Cheri Rae Santa Barbara Local Hero
“Cheri Rae: Education Advocate” received a “Local Hero Award” from the weekly newspaper, the Santa Barbara Independent in 2012. Here is an account from the newspaper.
There’s no ignoring community activist Cheri Rae, try as many government bureaucrats may. Best known as a neighborhood preservationist, Rae has recently focused her energies on “special education,” that vast black hole of dysfunction for many students and their families.
For years, Rae struggled to help her son get the better of reading problems that had gotten the better of him. A smart and talented kid, he was reading at a 2nd-grade level in the 7th grade. That’s when Rae first learned he might have dyslexia. Tough, acerbic, and tenacious, Rae pushed, prodded, and poked school district officials to provide her son the assistance to which he and all special education students are legally entitled. After 180 hours of intensive — and expensive — training from Lindamood-Bell educational instructors, Rae’s son managed to catch up with his classmates.
“But I realized you can’t rescue people one kid at a time,” Rae said. “One in five kids has some form of dyslexia.”A freelance writer, Rae wrote about her son’s struggles in various publications, including The Santa Barbara Independent. She also lobbied the school board. With the appointment of Dr. David Cash as the school district’s new chief executive, Rae found an open set of ears. Cash and the school board approved spending $75,000 to give 35 teachers and administrators the Lindamood-Bell training that helped Rae’s son. But the intensive four-day training would take place in San Luis Obispo, meaning the cash-strapped school district would have to shell out $40,000 for food and lodging. District efforts to get the company to dispatch its trainers to Santa Barbara instead went nowhere. Then Rae got on the phone to contacts she’d developed at Lindamood-Bell. That did the trick. The training would take place in Santa Barbara, after all.
At a recent school-board meeting, Rae was thanked by name. “That doesn’t happen too often,” she said. “It’s a nice shift.”