligible for free meals, and if any child is not listed on the eligibility notice, that household should contact their school to have benefits extended to that child.

For households who do not list a CalFresh, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR case number, the application must include the names of all household members, the amount and source of the income received by each household member, and the signature and corresponding last four digits of a Social Security number of an adult household member. If the household member who signs the application does not have a Social Security number, the household member must indicate on the application that a Social Security number is not available.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, the determining official(s), as designated by the sponsor/agency, shall review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the eligibility ruling may discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. Parents may also make a formal request for an appeal hearing of the decision and may do so orally or in writing with the sponsor/agency’s hearing official. Parents or guardians should contact their child(ren)’s school(s) for specific information regarding the name of the determining official and/or hearing official for a specific school, agency, or district.

If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household's income falls at or below the levels shown above.

Households that receive CalFresh, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR benefits may not have to complete an Application for Free or Reduced-Price Meals or Free Milk . School officials will determine eligibility for free meals based on documentation obtained directly from the CalFresh, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR office that a child is a member of a household currently receiving CalFresh or FDPIR benefits or an assistance unit receiving CalWORKs or Kin-GAP benefits. School officials will notify households of their eligibility, but those who do not want their
child(ren) to receive free meals must contact the school. CalFresh, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, and FDPIR households should complete an application if they are not notified of their eligibility within 10 calendar days. Households will also be notified of any child’s eligibility for free meals if the individual child is categorized as foster, homeless, migrant, runaway, enrolled in an eligible Head Start, or enrolled in an eligible pre-kindergarten class.

Foster children are eligible for free meals and may be included as a household member of a foster family if the foster family chooses to also apply for the non-foster children. Including foster children as a household member may help the non-foster children in the household qualify for free or reduced-price meal benefits. If the foster family is not eligible for meal benefits, this does not prevent foster children from receiving free meal benefits.

Children in households participating in Women, Infants and Children (WIC) may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Contact school officials for further information or complete an application for processing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and
where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information
requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or by fax (202) 690-7442 or by email at Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech
disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Note:  The only protected classes covered under the Child Nutrition Programs are race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

Further information is available from the Santa Barbara County Education Office, Rene Wheeler, Juvenile Court and Community Schools, at 967-5307.