Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Radio Commentary

Sometimes young people look for the easy way out. They may want to take a class that does not challenge them, or slide by with little effort.
It helps to have children understand the importance of challenging themselves to their fullest. Encourage them to take courses that are demanding — ones that get them to think and reach a little further.
Subjects or projects that require young people to push harder are well worth the extra effort. When they find an extra resource within themselves, they feel comfortable trying new challenges in the future. 
By taking accelerated courses, your children might end up finding their life’s passion. The hard work will often pay off in experiences that they otherwise might not have been able to share.
The payoff might be as simple as interacting with students they’ve never talked with before, getting hands-on experience in a new area, meeting experts in a certain field, or writing college-level research papers that will better prepare them for higher-level academic challenges.
While children should be allowed to focus on the present moment, help them understand that the future will hold more opportunities for those with broader experiences.
Reaching beyond one’s grasp and finding success is positive reinforcement. It is a good way to keep at bay the fear that too often is associated with trying something new or difficult.
It’s been said that “You get what you settle for.” Make sure your children set their own bars high and use their skills and creativity to meet those higher standards.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Promoting culture of reading

Radio Commentary

What can parents do to excite their children about school and learning? A former national Teacher of the Year provided the following suggestions.
First, he said, promote a culture of reading at home. Reading is the gateway to all knowledge and is fundamental to academic excellence.
Computers are wonderful tools, but they cannot replace books. Reading stimulates the imagination and encourages creative thinking.
So read with your children. Discuss a book or an article in the car, while walking, and at the dinner table.
Turn reading into a pleasant event by taking children to libraries and bookstores once a week. 
Give them an allowance and let them choose the books they want without questioning what they’ve chosen. 
Don’t insist that they always read “educational” material. A lifelong love of reading can start with almost any book or magazine. 
Stimulate your children’s curiosity. Children need to be encouraged to ask “Why?” when they don’t understand something. Learning is a constant process, and children sometimes think this process is over once they have an answer.
They need to be taught to push for more answers. So when children ask “Why”? -- Don’t respond with a pat answer. Ask, “What do you think?  Or “Why do you think that’s so?”  Or, “I’m not sure; let’s look it up.”
The goal is to spark their curiosity so that it becomes fun to learn new information.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I Madonnari

Radio Commentary

The plaza of the Old Mission will once again come to colorful life when Santa Barbara’s Italian Street Painting Festival is celebrated over Memorial Day weekend, May 27 to May 29.
I Madonnari, which is part Renaissance fair, part performance art, and one of Santa Barbara's most popular open-air festivals, will once again transform the plaza at the Mission over Memorial Day weekend.
My office sponsors the program, run through our Children’s Creative Project, as a continuing means of fostering arts education and expression for young and old alike.
It is also a major fund-raiser for the Children’s Creative Project.
The Project uses professional artists-in-residence to provide quality arts instruction in the visual and performing arts.
The Project also brings professional performing arts groups to Santa Barbara to work with our local school children.
These performers reach over 50,000 children in scores of elementary schools every year.
The Children’s Creative Project is more essential than ever. Every dollar raised is used to support visual and performing arts instruction in our schools.
At the I Madonnari festival, pavement squares sponsored by businesses and organizations are made available for local artists, architects, and school children.
Don’t miss out on this local tradition, starting May 27 at the Santa Barbara Mission.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Santa Barbara County Education Office recognizes Classified Employees of the Year

News release

At its monthly board meeting on June 1, the Santa Barbara County Education Office will recognize two extraordinary professionals as the 2017 Santa Barbara County Classified School Employees of the Year.
Honored this year in the Support Services and Security category is Brenda Galvez, a community liaison in the Orcutt Union School District. She is currently assigned to multiple schools in the district, although most of her time is spent at Olga Reed School, a 210-student, rural TK-8 school with over 60% of its students identified as English Learners, and over 80% of its students classified as low-income.
“Brenda inspires me,” says her principal, Joe Dana, “and I can say without reservation that Olga Reed School would not be what it is without the amazing contributions of the incomparable Brenda Galvez.”
“Brenda and her ‘moms’ have a huge role at the school,” says her district superintendent, Dr. Debbie Blow. “Brenda is willing to do everything she can to support the school’s families.”
Raymond Segovia, a painter in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, is the winner in the Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities category. “Ray takes pride in the work he does to keep the schools looking good for current students,” says Reese Thompson, the district’s director of facilities and operations. Anita Wickers, an administrative assistant in the district, adds, “I call Ray my ‘Little Ray of Sunshine.’ He always takes the time to greet his fellow employees with a smile, while continually working hard to get the job done—whatever that job takes. His work ethic is evident in his attention to detail and his dedication to his trade.”
“Classified employees are at the heartbeat of education and are instrumental to the smooth operation of schools, playing a major role in educating tomorrow’s leaders. We honor them for all they do for children,” said County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “Brenda and Ray represent all the school staff members who play such a vital role in supporting children’s achievement.”
The program is part of a statewide recognition sponsored by the California Department of Education (CDE). Galvez and Segovia’s nomination packages were forwarded to the CDE for consideration as the California Classified Employee of the Year.

Cabrillo High School music teacher named 2018 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year

News release

Garson Olivieri, a music teacher at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, has been named the 2018 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County. The award was created in 2015, in a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) and the Santa Barbara Bowl through the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation Education Outreach, which is dedicated to supporting performing arts in the community. Olivieri will succeed Brett Larsen, a music teacher at Adams Elementary School in Santa Barbara, as the Performing Arts Teacher of the Year next academic year.
“One of Santa Barbara Bowl’s Education Outreach priorities is ensuring access to the performing arts for all youth in Santa Barbara County,” says Graham Farrar, the Bowl’s Education Outreach Committee Chair and Board Secretary. “Educators like Garson play a vital role in positively enhancing the lives of students every day. We thank Garson for his dedication to his students and to his community. We are excited to support this award and teachers like him!”
Olivieri will be honored at the fifth annual “A Salute to Teachers,” a gala event recognizing award-winning educators from Santa Barbara County, to be held next fall. The event partners SBCEO with Cox Communications and a variety of sponsors. Cox has sponsored a similar celebration for over 25 years in San Diego, and is honored to continue this great tradition of teacher recognition for Santa Barbara County educators.
“Mr. O,” as he is affectionately called, is highly respected and admired for his teaching and leadership not only at Cabrillo High School but also throughout the district. His students often start playing with the Allan Hancock Community College Jazz Band, Atascadero Community Band, and other local ensembles. In recent years, the Jazz Band has performed with the local jazz group, the Basin Street Regulars, who were so impressed with the group that, this year, they offered scholarships to all of the Cabrillo students who performed.
“I was both surprised and deeply humbled to be named Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County,” Olivieri said. He learned of the award in a surprise announcement from his colleague Chris Ladwig, who together had taken their students to perform at Disneyland. “It’s an honor to work with the students at Cabrillo every day,” Olivieri says. “My students — and the families who love and support their pursuit of music — are an inspiration to me. I am so grateful to the Santa Barbara Bowl for making this award possible. It speaks to the way our community truly values arts education.”
“Garson’s passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the performing arts shine through, and have inspired young students to develop an enduring appreciation for music and the arts,” says County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “We applaud the Santa Barbara Bowl's vision in spotlighting the importance of the performing arts in a well rounded education by sponsoring the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year Award, and sincerely appreciate Cox Communications’ sponsorship of ‘A Salute to Teachers,’ where Garson will be honored before fellow educators and community partners from around the county.” 
“The Santa Barbara Bowl works hand in hand with many community organizations to help enrich the lives of everyone,” adds Rick Boller, the Bowl Foundation’s Executive Director. “By leveraging the success of the Bowl’s Concert Seasons, we are able to help support programs like a Community Ticket Subsidy, Instrument Fund, the SBCEO Teachers Network Performing Arts Curriculum Project Grants, as well as the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to Garson Olivieri on his success in the classroom and his impact on the world of performing arts… and we hope he has a great time at the concert he choses to attend as part of his award.”

Mothers’ degrees

Radio Commentary

High standards and accountability are critical to school reform, and I strongly support both these areas. 
I do worry that using test scores as the sole measure of progress can mask the more complete picture. Here’s a quiz we often use to illustrate the point: 
Which of the following factors is the most accurate predictor of a school’s standardized test scores?
A.  The quality of the teaching staff
B.  The percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunches
C.  The number of children who moved from another school during the year
D.  The average number of hours volunteered each week
E.  The number of mothers who hold a college degree.
The answer is E.
Nationwide, schools with the highest number of mothers with college degrees have the highest test scores. No other factor correlates as highly.
But the answer is also ‘all of the above,’ because ALL these factors correlate with test scores. 
Everyone agrees we must have a means to evaluate how well a student has grasped the subject matter that’s been taught, and good tests do just that. 
But sometimes it is hard for students to show on a test what they really know quite well. The problem is dealing with the way a question is asked, not the information itself.
We need to know which students are truly falling short in knowledge so that we can help them succeed. The correlating factors remind us that when it comes to achievement, test scores can never tell us the whole story.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

No free lunch

Radio Commentary

More than two-dozen “lessons for life” were outlined in a book written by Marian Wright Edelman, best known for her position as president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Edelman wrote the book as a letter to her own children, but the wisdom that permeates it can serve as a lesson for us all.
The first lesson is quite simple: There is no free lunch. Don’t feel entitled to anything you don’t sweat and struggle for.
She writes:  “Each American adult and child must struggle to achieve, and not think for a moment that America has got it made.”
Especially in the days of instant fame and celebrity through the sports and entertainment fields, it is sometimes difficult for young people to keep their lives and their goals in perspective.
Edelman reminds us that rewards are so much richer and more fulfilling if we have earned them through our own hard work.
She says we must teach our children, by example, not to wobble and jerk through life, but to take care and pride in work, and to be reliable. 
A life well lived is embodied in those who serve others, who share their successes, and who give back to those who have helped them.
Many of us know of philanthropists who have accumulated great wealth but are moved to share it in ways that benefit others. 
Those we admire most are those who do it quietly without fanfare or without need for public acknowledgment. They do it not for self-glory, but for what they see as the public good.
It’s a good value to instill in all our children.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Radio Commentary

Many people believe that children today lack good manners and too often display rude behavior.
That may be a bad “rap” for the younger generation as a whole. Clearly, there are examples at both extremes of the spectrum when it comes to displaying good manners for every age group.
The fact remains that good manners must be taught; they do not come naturally.
In fact, bad manners are usually natural, selfish impulses that children are sometimes allowed to demonstrate.
Curbing poor manners and developing good ones requires parents to place real limits on their children. A caring adult may need to have a tug of war with a child who has developed the habit of a me-first attitude.
It involves taking away ordinary privileges, and saying “no.” Sometimes that’s harder for the parent than for the child.
Remember that good manners are not just about rules. It’s also about showing children how to be gracious and respectful.
Simple words like “please,” “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “excuse me,” go a long way, as well.
Teaching manners may start out with a negative approach of restrictions and consequences. But the outcome should always be a form of civility, respect, and love.