Capistrano Unified School District teacher Donna Smiggs made this address to the Board of Trustees at the February 8 board meeting. The issue of the charter schools pending before the district are serious, as officials estimate Oxford will cost the district $700,000.
Oxford did announce then that officials with that school will seek less expensive alternatives.
I am here today regarding the Oxford petition. My name is Donna Smiggs. I am a public school teacher with 15 years of experience teaching fifth graders at Castille who have varying abilities, learning styles, and cultural backgrounds. I am also a parent and a tax-paying citizen of the city of MIssion Viejo.
I was present at the December 7 board meeting and listened to every Oxford petitioner very carefully. I don't think Oxford's program is vastly different than CUSD's. Teacheres have been teaching using Howard Gardner's theory of mulitple intelligences for decades now. The theory is implemented within reason. Personally, one of my daughters is a kinesthetic learner.My living room is an empty room with hardwood floors, so that she can skate while she studies. I certainly don't expect the school system to alter the environment to meet her needs to this extent nor would I want it to. She needs to learn to adapt to all environments, especially those that require sitting at a desk. In addition, it troubles me to learn that CUSD stands to lose approximately $700,000 out of the general fund to implement something supposedly "different" than what we already offer.
I did leave this meeting feeling highly insulted and with some suspicions about the [student] recruiting process, so I did some research. I discovered they passed out fliers at a showing of Waiting for Superman. This seems as though they have a cause to champion. I am unlclear, however, as to why they are here at CUSD, a high performing district. I don't believe there is a cause to chamption here.
I then decided to do some field research and walk the neighborhood homes of the Chino Oxford site. I spoke with 21 families. Only one of these 21 families has a child attending the Chino site. All but five of these families speak Spanish as a second language or their only language. I do speak Spanish as my third language, albeit not fluently, but well enough to carry a conversation. when asked why their children don't attend the school down the street, I heard multiple times "Es privada. No es publica." (It's private, not public." Several families also thought it was a school for the wealthy and "smart" kids. One lady went to the school and inquired about admissions. She was told, "No one speaks Spanish here to help you." Several other families inquired as well, and they were told that if they could afford $200-$300 for uniforms and $20 per week for lunch/child or pack a lunch, they would be put on the waiting list. These families walked out. I had no idea that not having a free or reduced lunch would deter anyone from sending a child to a school within 100s of feet from their front door.
Should we be using taxpayers' dollars to segregate children from whatever reason? That which falls under the letter of the law may not necessarily be morally and ethically sound. Unfortunately, history is full of such examples. Let us not be part of yet another example.