Press release: March 14, 2012
Hundreds Sign Petition Against Proposed Elementary Charter School
Group calls on charter organizers to join together in support of existing, thriving neighborhood schools
March 14, 2012—Save Santa Cruz Neighborhood Schools, a parent-based group formed in opposition to the proposed Maria Montessori Elementary Charter School that could cost Santa Cruz City Schools $1 million in cuts, today announced it has gathered over 615 signatures for its online petition.
“The proposed school is a predatory charter school designed to provide a private school education through public funds to benefit up to 125 students. No one has disputed the fact that it would be funded by taking money directly from Santa Cruz City Schools. Yet, the organizers of the proposed school continue to push forward,” said Isabelle Tuncer, parent leader with Save Santa Cruz Neighborhood Schools. “On behalf of hundreds of petition signers, thousands of thriving students and tens of thousands of tax payers, we call upon the Maria Montessori organizers to join with us in investing their time, energy and ideas in helping our existing neighborhood schools continue to reach higher.”
The momentum against the proposed charter is clear. In just the last four weeks:
- – Over 615 online petition signers
- – Approximately 75 turned out for a pro-public schools rally on 24 hrs notice
- – 100 fans have been added to a new Facebook page for the movement
- – Dozens of letters to the editor have been submitted to local newspapers
- – Press coverage has included print, online and TV
What’s Wrong with the Proposed Charter?
1. The proposed charter school would harm class sizes, art, music, libraries and more at our neighborhood schools. Funding for Santa Cruz City Schools elementary schools (Bay View, DeLaveaga, Gault, Monarch and Westlake) comes from a fixed amount of local property tax funding to be shared among elementary schools within the district. Maria Montessori’s organizers are targeting Santa Cruz City Schools to be the host school district for their charter. Therefore, by law, the Maria Montessori charter school will be funded from the same fixed amount of money, resulting in a direct loss of funds to our neighborhood schools. Based upon the Maria Montessori charter organizers’ public statements, the amount of the loss could be $1 million.
2. Even though Santa Cruz City Schools already offers choice through its very successful, 38-year-old, Montessori-inspired Monarch Community School, organizers of the charter aren’t satisfied and want a Montessori-based school of their own. The charter organizers have rejected Monarch, without a legitimate attempt to discuss options to adapt curriculum, access, etc. to meet their needs. In addition to Monarch, Santa Cruz City Schools offers alternative elementary school programming through its Dos Alas dual language immersion program and AFE home school program.
3. The proposed charter school is predatory towards our neighborhood schools. The organizers are trying to make their case by tearing down our thriving, locally-supported neighborhood schools. They launched their charter effort by widely distributing an offensive video that showed public school students as being victims of having their inner “light dimmed.” Watch the video.
Comments From Petition Signers
“We cannot afford to pay for the private education of a few at the expense of the many. We should ban together as a community to serve the needs of ALL our children. That is our responsibility as parents and community members.”
“Our child had an outstanding Montessori preschool experience. But we do not feel entitled to strip the taxpayers’ money away from our awesome public school to give these families a free Montessori school.”
“We are fortunate to have the alternatives that are currently available through SCCS. Adding the Montessori school at this time doesn’t make sense.”
“Terrible timing. Just terrible.”
“Thanks to the talented devoted teachers, staff, and the contributions of parents, our schools are wonderful…though they’ve survived several cuts. This charter school would deplete the resources for thousands of students.”
“Keep the funding and people power at our neighborhood schools. Teachers, parents and community members are accomplishing great things at our local schools, we can’t afford to reverse the momentum.”
To read these and other comments from other community members, see our petition.
Press coverage archive
Our rally to defend Santa Cruz neighborhood schools on February 22 was widely covered by local media. Here are a few links:
- Santa Cruz Sentinel: coverage of the rally and a follow-up Sunday feature. Letters to the editor in favor of preserving existing public school choices have since appeared in the Sentinel.
- CBS affiliate KION televised covered the rally
- Unvisión affiliation KSMS televised the rally in Spanish
- Santa Cruz Patch (a professionally written, community-specific news platform that is part of the Patch.org network) not only covered the rally, but has been the site of spirited discussions. A follow-up poll trended 80% against the proposed new charter school.