Parents tell Manzanita to give students a break

Charter school recess policy questioned
2012-09-13T00:50:00Z 2014-05-05T11:33:51Z Parents tell Manzanita to give students a breakBy John Sakata/Staff writer/jsakata@lompocrecord.com Lompoc Record

Parents went before the Manzanita Charter Governance Board on Wednesday to speak out on behalf what they considered an important part of their child’s learning: the right to recess.

Students enrolled in Manzanita Charter started the school year with a 10-minute break, half of what they were last year, according to parents, who said that because the breaks were not unstructured time, they could not be considered recess. In effect, parents said, recess had been eliminated.

A pair of parents — they pulled their children from Manzanita because of the change — expressed frustration to the board that they weren’t contacted about the change before the break period was reduced so students would have more uninterrupted time to practice reading and writing skills.

During the break, students have a snack, but then are assigned an activity to participate, parents said.

Michelle Morales, who pulled her fourth-grade son from Manzanita before the school year started, said the time was important for the children to stay productive.

“When I work I want my 10-minute break,” the Vandenberg Village resident told the board. “I don’t’ want to be told by my boss what to do.”

She also said she pulled her child from school because of the lack of enforcement in student discipline.

Lompoc resident Sarah Dowhower, who pulled her three children out of Manzanita, expressed frustration about the shorter breaks, which was recommended by Principal Lynnda Palmer and adopted by the board last month.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Dowhower said she heard complaints from her children immediately about the change.

“They all (complained),” Dowhower said. That was my daughter’s first complaint on the first day of school.”

Manzanita students start the morning with a 60-minute bloc working on writing skills, then comes the break, which is followed with a 90-minute section to focus on reading, Palmer said.

The change is part of a program called Take 10! adopted by other schools, Palmer said, although she said it hasn’t picked up in popularity in California. According to the Take 10! website, the program strives to integrate physical activity, nutrition and health concepts with academic lessons in elementary schools.

The long blocks dedicated to reading and writing is a concerted effort to improve “writing stamina,” Palmer said.

Manzanita teacher Kathy Guthrie, who has a child enrolled in the school, said there is more structure to the morning break period.

As a teacher, she said she was pleased with the change because settling students after recess typically lasted longer than 20 minutes, but Morales, the mother of the fourth-grader, said that not all teachers are pleased.

“You’re one teacher, just one,” Morales said.

Board Director Patricia Brown said that she has not received any complaints from her two sons enrolled at the school. She said the decision was unanimously supported by the board.

“Kids come to school to learn,” said Brown, who said children are offered free time.

Manzanita, co-founded by Palmer and Kathy Grbac, opened in August 2008. The school’s charter is up for renewal this fall by Lompoc Unified School District.

Copyright 2015 Lompoc Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(32) Comments

  1. 805Mommy05
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    805Mommy05 - May 21, 2014 10:34 am
    I am really upset and confused as to why these two parents in the picture even attended a meeting regarding a school they do not send their kids to. I LOVE the fact that they removed recess and replaced it with the Take Ten program, because this takes away the ability for these kids to run around unsupervised bullying other children, which is exactly what happens during recess at a regular school. They have one or two attendants watching hundereds of children and they usually just gossip with one another instead of supervising the children. This is the ideal time for bullies to victimize other students. I pulled my kids from Fillmore elementary becuase the environment of the school changed dramatically when all those teachers salaries were cut, they didn't care about their job as much as they did before (not all teachers but the ones that affected my children). Anyhow, Mrs Palmer was always curteous to me and addressed all my concernes promptly and respectfully when I approched her with those concerns. I love Manzanita school and I just pray that the school does not change now that there was a change of administration. I'm not saying that the teachers claims are unfounded, I'm sure they have their reasons, but hey I have had bosses that were mean to me and verbally abusive I think we all have had a boss like that one time or another, that's when I requested a transfer or looked for a new job. PLEASE STOP GIVING OUR WONDERFUL SCHOOL A BAD NAME WHEN YOUR CHILDREN DON'T EVEN ATTEND. I just think people in Lompoc LOVE drama and jump on the band wagon when one rides by.
  2. zsmom50
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    zsmom50 - May 14, 2014 12:19 pm
    My son has attened MPCS for 2 1/2 years. I pulled him from Fillmore Elementry mid year of third grade. He was bored because there was no challenge for him. A friend of mine was sending her children there and praised the accedemics there. My son said he wanted to give it a try. Since his transfer to MPCS he has gone from an C average student to a straight A student. Yes at first he complained of the take ten break but has adjusted to the change as most children can do. I have been to most of the school functions and have helped out with volenteer hours and have even had confrence with Mrs. Palmer regarding my sons health issues. I have never witnessed or even heard of her bulling anybody. Its a shame that parents are not letting the staff do thier jobs. The school dosn't tell us how to do our jobs at home!!! Let the schools system do thier jobs parents.
  3. Sad Parent
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    Sad Parent - September 27, 2012 12:12 pm
    Absolutly RIGHT..Parents please listen to all the warning signs..Talk to past parents and teachers.There is alot to worry about at that school,Their are GREAT teachers that are not allowed to do their job the way they know how to..Lets not let this continue!!!!it is wrong how she runs this school like she is above everyone...she is NOT..Dont let her continue to get back at the district by using our children...TAKE a closer look and you will see.Teachers continue to leave or be fired .... as we sit and wait for this to stop..no teacher would walk out on a JOB in this economy for no reason..one word PALMER...
  4. Show your taxes
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    Show your taxes - September 27, 2012 10:42 am
    Just a few points to make
    - The reason Manzanita was created was a way for the Principal to get back at LUSD for not renewing her contract.
    - Good thing LUSD has now started a dual immersion program of their own.
    - Kids need breaks just as adults do.
    - Teacher turnaround is so high that it raises a red flag as to what is going on with the admin of the school.
    - My advise to parents is to move their children to a better school.
  5. missranda
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    missranda - September 20, 2012 2:19 pm
    Bottom Line... Regardless if your children are in Public, charter, private schools.. These little folks need to be able to take a break and Run around .. Maybe compromise and have a kick ball game, or a foot race or something that enables them to expell some energy and get exercise. maybe right before or after Lunch.. Whats so terrible about that? yes it's school and they are there to learn. but Wouldn't a recess be included in that learning? Social skills, getting along with others? or being part of a team. etc.. I am just saying that there should be a way to meet in the middle.

    I don't have a child at this school and actually over the last couple of years of hearing about this school I am actually glad I dont. However My opinion of the School and how it is run has nothing to do with the fact that the Kids need to be able to have a break from the classroom for a bit during the day. Just my opinion.
  6. LompocRes
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    LompocRes - September 17, 2012 8:01 am
    No place in this article does it reference "How MPCS is failing". Please, reread the article if this is the conclusion you came to. It doesn't sound like anyone is complaining about the curriculum either, geez, maybe you should pay attention to what you read! The complaint is that recess has been removed. Please, educate yourself. Read some articles and then, re-read them to make sure you understand the studies. You seem to think recess is ONLY to tame obesity in kids. Unfortunately, you are again, incorrect.
  7. LompocRes
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    LompocRes - September 17, 2012 7:57 am
    AT GoLompoc: Someone needs to advocate for these children - who will advocate for a child more than their parent. Would anyone stand for their boss pulling their 15 min break from them or pulling their 1 hour lunch? I think not. Any reasonable person would stand up for their rights as would their union (their advocate). Anyone not complaining about students having recess taken away is an uninformed person. Please, before saying that the parents and just indulging their kids, read studies on what happens when you remove recess from schools.
  8. Sad Parent
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    Sad Parent - September 16, 2012 10:34 am
    I am pretty sure if you read the article,it said her children were pulled before school started,,and disipline was also an issue at the school.The biggest issue here it the Principle and not just recess.The teacher turn over is incredible..Why????Sounds like concerned Parents to me...
  9. GoLompoc
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    GoLompoc - September 16, 2012 9:15 am
    "“You’re one teacher, just one,” Morales said".............yah, and YOU are just one parent, just one. Ok, so there were two. The entire article is about a couple kids who went home complaining, 'boohoohoo, they're not letting me do what I want, mommy, boohoo', and the mommies just cannot bear to hear their babies cry & complain. Sounds like typical indulgent parents to me.
  10. Sad Parent
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    Sad Parent - September 15, 2012 5:20 pm
    At least these two Parents were caring of the children at the school to speak up.They took their kids out of the school but...they still had the passion to try and do what was right and let other parents know what is going on.Dont put down the ones who are standing up for what is right,sounds like removing their children was the best.Recess would be physical activity,go out and look at the kids at recess..Running, laughing,socializing and Yes EXERCISE! Not a ten min structured break,snack,potty and stuctured activity???really all of that in ten mins(really)
  11. hopeforthefuture1
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    hopeforthefuture1 - September 14, 2012 7:24 pm
    I would like to challenge the newspaper to do some research on the following: discipline policy enforcement, staff satisfaction, and high teacher turnover.
  12. hopeforthefuture1
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    hopeforthefuture1 - September 14, 2012 7:23 pm
    Ditto!
  13. hopeforthefuture1
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    hopeforthefuture1 - September 14, 2012 7:21 pm
    Good for you. Now perhaps you can look into why she gets rid of so many teachers, something that had nothing to do with the quality of the educators themselves.. Check it out if you don't believe.
  14. hopeforthefuture1
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    hopeforthefuture1 - September 14, 2012 7:18 pm
    The reason that it is inappropriate to cancel recess is that it is not developmentally appropriate to keep them buttoned up inside until lunch!
  15. hopeforthefuture1
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    hopeforthefuture1 - September 14, 2012 7:16 pm
    As principal, Mrs. Palmer has the choice to hire Teachers not affiliated with the military. When a job is posted, over 300 teachers apply. Surely there are some non military related personnel who would like to teach there? Mrs. Palmer regularly intimidates the staff and bulldozes her way over any complaints. If you truly truly want to know the facts, contact the teachers who are no longer there! I agree that more parents could have shown up, but perhaps they feel it is futile to protest. I have no idea what their reasons for staying silent may be, but I do know that if the board bothered to look into the issue of such high turnover, they might actually wake up to the situation. If you believe the facts are in dispute or that people are misinformed, then I challenge you to seek more information. An anonymous survey would be the ONLY ,way to get the facts as the teachers are terrified of losing their jobs. When someone has absolute control, there is no safety in speaking up or trying to change things. Where have ALL those teachers(military excluded) gone? Compare schools and see for yourself that the teacher turnover is completely through the roof and it is NOT because they all "relocated." in answer to 40 year resident's question of what Mrs. Palmer is afraid of, I think the answer lies in her bullying and narcissistic personality-nothing except not having absolute control and holding all the power.
  16. slammo
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    slammo - September 14, 2012 12:07 pm
    Just because your children could not function in a regular school does not mean they were not getting the job done. Yes, there are some children how have special needs and the regular curriculum is not for them. Thats why they test the entire school to make sure teachers are doing their job. All I know for sure is that when a kid leaves and goes back to LUSD, the teachers have a very hard time catching them up to the rest.
  17. bzymom4
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    bzymom4 - September 14, 2012 10:56 am
    Funny how people keep talking how MPCS is failing? Some comments are pretty annoying, I get it we all have a right to voice are opinion but do you really have the facts?? Teachers at regular schools are getting it done..LMAO. Ya my children go to MPCS and in the first grading period my daughter improved 2 grades. In "regular" school she was a year behind and now she is a grade ahead. Her Star test has never been that high! My children have no complaints, and either do I. Whats wrong with volunteer time? too many times parents leave it to the school to educate their children but its the responsibility of teachers and parents together. As for take 10 its worth a try, obviously recess hasnt helped the obesity in the kids. They are bigger than ever!! Ya compare test results...looks like alot of regular schools arent where they should be. No school is perfect and yes we have a choice, have your kid in regular school or choose a charter school or even private school! I made my choice, no regrets!
  18. Sad Parent
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    Sad Parent - September 14, 2012 9:28 am
    No the facts on the teachers is wrong...the ones who are fired or leave are not all milatary.Maybe a few are but ...not a good hiring choice to begin with,use milatary as subs only.This school will not last being ran by her.It will all come out in the end..Get hold of past teachers would be a smart start;)Maybe the way she is running this school is to get back at the district for getting rid of her...Dont let your kids be used to settle a score.There are alot of good CHARTER schools just not this one.The Teachers at Manzanita are wonderful teachers and this is not their fault it is the principle incharge of them making a mess of this school.Our public school system is awesome..and have room for the kids to return and be educated the way they need to be..Good luck Parents of Children at Manzanita,I truly mean that.
  19. slammo
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    slammo - September 14, 2012 8:52 am
    You would be amazed and how many people actually do know what they are talking about. Teachers having to PCS has nothing to do with very low test scores. And if it did, that would be another reason Palmer is doing a bad job. Don't hire teachers that are gonna leave, if this is what you base your failing school on. Taking away form a childs recess does not make up for losing five days. Again I will say, the teachers at the other schools in the district are doing it, why can't they? This school will not be here next year.
  20. Military Mom
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    Military Mom - September 13, 2012 10:20 pm
    I'm amazed at how so many people speak up without having all of the information. Have you every considered that MPCS is attached to a military installation and most of the teachers are affiliated with the military,which means they PCS (permanent change of station) every couple of years. Sometimes military members end up getting orders before they expected to and for several teachers at the school this was the case over the summer. As far as the recess argument goes, how can a parent be ok with a child losing 5 instructional days because of budget cuts and not want the school to do something to make up that instructional time? Personally, I would rather my kids be in the classroom learning than running around outside (they can do that when they get home). If so many parents are so upset about this change why did only 2 show up to the board meeting last night? Every time I have brought up a concern to Mrs. Palmer, she has address my concern and dealt with it accordingly. This school is doing great things and will continue to do so dispute misinformed people trying to give the school a bad name.
  21. 40 Year Resident
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    40 Year Resident - September 13, 2012 8:40 pm
    Taicho, never been impressed by any of your postings...and you still have yet to make your mark. If you don't have children at this school, your opinion is rather moot and non-consequential.
  22. 40 Year Resident
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    40 Year Resident - September 13, 2012 8:34 pm
    Our children are far from lazy or obese. The issue is with the Principal, Mrs Palmer, who single-handedly changed the curriculum of the school without regard to the parents, students, or the teachers. She rules the school like a dictator controls a third world country; iron fisted and with intimidation. The faculty is afraid to speak up, for they have no Union to protect them as they are "At will" employees who can be fired for no reason at alll; Mrs. Palmer realizes this and uses it against here staff regularly. I wonder what she is afraid of?
  23. hopeforthefuture1
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    hopeforthefuture1 - September 13, 2012 6:34 pm
    You hit the nail on the head!
  24. hopeforthefuture1
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    hopeforthefuture1 - September 13, 2012 6:33 pm
    I hope all the parents take a long hard look at how the school is being run. The teachers are AMAZING and should receive kudos for putting up with such a horribly stressful situation. I sure hope someone asks the former teachers (and there are sooooooo many) why they left or were fired. I mean, in THIS economy? Who would leave a high paying job unless they were unhappy, a military spouse or were fired? The students are the losers here but I think the parents are finally catching on.
  25. Light
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    Light - September 13, 2012 5:55 pm
    I agree 40 year resident. I know plenty of people that are smart and do well without a college education. I don't have children...but I was a child and I had some really great teachers and some that were not. I hope they get this problem worked out at least it's being talked about and so what if it got to the paper..with today's technology I'm not surprised.
  26. parent suporter
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    parent suporter - September 13, 2012 3:28 pm
    This Principle has gotten away with treating parents and staff poorly for too long.Not sure but seems like everyone is afraid to speak up.And yes the teacher turn around is so high,never seen anything like it before,must be hard to go to work each day not knowing when its your time to go.There is only a few teachers that have been there from the beggining.Parents Hats off to you for speaking up on behalf of our children.Research shows kids DO need unstructured play time..We all need to support the parents and this Principle needs to be stopped..Dont let your kids have the few rights like a twenty minuete recess taken from them by someone that truly has no clue if it works,not enough research done on it yet..Keep up the good work.
  27. 40 Year Resident
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    40 Year Resident - September 13, 2012 1:16 pm
    To be college educated doesn’t make you smart.
  28. Sad Parent
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    Sad Parent - September 13, 2012 12:46 pm
    As Parents we are responsible for what and how are kids are taught...The recess was only a start to all going wrong at this school.I think is is great that parents get involved, Look at the turn over in teachers at this school..not good. Parents have the right to been involved in there childs education,and the teachers are great at this school...just do not seem to stick around???you figure that one out HIGHEST teacher turn around ever:(that school goes through teachers like dirty socks.You are made(not really enforced)to put in fifty volunteer hours a year??be involved but dont ask Questions..IF you question Mrs Palmer and she does not agree she tells you to change schools.Not a problem solver at all..Isnt that supose to be her JOB ??the children at this school go to school til3:15 already,now no time to run and burn off a little at an unstructuared regular time of day?routine is good and some of the kids dont do well without it,Kids learn from playing (unstrutured)how to solve problems bettween themselves,much needed life skill.Recess was just the most recent issue at this school.Parents keep your eyes and ears open,these are your children.
  29. slammo
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    slammo - September 13, 2012 12:37 pm
    Don't worry. Lusd will most likely not renew their charter.Lazy and obese, but you want to take away their recess? Go to the LUSD website and see how much recess the other schools in the district get. The only reason they are doing this is because their test scores are one of the lowest in the county. They feel taking away recess will make their teachers teach better. The teachers at regular schools are getting the job done with 20 minutes of recess.They need to face it, they tried and failed. Time to give up the charter.
  30. momof5
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    momof5 - September 13, 2012 12:15 pm
    Not sure why these moms are speaking at any meeting regarding the change if their children no longer attend the school?? I have two students at the school, neither complained. I think it is a great idea!! With all the lazy and obese kids now days, I think it is awesome that the school is taking the initiative to get some type of daily physical activity for these children who later get to go home and sit in front of the TV or computer all day.
  31. Oldgod
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    Oldgod - September 13, 2012 8:37 am
    The school is a mess.

    Over half the staff was replaced last year for no reason, there are precious few teachers on the staff who have been with the school more then 1 year.

    No discipline plan so the teachers that remain have no support from administration.

    The school has no curriculum and what it does use it changes constantly.

    The main issue here is and continues to be a principle who controls every part of the school, ignores good advice from teachers, ignores parent concerns, and tells anyone who disagrees with her to leave.

    The recess debacle was just one more example of terrible administration.
  32. taicho
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    taicho - September 13, 2012 6:27 am
    Looks as though the parents are telling the school what to do.

    No experience or training is required to be a parent.

    Teachers are educated to educate and are far more likely to know what the children need. Yet they may as well talk to a wall.

    So goes life.
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