The Golden State Hands Wooden Nickel to US Veteran

Is it possible that Biden has handed off his Chinese Communist Party owners to Gavin Newsom?  There is no other explanation for Newsom taking a money saving contract from a Veteran and secretly giving it to a Chinese firm.

“Its reward? Our Department of Public Health, despite Maclean’s superior and competitive performance, engaged in a secretive deal with a Chinese company while bypassing any semblance of a fair procurement process.  The state has effectively removed Mr. Deterding’s bread and butter in a time when the prices of both bread and butter are skyrocketing.  The move is completely unfair, both to Maclean and its employees, as well as to taxpayers!”

This looks like corruption.  It looks like Newsom wants to finance the terrorist/slave nation of China.  How is he going to explain this to people in Iowa?

The Golden State Hands Wooden Nickel to US Veteran

By Craig DeLuz, Observer,  9/28/22  

OPINION – It’s no wonder 250,000 Californians are leaving the state permanently every year for places like Texas and Arizona.  Sixty percent of moves in California beginning in 2020 were people leaving the Golden State.  California state government officials must know what the ramifications are for hemorrhaging residents—major shakeups in the housing market, demographics, and corporate presence, not to mention a greatly-reduced tax base.  This affects all of us who have chosen to stay in California despite its hostile business climate.

And yet, in the midst of all of this shakeup caused by the sudden lockdowns, government overreach, and health concerns, California’s Department of Public Health inexplicably rescinded, without warning or even an open bidding opportunity, the multi-million-dollar contract for Covid-19 test kits it had with a locally owned and operated DVBE (Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise) and California Certified Small Business. In a shadowy, secretive process, the health department awarded the contract to a large Chinese-owned company Andon Health and its subsidiary iHealth.

FINANCES FYI

Maclean Health, LLC, owned by disabled Navy veteran John Deterding, was awarded the original contract—in keeping with California’s stated policy goals.  Mr. Deterding ensured that his company was able to deliver an incredible 30,000,000 COVID test kits to the State, as well as many other types of critical health products, during one of the most challenging periods in California history in the midst of shortages and other supply chain issues.  This locally owned business was able to remain agile, pivot when necessary, and maintain a perfect delivery record with the State.  Even when prices of test kits soared, Maclean Health was able to successfully negotiate a reduced cost—saving California taxpayers millions of dollars.

Its reward? Our Department of Public Health, despite Maclean’s superior and competitive performance, engaged in a secretive deal with a Chinese company while bypassing any semblance of a fair procurement process.  The state has effectively removed Mr. Deterding’s bread and butter in a time when the prices of both bread and butter are skyrocketing.  The move is completely unfair, both to Maclean and its employees, as well as to taxpayers!

Yet, there is still time to reverse this terrible decision and the damage it will cause.  State Assemblyman Ken Cooley recognized this injustice and has urged the Governor and Department of Public Health to publicly, and satisfactorily address Maclean’s situation. The contract can be rescinded if swift action is taken. There will be a lot of other small business owners who currently contract with the state who are anxiously awaiting the outcome of that decision.

THE CAREGIVERS

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We must do everything we can to support and value our own disabled veteran-owned, California-based businesses, lest they follow the well-worn path to Texas, Florida and other business-friendly states. 

To recap: the State had no complaints about Maclean’s performance with regards to the quality of the test kits or their delivery. So, why was the contract cancelled with no warning?  This does not seem to be an issue of better pricing offered by iHealth because the state refuses to release cost data so what is really going on?  This sure smells like product dumping at the end of the pandemic.  In fact, Ihealth donated test kits right before the contract terms were changed, but there was no mention of the donated product’s expiration date in their press release.  The parent company has made a fortune selling into US markets, and now appears to want to wring out every last drop of profit on the way out of the pandemic no matter the effect on small business.

Every month in California, at least six business headquarters leave the state and set up shop elsewhere.  Elected officials had better be paying attention.  This could completely decimate our state that is already in a deficit of nearly 3 million residents since 2000.

As one who works with and is related to many who have served our country via military service, I find this to be outrageous. Giving a sizable taxpayer-funded contract to a large company based in a hostile foreign country quietly says a lot about the government that made the decision to do so. That in so doing, the State took away a hardworking, disabled American veteran’s bread and butter adds insult to what appears to be a very intentional injury—one who served his country, followed the rules, and had a perfect record of past performance. 

If this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.  We demand to know who and what is driving this decision to hand a wooden nickel to one of our nation’s finest.  Californians deserve to know.

Craig has more than 25 years as a political activist and media commentator in The Greater Sacramento Region.

The Right To Read: It took a lawsuit against California

Gavin Newsom claims to be for education of minorities.  Tony Thurmond, the Superintendent of Public Instruction once led the Richmond School District into failure and bankruptcy.  Yet it took a lawsuit to get Sacramento to help 70 schools district that have mostly illiterate students.

“While some might blame teachers or schools for such woeful reading skills, the attorneys who represented these children in the groundbreaking 2017 lawsuit known as the Ella T. case blamed the state of California. They argued that the state had long known of the literacy crisis, and its grim impact on the lives of children, but had done little to solve it, essentially denying these children their civil right to literacy under the state constitution.

“Tragically, the state of California fought us,” said Mark Rosenbaum, lead counsel on the case. “They blamed the kids as opposed to the system itself.”

This is prrof Democrats hate poor and minority kids—while claiming others are to blame.

The Right To Read: It took a lawsuit against California

The result is a three-year program to improve literacy for 70 high-poverty schools with the lowest test scores.

KAREN D’SOUZA, EdSOurce,  9/29/22  h

An 11-year-old boy writing a fifth-grade book report on “The Cat in the Hat,” a book meant for kindergartners. A second-grade girl stuck at a preschool reading level. Students who break down in tears when asked to read aloud in class.

While some might blame teachers or schools for such woeful reading skills, the attorneys who represented these children in the groundbreaking 2017 lawsuit known as the Ella T. case blamed the state of California. They argued that the state had long known of the literacy crisis, and its grim impact on the lives of children, but had done little to solve it, essentially denying these children their civil right to literacy under the state constitution.

“Tragically, the state of California fought us,” said Mark Rosenbaum, lead counsel on the case. “They blamed the kids as opposed to the system itself.”

The state eventually agreed to a 2020 settlement that created $50 million in Early Literacy Support Block (ELSB) grants for 75 of the state’s lowest-performing schools, those with the lowest scores on Smarter Balanced tests administered in the spring of 2019. At some of these high-poverty California schools, fewer than 10% of the children were reading at grade level.

Despite the literacy crisis, California has yet to embrace a comprehensive strategy that will get all students statewide reading by third grade. While California Department of Education officials are tracking outcomes in the block grant schools to inform their “legislative analysis of bills,” there appear to be no plans to use the data to shape a statewide literacy push.

CALIFORNIA’S READING DILEMMA

Some are skeptical that the state will use the results to craft the kind of deep and nuanced statewide policy that the literacy crisis demands. Patchwork solutions leave too much to chance, some fear, amid mounting evidence of the need for urgent reform.

“We have 1,000 school districts, each with its own leadership,” said Todd Collins, a Palo Alto school board member and an organizer of the California Reading Coalition, a literacy advocacy group. “If we have a statewide reading problem, it will be very hard to get all, or even most of them, to make it a sustained priority, unless state leaders make a major statewide push, and keep it, for years. We need to get moving as a state, not 1,000 disconnected districts.”

Advocates for literacy reform in California have high hopes that the block grant schools could become a kind of model for the rest of the state as it rethinks reading instruction. If the lowest performing schools can pull this off during the worst time period for American education amid a pandemic, some say, this is proof positive, especially since research shows that reading problems cut across all socioeconomic groups.

“This is a proven model for the state. So why wouldn’t you jump on it? Why wouldn’t you expand it, refine it and make sure every kid gets a chance to learn to read,” said Rosenbaum.

Others take a more measured stance, citing the potential for missteps.

“It’s a phenomenal opportunity, but there are so many points of failure for the schools and the state to mess it up,” said Jessica Reid Sliwerski, a literacy expert and founder of Open Up Resources, a nonprofit that offers accessible curricula. “Sadly, I have very little confidence.”

A literacy experiment

In an era of deepening economic inequality and widening achievement gaps, many see literacy as an issue of equity, the baseline in a functioning democracy.

Rosenbaum views the block grant program as a wide-ranging literacy experiment, an ongoing test case in how best to teach reading in the early grades, TK-3, that may hold lessons for the rest of California. It is a microcosm of the myriad challenges facing the state as a whole, from the lack of consistency created by local control policies, to the stresses of poverty, the pandemic and teacher burnout.

One of the richest states in the nation, California is nevertheless a place where less than half of all third graders scored at grade level in 2019, before the pandemic derailed schooling. The numbers are even more dismal for children of color, with two-thirds of Black children and 61% of Latino children unable to read at grade level.

School closures took a heavy toll on test scores, especially among vulnerable students, fueling the largest decline in 30 years on the National Assessment for Educational Progress, or NAEP, dubbed “the nation’s report card.” California schools were among the last in the nation to bring students back to campus.

“These results show that this gap widened further during the pandemic,” said Martin West, a member of the NAEP governing board and dean at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. “Supporting the academic recovery of lower-performing students should be a top priority for educators and policymakers nationwide.”

BREAKING DOWN A WAR OF WORDS: A GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Phonics instruction teaches the relationships between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language, correlating sounds with letters to sound out the word on the page.  

Phonemic awareness is the ability to detect, identify and manipulate phonemes, a distinct unit of sound, in spoken words. It is one component of phonological awareness, an umbrella term that includes the awareness of the larger parts of spoken language, such as words and syllables, as well as smaller parts such as phonemes.   

Balanced literacy, a variation of the whole-language approach that emphasizes exploring literature organically but includes the explicit instruction of phonics in small doses.

Science of reading is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically based research about reading that includes the five fundamental pillars: phonics (connecting letters to sounds,) phonemic awareness (identifying distinct units of sound,) fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Decoding means translating a printed word to speech and identifying unfamiliar words by sounding them out. This is a foundation of phonics instruction.

Three-cueing uses context such as pictures and syntax to guess the meaning of words that a student is stumbling on. It is urged primarily in balanced literacy and has become a focus of controversy.

Structured literacy emphasizes the highly explicit and systematic teaching of all important components of literacy including foundational skills (phonics, spelling) and higher-level literacy skills (reading comprehension). The origins of this phonics-based approach go back to the 1920s, when Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham created a program that was systematic, explicit and highly structured, known as the Orton-Gillingham method, to reach struggling readers.

Closing the equity gap

Closing that equity gap is the mission of the block grant. While it is still early days for this herculean effort to teach 15,000 students at the state’s lowest-scoring schools how to read, organizers say the three-year project has logged some promising preliminary results at the one-year mark.

Bear in mind that Covid learning loss is layered on top of pre-existing conditions such as insufficient teacher training, shoddy curriculum, incoherent assessments, high staff turnover and tight budgets that plague many high-poverty schools.

At some of these schools, all the students in the early grades scored so low on initial reading assessments that they needed interventions. Turning the tide will not come easily. 

“We have made significant gains in student growth, building teacher knowledge, and building the instructional leadership capacity,” said Becky Sullivan, the literacy expert at the Sacramento County Office of Education who is overseeing the block grant program. “We are not yet where we want to be in terms of achievement, so we are celebrating these wins and moving forward into our next year of implementation.” 

While 75 schools qualified, some closed, leaving 70 in the three-year effort to reform their early reading instruction under Sullivan’s guidance. She is a proponent of the science of reading and structured literacy, an approach that’s more methodical in its reading fundamentals, such as phonics and vocabulary, than balanced literacy, a commonly used approach.

The long-waged battle between these instructional philosophies, while unknown to most parents and caregivers, has been described as “the reading wars.” For the record, in keeping with the state’s local control policies, the schools in this project are free to choose whichever approach to curriculum and assessments they think best suits their needs.

Sullivan and her team provide ongoing training, coaching and guidance but no dictates. That freedom means there are often conflicting approaches used within a single district, which echoes the local control ethos of the state as a whole.

“They’re not being told what to do,” she said. “We are providing guideposts for them, and they are making good decisions with the information they’re learning.” 

Turning what has long been known about how children learn and how the brain works into useful classroom practice is the key. Phonics and other reading fundamentals help rewire the circuitry of the brain, experts say, forging roads between the parts of the brain that interpret what we see and what we hear.  Without these critical pathways, children often struggle connecting letters to sounds.

Despite an extensive body of research, and the fact that the science of reading is now ascendant in many circles, many teachers believe that most children will learn by osmosis in a print-rich environment. This is not the case, experts say.

A learning gap for teachers

“We knew they were going to need a lot of professional development because one of the issues out there is a knowledge gap,” said Sullivan. “How students learn how to read is settled science, but we have a gap between the science and the implementation of that knowledge.”

That’s why many of the schools are using their grants to pay for literacy coaches, teacher assistants, teacher training, and instructional materials targeted at the early grades, TK-3. Teachers and administrators are undergoing multiple types of ongoing education, from access to literacy coaches and classes in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, or LTRS, and online training in the science of reading through the Online Elementary Reading Academy.

Third grade is a critical time for learning. The rule of thumb is that around third grade children should switch from learning to read to reading to learn.

If children can’t make that leap in time, research suggests, they quickly fall behind in all subjects, from science and history to math. Children who can’t read well by third grade are also more likely to drop out of school, data shows. That means the stakes are high, particularly in a state that fails to teach half of its students to read.

“If half the kids can’t read without paying for outside tutors, you don’t have an intervention problem,” said Kareem Weaver, member of the Oakland NAACP Education Committee and co-founder of the literacy advocacy group FULCRUM, “you have a core instruction problem.”

For the record, state testing doesn’t begin until third grade, which partly explains why struggling readers often fly under the radar until then. 

Many experts would place the reading benchmark much earlier than third grade. Sullivan targets the end of first grade, which gives teachers only two years, kindergarten and first grade, to get children up to speed.  They have to move fast.

“If you want to move the needle, you’ve got to have a laser focus on those fundamental skills,” said Julie McCalmont, coordinator of Expanded Learning Programs at Oakland Unified. 

Last year, at Ethel I. Baker Elementary in Sacramento, a fourth grade boy was in danger of being held back because he was reading at a kindergarten level, but the new literacy push has already helped him move up two reading levels in one year.

“Most or all of our students are making progress,” said principal Nathan McGill whose school is one of seven block grant schools in Sacramento County. “What is surprising and encouraging is that it’s not just reading that is improving.” They are also seeing improvements in listening and speaking even among students who are learning English. 

Breaking down the words

During a reading lesson at Nystrom Elementary in Richmond, one of seven block grant schools in West Contra Costa Unified School District, a group of third-graders huddled around teacher Dylan Fairweather, sounding out words she pointed to like “next, N-ext” and “choice, Ch-oice.”

The school saw a 15% bump over the last school year in the number of K-3 students reading at or above grade level and a 17% decrease in the number of K-3 students who needed “intensive support.”

Make no mistake, these gains have been hard won. The first step has been defining the causes of their low reading scores and proposing solutions in a literacy action plan.

“Increasing reading achievement takes time as it’s about systemic change,” said Sullivan. “There is no magic, overnight bullet. The ELSB schools are seeing growth on their early literacy indicators and heading in the right direction. They need to stay focused.”

For Lorraine Zapata, the principal at Joshua Elementary in Lancaster, the grant has been a godsend, giving her the resources to better train her teachers. Joshua, like Nystrom, switched from balanced to structured literacy, a strategy that emphasizes fundamentals such as phonics and vocabulary, as part of this project.

Kids excited to learn

“The biggest challenge is breaking through misconceptions around the science of reading,” said Leslie Zoroya, project director at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. “There is this notion that it is only about phonics and drill-and-kill boredom for kids. That is in no way true. We see amazing things in our classrooms, kids excited about learning to read, singing, laughing, dancing.”

That’s why Briana Hernandez, a second-grade teacher at Oakland’s Acorn Woodland Elementary while teaching in a summer literacy hub, illustrated how to keep her lessons light and fun. (Acorn draws from several block grant schools.) She often has children sit in a circle and sing a song before they read words on flash cards. The goal is to instill a sense of joy in reading.

“You really need to know your students and know what they need and then you need a lot of different strategies in your pocket so you can pull them as you need them,” said Hernandez. “I need to keep them engaged so they can see that reading is fun.”

Choosing the correct curriculum and training the teachers is half the battle. But making sure the school’s literacy plan is nimble, and shifting to meet student needs, can be harder than it sounds. Many of these schools organize literacy classes by reading level instead of by grade, for instance, and move students up or down as needed.

Many of the block grant schools also have a high number of bilingual students. Flexibility is crucial.

“There is not a one-size-fits-all curriculum,” says Sullivan. “You have to think about the needs of your students in your district. Sometimes you have to supplement. You have to look at your data and you have to make adjustments as you go, so you’re trending in the right direction.” That’s what Sullivan helps them to do.

Needs of English learners

English language learners have specific needs that Rosa Diaz, a literacy tutor at Acorn, knows all too well. She wishes she had phonics lessons when she was a child.

“My parents didn’t speak English. I had teachers who didn’t speak Spanish. I had to do it all on my own,” said Diaz, her voice thick with emotion. “It was very difficult.”

At Acorn, she helped small groups of children sound out the words in a sentence and then write them down during short lessons. The little girl in one group focused on the work while one of the little boys just listened. Diaz checked their whiteboards one by one, making sure they learned the correct spellings of hard words like chair. Blended sounds are a common hurdle for bilingual children, she noted.

“You need a lot of support as you move from Spanish to English,” said Diaz, “which is something I didn’t have growing up.”

Nearly half of the students at Sacramento’s Baker Elementary are also English learners and all were eligible for free-and reduced-priced lunches last school year. After a year of daily 45-minute phonics and phonemics exercises, one class of third and fourth graders progressed from a second-grade level to a third-grade level.

“It’s fast. It’s at their level. It’s approachable,” said teacher Jennifer Dare Sparks of the curriculum. “We are giving them the support they need to learn, so they are comfortable learning.” 

Getting all the administrators on board is also critical. 

“Principals need to understand the research and best practices so they can ensure that teachers are doing what they should be doing,” said Zoroya. “An entire system needs to be built around the instruction. In order to sustain the work, the system needs to run despite staff coming and going.” 

Enthusiasm is also key to success, experts say. Reading has to be a value within daily life that parents model for children at home, leading some principals to plan for family literacy nights.

“The biggest surprise has been our students. They are so excited about learning to read,” said Zapata. “Their enthusiasm is why we must address their needs through the science of reading. The brain pathways must be developed regardless of the economic status of our learners. We are on our way.”

A solvable crisis

From a wider lens, some fear that the reading wars will continue to sabotage progress in most California classrooms. Change has already been far too long coming, they say. Learning from the journey of the block grant schools could be the first step, they say.

“After all these years, finally the debate is coming back to where it should be and what a lot of us were talking about in 2000,” said Ruth Green, former president of the California State Board of Education. “This is a solvable crisis. We need leadership from the state legislators, state superintendent and the State Board of Education all pulling in the same direction.”

New desalination plant proposed for SLO County

Wow!  The government leaders in San Luis Obispo want to build a desalinization plant—and it is needed.  Guess they are so far from reality and civilization that they do not know the environments whackos, in the community and on the staff of government agencies will not allow it. Only a couple have been built and about ten have been denied.  So, let the good folks spend millions on staff time, surveys and lobbyists—then find out it was all wasted.

“ The San Luis Obispo county public works department is kicking off a project that aims to bring large-scale desalinization to the Central Coast to supplement our water supply long term. While the plan is just in its starting phases the next steps are already laid out.

The Central Coast relies on a combination of rainfall, reservoirs, and groundwater to fulfill our water needs but as droughts and water insecurities continue to increase the county is planning for another source of water, this time from our ocean.”

This project is needed.  But if completed it will take decades and a change in attitude in Sacramento.  They need a Plan B.

  •  

New desalination plant proposed for SLO County

By: Vivian Rennie, KSBY,   9/28/22

The words “drought-proof water supply” almost sound too good to be true, but there is a proposal in the works on the Central Coast for a water supply that does not rely on rain.

The San Luis Obispo county public works department is kicking off a project that aims to bring large-scale desalinization to the Central Coast to supplement our water supply long term. While the plan is just in its starting phases the next steps are already laid out.

The Central Coast relies on a combination of rainfall, reservoirs, and groundwater to fulfill our water needs but as droughts and water insecurities continue to increase the county is planning for another source of water, this time from our ocean.

Courtney Howard, the San Luis Obispo County Public Works water resources division manager told us why this is something they are looking into. “With the changes, we’re seeing and the rainfall patterns, we are looking for a drought-proof supply.”

Part of the solution may be desalination, an energy-intensive process that takes salt water from our oceans and removes the salt through distillation eventually producing fresh water and salty brine.

Jacopo Buongiorno from the MIT Nuclear and Engineering department has worked on projects surrounding desalination on the Central Coast. He told us, “the ability to desalinate water and use that fresh water for agriculture or residential or even replenishing the aquifer would be certainly a positive a positive development.”

In San Luis Obispo County, 88 percent of our water comes from groundwater sources, 10 percent from reservoirs and lakes, and the remainder from the state water project and recycled water.

Howard continued, “we see a lot of competition with our watersheds and groundwater basins and all who depend on that rainfall. And if those rainfall amounts are not filling our reservoirs and our groundwater basins like it has in the past, then we need to look at another source of supply so we can relieve some of that pressure on those systems”

The public works team will be taking a recommendation to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors in October to begin the planning process for a county desalination plant.

Bungiornio explained that this, even at the quickest timeline will be a long-term project. “Naturally, that would not be very near-term. It would be a little bit longer term because it does entail the construction of a desalination plant on site that at the moment does not exist.”

The timeline of this proposal is long-term. Here is a look at the proposed “Path to Desalination”

Before the county can build or repurpose a desalination plant it must create partnerships with other water districts, evaluate locations, create a budget, and compile input from the public.

Howard continued, “we think it’ll take a while to get all of that information gathered and vetted. So probably in about ten years, 5 to 10 years in that time frame. So there will be a lot of different tracks to evaluate, you know, sitting technology partnerships. And so we’ll have public meetings to get input along the way.”

Potential distribution, emergency plans, technology improvements, and currently available locations are all being considered. Once the plan is approved the board can move on to acquiring specialty engineers and consultants.

Howard explained, “I think it’s important to get started now, and we’re going to have a lot of opportunities for public engagement, and we encourage folks to get involved and send us their thoughts and concerns so that we can make sure we consider them as we go along.”

The public is invited to share their opinions about the plan on October 18th at the county supervisor’s meeting.

Roseville given $13-million federal grant for electric buses

I thought the people in Placer County had more smarts than this.  Roseville has taken $13 million to buy electric buses.  Today the price for electricity is good.  But, the cost has been going up 10-20% a year, in a few years the cost will be prohibitive.  Oh, and the fact that due to the Democrat policy of killing off sources of electricity, there might not be enough energy for jobs and the buses.  This is a disaster waiting to happen.

“Roseville Transit will use the grant to continue transitioning its bus fleet from gas and diesel-powered vehicles to zero-emission electric vehicles, city officials said

The transit agency will purchase 15 new electric buses — seven commuter buses and eight Dial-A-Ride buses — along with necessary charging equipment. City officials said part of the funding will also be used to train employees on how to operate and maintain new clean bus technology. “

Wait for the first major limitations on use of electricity and see how far you can go?

Roseville given $13-million federal grant for electric buses

Photo courtesy of lydiashiningbrightly, flickr

 Claire Morgan, Capitol Public Radio,  9/27/22  

Roseville residents may soon see more electric buses on the road, thanks in part to a $13.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

Roseville Transit will use the grant to continue transitioning its bus fleet from gas and diesel-powered vehicles to zero-emission electric vehicles, city officials said

The transit agency will purchase 15 new electric buses — seven commuter buses and eight Dial-A-Ride buses — along with necessary charging equipment. City officials said part of the funding will also be used to train employees on how to operate and maintain new clean bus technology. 

“We are incredibly excited about this grant and the opportunity to continue advancing our fleet to zero-emission standards while providing an affordable and convenient transportation option to our residents,” said Roseville’s Alternative Transportation Division Manager Ed Scofield in a prepared release on Tuesday.

The city started building a $4.5 million bus charging facility at the Roseville City Corporation Yard earlier this year. City officials said the project is expected to be finished by the end of 2022.

In August 2021, city officials approved the purchase of five electric commuter buses, marking Roseville’s first step toward transitioning to a fully-electric bus fleet. The city currently has 41 diesel and gas powered buses.

In 2018, the California Air Resource Board approved regulation mandating all public transit agencies in the state transition to using a fully-electric fleet of vehicles by 2040.

The FTA awarded more than $1.5 billion to 150 transit agencies across the nation. FTA officials said funding for these grants was approved by the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The city of Fairfield was awarded more than $12 million to buy zero-emission electric buses and charging equipment. Fairfield transit officials will also use a portion of that funding to “upgrade its maintenance facility to support the operation of battery electric buses,” FTA records say.

San Joaquin Regional Transit District was also awarded more than $3 million to buy hybrid electric buses to help expand service in the Stockton area, “including in areas that suffer from higher levels of air pollution,” according to FTA records. 

Though it was not included in this round of FTA funding, Sacramento Regional Transit is also working toward phasing out its gas and diesel-powered buses. 

In 2020, SacRT and Yolobus partnered to purchase a fleet of electric buses and re-launched the Causeway Connection, a bus route that connects Davis and Sacramento. The route now only uses electric-powered buses, according to SacRT. The agency re-launched its Airport Express Service in 2021, which also exclusively uses electric-powered buses. 

Earlier this year, SacRT approved its Zero-Emission Bus Rollout Plan, which lays out a timeline for the agency to transition to a fully-electric fleet of vehicles. 

Caltrain goes electric

How crazy are the folks in the Bay Area?  At a time, there is a severe limit on electricity and you are asked not to recharge your car during several hours, these folks are moving the CalTrain system to all electric.

“Caltrain introduced the agency’s new electric fleet at its station on Fourth Street at an event for reporters, employees and agency directors. After speeches from officials including Congresswomen Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo and California Senator Scott Wiener, attendees got a chance to climb aboard and check out one of the two trains on display.

Throughout the speeches, speakers emphasized the environmentally sustainable nature of the new trains, which are scheduled to go into operation in 2024.

Not mentioned is the rising cost of electricity.  Nor did they mention that in a time of earthquakes, there would be no power to move the trains?  This is an expensive publicity stunt—which will harm everybody in the Bay Area.  If CalTrain operated in Tampa Bay it would be weeks or months before a train would move.  Sick folks abusing all of us. 

Caltrain goes electric

By Bay City News, 9/25/22     

The future ride to work for thousands of Bay Area commuters was unveiled in San Francisco Saturday — and though the new Caltrain trains bear the agency’s familiar red logo, these new electric trains are definitely green.

Caltrain introduced the agency’s new electric fleet at its station on Fourth Street at an event for reporters, employees and agency directors. After speeches from officials including Congresswomen Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo and California Senator Scott Wiener, attendees got a chance to climb aboard and check out one of the two trains on display.

Throughout the speeches, speakers emphasized the environmentally sustainable nature of the new trains, which are scheduled to go into operation in 2024.

“All aboard for climate champions!” said Speier, adding, “These trains will take 15,000 cars off the road per day. We will see a reduction of 97 percent of carbon dioxide as a result of electrifying these trains.”

The electric trains replace diesel locomotives and are expected to reduce Caltrain’s greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate the particulate matter caused by the aging diesel engines. The new trains will produce substantial reductions in corridor air pollution emissions compared with diesel locomotives, according to Caltrain.

Describing the trains as “faster, quieter, cleaner,” Eshoo, who was the first speaker said, “This is the most innovative region in the country. It deserves a 21st century transportation system.”

Caltrain Board Chair Steve Heminger lauded what he described as “trains with essentially no emissions.”

After the speeches, the assembled crowd explored one of the two trains on display. The attendees got a close look at different types of train cars: standard, bike and bathroom car.

The train still had that new car smell, and its interior was immaculate, as no passengers have yet had the chance to spill their smoothies or kale chips on the floor.

New amenities include digital onboard displays, power outlets at each forward-facing seat, a new seat color palette selected by the public, energy-efficient lighting, coat hooks, security cameras, and expanded storage under the seats.

Creating the new system generated around 33,000 jobs around the country, according to speakers including John Putnam, general counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The trains were built in Salt Lake City, Utah, tested in Pueblo, Colorado and then delivered to San Jose.

“Building new, sustainable transportation projects is a key priority of the Biden administration,” Putnam said.  

Is SF Muni in a Catch-22 around service delays and hiring?

In an era of low unemployment due to government paying people not to work, is it any wonder folks are not running to the SF Muni for jobs?

“Muni hired 36 operators in August and 35 in September, and plans to hire new classes of operators in October, November and December. That’s an improvement, though it would still ensure an operator shortage for the foreseeable future.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to add service as quickly as we had hoped because of our severe transit operator shortage and because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which we are currently recovering from,” Erica Kato, an SFMTA spokesperson, wrote in an email to The Examiner. “We are adding more service as soon as we can and are doing everything in our power to hire more transit operators and other transit staff to make that possible.”

I do not understand the rush.  In fact folks are fleeing the city, businesses are leaving and almost half refuse to go to the office.  Why is the Muni expanding when the number of potential riders is declining?  Just another union scam to hire people that pay bribes—and then complain about the lack of riders.

Is Muni in a Catch-22 around service delays and hiring?

San Franciscans can debate whether Muni service should be expanded and extended for as long as it takes to ride the 29 bus from Bayview to the Presidio. But that discussion may be moot until there are enough people to operate, clean and repair its vast fleet.

Muni is looking to fill more than 300 operator vacancies, according to its website, more than 10% of its total driving staff.

To accomplish this hiring spree, the SFMTA says it aims to make becoming a Muni operator a faster and simpler process. The agency is hiring at a faster clip than during the depths of the pandemic. Yet, at the current rate according to data provided by SFMTA, it would still take months or even years to fill its operator vacancies.

Muni hired 36 operators in August and 35 in September, and plans to hire new classes of operators in October, November and December. That’s an improvement, though it would still ensure an operator shortage for the foreseeable future.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to add service as quickly as we had hoped because of our severe transit operator shortage and because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which we are currently recovering from,” Erica Kato, an SFMTA spokesperson, wrote in an email to The Examiner. “We are adding more service as soon as we can and are doing everything in our power to hire more transit operators and other transit staff to make that possible.”

SFMTA is hardly the only city agency to struggle with a shortage of workers. The Police Department told city leaders it is short hundreds of officers, and city leaders responded this year by including money in the budget for officer retention and hiring bonuses.

There was no such incentive funded for Muni operators, transit advocates have noted.

“SF’s mayor will use ‘operator shortage’ to dismiss questions about bus service restoration, as if it’s an immutable force,” tweeted transit advocate Chris Arvin, who published a chart of cuts to nighttime Muni service. “But for cops? Her latest update boasts funding for recruitment and retention bonuses to address a supposed officer shortage. Where is this for bus drivers?”

Incentives gap for drivers, ridersSFMTA told The Examiner it has considered offering hiring incentives for new operators, but provided no additional detail.

Transport Workers Union Local 250A, the union that represents Muni operators, alleges that the agency shot itself in the foot by not compensating for attrition — employees retiring, quitting and being fired — during the pandemic.

Kato points out that there wasn’t a hiring freeze for positions like operators and mechanics, which are critical to Muni’s basic functioning, but “There were, however, training delays and an impact on our ability to put together operator training classes during the pandemic,” Kato said.

Some transit advocates worry that failing to expand service incentivizes people to choose alternatives. If the N Owl bus is coming only every 30 minutes, why wait for it if you can afford an alternative?

“If ridership is low, it’s because the service is unfortunately not here, or if it is there, then the service is packed… It’s dirty, it’s not sanitized, it’s not reliable,” said Roger Marenco, president of the Transport Workers Union local. “The public is saying, ‘I’m just going to get in an Uber.’”

More Uber riders means less transit revenue for Muni, an agency with well-documented financial challenges.

Those dissatisfied with the service, or who choose not to use it, might also be less likely to support transit projects. That Proposition A, a $400 million bond to support Muni, narrowly failed earlier this year may not be surprising given that Muni has seen increasingly poor satisfaction from riders.

Muni’s annual customer satisfaction survey found just 57% of customers content with the service in 2021, the fifth consecutive year of flat or decreasing satisfaction.

Speed key to hiring spiral

To work its way out of this spiral, Muni has to hire more operators. It’s a process that is complicated and could take more than a year during the doldrums of the pandemic.

But to prospective candidates and Muni, speed matters. The longer a candidate has to wait to get behind the wheel, the more likely they are to take a job elsewhere.

The hiring process for an interested candidate includes taking a civil service examination, a background check, a medical exam, a drug screening, submitting proof of a clean (or clean enough) driving record, and obtaining and proving possession of a commercial learner’s permit. That permit is good only for six months, meaning a prospective operator will have to continually renew it while awaiting Muni’s call.

After those hurdles, there’s a nine-week paid training program followed by a test to become an operator.

Muni has made some adjustments. For example, it replaced an in-person multiple choice exam with a take-home training and experience exam.

The agency is now ranking candidates based on their training and experience, including the type of license they possess when they apply. Under an emergency declaration, the agency has also been able to fast-track people into operator classes who already have the necessary license.

These changes are having a noticeable effect on Muni.

“When we have new operator availability, there are fewer missed runs, and you can feel that as an operator in the most visceral way,” said MC “Mack” Allen, a relatively new operator. “When you’re driving, and you’re missing a leader, that’s a very challenging situation because you end up doing twice as much work, (and) it’s harder to stay on time.”

Muni has long scheduled more work than it can reliably fill, relying on overtime shifts to make up the difference, Allen said.

Allen decided to become an operator after spending 2018 traversing every Muni line from end to end.

“We spent a lot of time waiting for buses,” Allen said. “You don’t even have to scratch very deep in the surface at all to understand operator availability is the problem.”

The hiring process has been a bottleneck, but a significant part of the problem is simply attracting enough applicants.

“Our HR dept has launched marketing campaigns and has participated in countless recruiting fairs and hiring events to market us as an employer,” Kato said.

One way to attract operators is with money. Muni did that, to some extent, in the contract agreement it reached with the transit workers union in 2019.

Morenco noted that the wage progression was reduced from 48 months to 36 months, meaning operators receive the maximum pay of $42.31 per hour after three years of service instead of four.

But right now, Muni only has so much money to spend.

The agency is heavily reliant on the $1.3 billion in federal COVID-19 aid it received during the pandemic. There’s no guarantee it will be able to replace that money when it runs out.

Despite the potentially ominous financial forecast, there are reasons for optimism. Some of Muni’s lines, like the 22 Fillmore, are surging beyond pre-pandemic ridership. Ridership citywide is still well below pre-pandemic levels, but has steadily increased throughout 2022 aside from a two-month lull in the summer.

To match that demand, Muni will need to bring on more drivers like Allen, who says he has no regrets about joining the agency.

“When I get home at the end of the day, I’m like ‘All those people got where they were going because of me,’ and it feels just great,” Allen said.

 

Is Orange County Gutting Local Homeless Resources Needed by CARE Court?

Guv Nuisance has decided that each county must have a CAR Court, to help the mentally ill.  Of course he does not provide money for this.  This, in Orange County money already allocated for assistance, housing and job training must go to this “court”.  The OC is refusing—if the Guv wants this, let him pay for it.

“County officials say they have most of what they need to handle CARE Court’s main population: People with severe mental illnesses.

“People who might just need a shower – that’s not what this was intended for,” said Dr. Veronica Kelley, chief of Mental Health and Recovery Services at the OC Health Care Agency, in a phone interview.

But there are questions of why some OC cities would push out existing places that don’t exclusively serve the mental health population, but still offer resources that CARE Court patients could rely on like food, showers and clothing. 

Let alone the remaining homeless people on the streets.”

Once again. Newsom is looking for a headline, not a solution.

Is Orange County Gutting Local Homeless Resources Needed by CARE Court?

BY BRANDON PHO, Voice of Orange County,   9/28/22    

A jobseeker looking to clean up.

A woman whose husband tried to kill her.

Those are the types of people who found solace, pre-pandemic, at a South Main Street homeless service center in some cases every day of the week in Santa Ana.

And later wrote about it in sworn court declarations. 

The center’s one of several homeless service providers throughout Orange County – like Micah’s Way, the Harm Reduction Institute and Mary’s Kitchen – getting pushed out by local city officials over public nuisance complaints.

They represent one side of the homelessness debate that views direct assistance and basic needs as crucial to helping people recover their lives – and with full autonomy. 

That seemed to jive less and less with local officials over the years, seeing these sites draw visible homeless presence, in favor of what some consider a new rallying point: Court-ordered mental health treatment.

It’s called CARE Court, and it seeks to put people with critical mental health issues into court-ordered treatment plans for up to two years before they deteriorate or commit crimes.  

The system relies on community-based treatment resources to help people along the program. 

It also responds to noncompliance by referring people without sound self-decision-making ability for conservatorships. 

County officials say they have most of what they need to handle CARE Court’s main population: People with severe mental illnesses.

“People who might just need a shower – that’s not what this was intended for,” said Dr. Veronica Kelley, chief of Mental Health and Recovery Services at the OC Health Care Agency, in a phone interview.

But there are questions of why some OC cities would push out existing places that don’t exclusively serve the mental health population, but still offer resources that CARE Court patients could rely on like food, showers and clothing. 

Let alone the remaining homeless people on the streets.

All while critics say CARE Court doesn’t guarantee permanent housing.

OC officials have jumped to the front of CARE Court’s rollout, one of six other counties that volunteered to pilot the system over the next year.

Lawmakers say that treatment currently only happens after homeless people get arrested.

County officials say the new Be Well OC mental health treatment center in Orange is one way of handling CARE Court’s expected demands.

“Be Well is one of our signature service delivery campuses here in the county, and it has different levels of care in it,” Kelley said.

That includes psychiatric urgent care and residential facilities where people can get treatment for 90 days. 

“So the campus just gives us all those in one place … we could assist them if they have a mental illness and in finding perhaps some permanent supportive housing, which might be more difficult because they have medical issues with their mental illness.”

The new statewide policy direction, and local cities’ move to push out service providers they oppose, have some questioning what might happen to everyone else. 

The ‘Only’ Solution? 

The new treatment plan is highly controversial, rattling the nerves of disability rights advocates who see the new program as a step backward.

In the long run, they say the plan guarantees no housing but empowers courts to warehouse people in shelters, or place them in conservatorships if they lack sound decision-making ability and refuse to comply.

Among the critics are Lili Graham, an attorney with Disability Rights California who makes several observations, among them that state lawmakers seem to have marketed CARE Court “as the only solution to homelessness.”

CARE Court proponents say it isn’t exclusive to homeless people or intended for all of them. 

Rather, the new law’s authors say it’s for those with severe mental health and substance abuse issues in general – people on the pathway to homelessness, who might get diverted with the right checkpoint, like mental health or drug rehab programs.

Graham says CARE Court’s not the only way, and points to the homeless services center on South Main Street, run by the Mental Health Association of OC. 

“That center is a long-held best practices to solve homelessness and has been successful for thousands of people,” Graham said in an interview.

When you can’t take a shower, “something breaks down inside of you,” wrote 39-year-old Lunyea Willis in a sworn court filing two years ago, which supported the South Main Street center in a lawsuit with Santa Ana.

“Not being able to maintain a professional image and look clean shattered [my] confidence. I felt broken. I was selling people food all day, but I was hungry,” her declaration reads. 

The hardship, Willis said, eventually drew her to South Main Street, where she said she got mental health treatment, personal hygiene assistance, educational and support groups, and help to build daily life skills.

“When it was open, I went to the center seven days a week,” reads Willis’ court declaration. 

Then, after about 20 years of operation, the center closed in 2020 amidst a lawsuit by Santa Ana officials and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tired of Bearing the Burden

“MHA has been the source of consistent and significant problems, crimes, complaints, and calls for service for the Santa Ana Police Department,” reads a complaint officials filed against the Association in January 2020, in an ongoing case.

In the complaint, city officials argued “the nuisance operations” of the center “extended” to nearby businesses and neighborhoods leading up to the end of the 2010s. 

They argued that from 2017 to 2019, SAPD received more than 249 calls for service at the property and involving its clients, relating the calls for service to a “wide variety of criminal conduct.”

The city’s lawsuit factored into a larger effort to bring awareness to Santa Ana’s unwilling role as a “dumping ground” for OC’s homeless population – and its disproportionate burden of building shelters and developing homeless services compared to wealthier cities in south county. 

As the seat of county government, Santa Ana’s where the county jails are, and thus is where people are released. It’s also home to the county Social Services Agency office.

The city’s anti-dumping ground effort continued when it targeted the Harm Reduction Institute, a voluntary homeless addiction treatment center in town which distributed naloxone, clean syringes, and counseling

The center closed at the start of this year, after the city revoked its permit.

The city also faces a legal threat from Micah’s Way, an all-volunteer and Christian nonprofit resource center which helps provides family services, identification and birth certificates, as well as bus passes, food, and toiletries. 

The resource center also provides a mailing address for more than 1,000 people who otherwise wouldn’t have one, said Micah’s Way’s president, Vaskin Koshkerian, who adds the center’s been doing local officials’ job for them. 

“A lot of police from the cities, they bring people here for help. People tell me they would be stealing, doing a lot of stuff if it wasn’t for Micah’s Way,” Koshkerian said in a phone interview. 

But the place’s fate is in mediation. 

In June the city denied the center’s Certificate of Occupancy application for the new space it moved to on 4th Street from 17th, saying that feeding homeless people violated zoning laws.

Micah’s Way appealed and it’s an ongoing administrative dispute. 

Most recently a retired judge acting as a hearing officer told Santa Ana to consider less restrictive ways – other than flat out denying the center’s occupancy application – of limiting the site’s land use to to reduce the facility’s adverse impacts to the surrounding neighborhood, citing protections under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act

Requests for comment to city spokesman Paul Eakins on Micah’s Way went unreturned Tuesday.

Koshkerian too wonders about CARE Court – “Why does the City of Santa Ana want to close me down, then?” 

“We’re the only people left. They closed Mary’s Kitchen. We’re the only people left.”

Soup Kitchen in Flux

August marked the end of Mary’s Kitchen’s decades-long life in the City of Orange, offering many of the same services Micah’s Way provides – and roiling that city’s officials all the same.

Now the kitchen runs out of an industrial area in southeast Anaheim off Debra Lane. And things are looking much different for how the place will work, said the kitchen’s leader, Gloria Seuss. 

“We moved to Anaheim. It was very very difficult and it’s still difficult,” Seuss said. “Nobody wants the homeless around. We have to find different ways of serving them, like food distribution at parking lots and churches … We’re not going to go in the same direction. We won’t be cooking for them. We will go to them. It’s just sad there’s not a way out of this.”

Since 1994, the City of Orange leased an industrial lot to the kitchen for $1 a year. 

Officials terminated the lease in 2021, arguing the kitchen had become a public nuisance and criminal attraction in recent years despite its decades of operation and closeness to the police headquarters. 

When hit with a lawsuit, the city in a federal settlement agreement committed to filling in for the lost services at the old Orange site for a year.

That includes installing and maintaining no less than eight showers, two with disability access, and providing things like food, toilets, mail, laundry, and phone charging. 

‘Hard to Adjust’

Willis, the 39-year-old job seeker, used the South Main Street homeless center until it closed and Willis was one of three homeless people to file declarations in support of the center.

Another was Donna Rosalie Carranza, a 64-year-old and 20-year Orange County local.

“Some years ago, my now deceased husband attempted to kill me by stabbing me in the back with a knife, and as a result of that incident and the ongoing domestic abuse I went through, I have permanent right-side nerve and muscle damage,” said Carranza in her court declaration.

Carranza became homeless in July 2012, she said, “after I lost the apartment I shared with my son and daughter-in-law. I have been homeless since then, and the only income I receive is social security and a small amount that I get every month in food stamps.”

For the past eight years, up to 2020, Carranza used the center’s services “on a daily basis as a member.”

“I learned about MHA OC because my son, who also has a mental health disability and was homeless, was using services at the Center at the time. MHA OC helped my son get off drugs and he is now working out-of-state,” Carranza said.

The center’s closure had, by the time of her declaration, already hit Carranza hard.

“I have no place to use the bathroom, shower, or do my laundry. I have not had access to my PTSD group in weeks and I am having trouble dealing with my PTSD symptoms without it […] It took me a long time to feel secure at the Center, and now suddenly it is closed. It has been hard to adjust. I do not know what I will do without the Center if it is permanently shut down.”

Disability Rights California filed the declarations on the homeless people’s behalf. 

In a written statement sent to Voice of OC, City of Santa Ana staff say they sued MHA “to protect the neighborhood from the intense nuisance conditions created by MHA’s operations in a land use zone not intended for MHA’s operations.” 

“MHA has failed to address negative impacts from its operations,” Eakins said. “We look forward to proving the City’s position in court.”

From 2016 to 2018, the center linked nearly nearly 200 people to permanent housing, and more than 3,000 people to medical benefits and substance abuse treatment, according to a 2018 county report on the center’s contracted outcomes. 

Before its closure, the center hoped to get 135 more people into permanent housing by 2021 and 1,800 people into voluntary treatment programs, according to the county report. The facility serviced an average of 85 to 90 adults per day. 

While fighting Santa Ana on the South Main Street homeless center, Disability Rights California has voiced objection to CARE Court.

The group joined more than 40 advocacy organizations up and down the state – from a statewide union of homeless people and various legal aid offices, to the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch. 

The new framework’s list of supporters, by comparison, consists of local chambers of commerce; travel, hospital and building industry associations; and a coalition of the state’s big city mayors.

Among that list was Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento, who didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Here are the Catholic universities offering ‘gender-inclusive’ housing this fall

Did you really think sending your child to a Catholic University would give them the moral lessons needed for life?

“Fairfield University (FU), Sacred Heart University (SHU), and Saint Mary’s College of California (SMCC), all Catholic institutions, included a “gender-inclusive” roommate option for the fall 2022 semester.

FU, located in Connecticut, features its commitment to LGBTQ+ students on its “Gender Inclusive Resources” page.

“Fairfield is committed to providing a safe, affirming, and inclusive community for…LGBTQ+ students, Transgender students, Gender queer students, and Students who do not conform to society’s expectations of their assigned gender at birth,” the website notes.

Looks like the Catholics are still allowing perverts to run the show.  So if a boy says he feels like a girl, he will be roomed with a female—and she has nothing to say about it or she will be expelled for bigotry.

Good thing the modern Catholic church supports abortion—when will Planned Parenthood open a clinic on these campuses?

Here are the Catholic universities offering ‘gender-inclusive’ housing this fall

Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, and Saint Mary’s College of California included a “gender-inclusive” roommate option for the fall 2022 semester.

One university also lists the location of several gender-inclusive restrooms on campus.

AJ Willms , Campus Reform,   9/27/22  

Fairfield University (FU), Sacred Heart University (SHU), and Saint Mary’s College of California (SMCC), all Catholic institutions, included a “gender-inclusive” roommate option for the fall 2022 semester.

FU, located in Connecticut, features its commitment to LGBTQ+ students on its “Gender Inclusive Resources” page.

“Fairfield is committed to providing a safe, affirming, and inclusive community for…LGBTQ+ students, Transgender students, Gender queer students, and Students who do not conform to society’s expectations of their assigned gender at birth,” the website notes.

The website also gives the locations of over a dozen gender-inclusive restrooms available on campus. 

SHU, also located in Fairfield, Connecticut, has a “Gender-Inclusive Housing” page on its website

“The core value of recognizing the dignity and worth of every human being guides Sacred Heart’s commitment to providing a safe and secure living environment for all its students,” the website reads. “Our gender-inclusive housing provides a safe and inclusive community living option for students.”

“Gender-inclusive housing supports Sacred Heart University’s commitment to embracing and celebrating diversity – in all dimensions,” the university explains.

The Catholic university further explains, “Sacred Heart University will not require any student to disclose the nature of their interest in gender-inclusive housing.”

Students must also agree to a set of community standards, including the, “[u]se of inclusive and socially just language and the names and pronouns of community members.”

SMCC’s website also has a “Gender Inclusive Housing” section. It states, “[i]t is the intention of Campus Housing to make room assignments on how you, the student, identify.”

The private college, located in Moraga, directs students to the university’s Center for Women and Gender Equity if they have further questions. 

Campus Reform also contacted Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, and Saint Mary’s College of California for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Compromise Would Reschedule LAUSD’s Extra, Optional School Days — And End Threat Of A Teacher Boycott

For two years the teachers in LAUSD played hooky.  They refused to teach in a classroom, based on ideology, not science.  So, in a compromise the district allowed them to stay home, pretend to teach over the Internet.  Of course, we found out that this was a fraud and the kids learned almost nothing. 

So, in another comprise the teachers agreed to teach another four days, with pay, to make up for the two years.  This is a complete scam—and the losers are the kids, the taxpayers and the future.

LAUSD is a failed district—once again we know the goal is not education but the payoff of the unions so they continue to fund the Socialist Democrats.  Need another reason to flee the district, unless you are looking for babysitting for your child, not an education.

Compromise Would Reschedule LAUSD’s Extra, Optional School Days — And End Threat Of A Teacher Boycott

By Kyle Stokes, LA1st,  9/28/22  

After reaching a compromise with Los Angeles Unified school officials, the district’s teachers union has agreed to drop plans to boycott one of the optional days of extra classes scheduled for later this school year.

Under a tentative deal LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles negotiators reached Tuesday, the four “acceleration days” will still happen, but they’ll be rescheduled to take place during both winter and spring break.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho pushed for scheduling these “acceleration days” to create extra classroom time for students who’ve struggled since the pandemic’s onset. Teachers union members had balked at the idea, saying it amounted to an end-run around UTLA.

“It extended our school year without bargaining with us beforehand,” said Phylis Hoffman, a teacher in Wilmington and a member of the union’s negotiating team. “That’s what we feel is a major victory, is that the school year will remain the same length for teachers and for students.”
Here’s what will change if the agreement is finalized:

  • New dates: Instead of holding these acceleration days on four Wednesdays throughout the year, the acceleration days will take place on Dec. 19, Dec. 20, Apr. 3 and Apr. 4 (all Monday and Tuesday dates).
  • As originally planned, attendance on these acceleration days will be optional for both students and teachers. However, teachers who show up will be paid for extra days of work — which was also part of the original plan. Last spring, LAUSD board members voted to set aside roughly $70 million to cover this cost.
  • No more ‘random Wednesdays’ off: The four originally-scheduled optional days — Oct. 19, Dec. 7, Mar. 15, Apr. 19 — will become normal school days. Attendance on those days will be required.
  • A new last day of school: Since the optional days now overlap with previously-scheduled off-days on the calendar, LAUSD can now shave four days off of the end of its school year. Students’ new last day of school would be Friday, June 9.

All of this is pending a vote of the teachers union’s membership, which UTLA spokesperson Scarlett Ying said would take place early next week. A school board vote will also likely be required to seal the agreement.
On Wednesday morning, Carvalho sent a tweet “celebrat[ing] the consensus” the two sides had reached.

“Differing perspectives may sometimes keep children from the best they should get,” the superintendent wrote, “but fair alternatives can always be negotiated. A win is only a win if kids, too, are winners.”

The Backstory: Why These Extra Days?

Numerous studies and standardized tests have shown that two years of COVID-related disruptions were disastrous for many students’ academic performance. Researchers have suggested extending the school year is a “particularly promising” strategy for schools looking to help students get back on track.

One study in a Massachusetts district even found that students’ attendance at tutoring sessions over school breaks improved their chances of a good score on standardized tests.

This research was the backdrop for LAUSD board members’ vote to approve the calendar for the 2022-23 school year last April.

Had Carvalho opened negotiations with UTLA, he may have been able to convince them to add four additional, mandatory days to the standard 180-day year. But there was little time. At the time, summer break was fast approaching and — with no official calendar yet — families didn’t even know when their children would be expected to report back in the fall.

Carvalho had urged board members to include his original plan for four acceleration days, arguing that “every single day outside of school … is a lost opportunity for them.” Because attendance at these days would be optional for students and teachers, negotiations with the union weren’t necessary. Board members agreed.

How Did This Become So Controversial?

LAUSD officials’ decision to schedule the additional days unilaterally struck UTLA as cynical: union leaders felt as though Carvalho was playing off of teachers’ sympathies for students, since the additional days couldn’t be meaningful to students without teachers’ participation. In that sense, they wondered, were the acceleration days truly voluntary?

As summer progressed — and as separate negotiations for a new labor contract for teachers grew more tense — UTLA officials say they asked for details about plans for the acceleration days and received little information from LAUSD. In August, roughly half of the union’s reported membership of 34,000 voted to boycott the first acceleration day.

With Tuesday’s tentative agreement, that boycott is now off.

“We have been transparent with the Los Angeles Unified community regarding the need for acceleration days,” Carvalho said in a statement, “and providing greater opportunities for students most impacted by the pandemic to address learning loss.

“Though our original plan,” his statement added, “would have allowed real-time understanding of student gaps, this updated plan allows students to benefit from the instruction and support provided by fully staffed schools.”

Many UTLA members feel that the new plan — overlaying the optional days onto consecutive days during previously scheduled breaks — will be more effective and cause less disruption than the previous plan.

“It’s going to be a little bit more cohesive than these four random Wednesdays,” Hoffman said. She noted the timing of the winter break acceleration days will be especially well-timed for students who need to bring a grade up at the end of the fall semester.

As part of the deal, the union and district will also form a joint committee to offer recommendations for how schools should use these extra days — a provision that Hoffman said shows the union’s “commitment” to ensuring the days are as meaningful as possible.

But will students be more likely to make use of these days now that they’re scheduled during a holiday break?

We’ll find out in December.

Berkeley develops Jewish-free zones

Nazi Germany tried to make that country Jew free.  Following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany, the Cal Berkeley Law School is working to make that a Jewish free zone.  Nine law school clubs have outlawed Jews speaking at the law school.  So, an Alan Dershowitz, one of the great legal professors formerly at Harvard is NOT allowed to speak.

Of course the next step is not to allow any Jews from teaching at the school—then not allowing Jews to attend.

What does Gavin Newsom say about this—he has been silent.  You can bet that when he tries to speak in New York and other places where there are a lot of Jews, he will be called a Nazi for his silence.  What would you call someone in authority that allows Jews to be treated like this?  Why hasn’t Biden and the DOJ stepped in to stop this hate crime.

Berkeley develops Jewish-free zones

Photo Courtesy of Rusty Stewart, Flickr

Nine different law student groups have amended bylaws to ensure they will never invite any speakers that support Israel or Zionism.

 (September 29, 2022 / Jewish Journal), Kenneth Marcus) 

If it wasn’t so frightening, one might be able to recognize the irony in the sight of campus progressives trying so hard to virtue signal that they fall victim to a deep moral shame.

Nine different law student groups at the University of California Berkeley’s School of Law, my own alma mater, have begun the new academic year by amending bylaws to ensure that they will never invite any speakers that support Israel or Zionism.

These are not groups that represent only a small percentage of the student population. They include Women of Berkeley Law, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association, Law Students of African Descent and the Queer Caucus.

Berkeley Law’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a progressive Zionist, has observed that he himself would be banned under this standard, as would 90% of his Jewish students.

It is now a century since Jewish-free zones first spread to the San Francisco Bay Area (“No Dogs. No Jews.”). Nevertheless, this move is frightening and unexpected, like a bang on the door in the night.

Berkeley law students are not the first to exclude Zionists. At the State University of New York at New Paltz, activists drove two sexual assault victims out of a survivor group for being Zionists. At the University of Southern California, they drove Jewish student government vice president Rose Ritch out of office, threatening to “impeach [her] Zionist ass.” At Tufts University, they tried to oust student judiciary committee member Max Price from the student government judiciary committee because of his support for Israel.

These exclusions reflect the changing face of campus anti-Semitism. The highest profile incidents are no longer just about toxic speech, which poisons the campus environment. Now anti-Zionist groups target Jewish Americans directly.

Anti-Zionism is flatly anti-Semitic. Using “Zionist” as a euphemism for “Jew” is nothing more than a confidence trick. Like other forms of Judeophobia, it is an ideology of hate, treating Israel as the “collective Jew” and smearing the Jewish state with defamations similar to those used for centuries to vilify individual Jews. This ideology establishes a conspiratorial worldview, sometimes including replacement theory, which has occasionally erupted in violence, including mass-shootings. Moreover, Zionism is an integral aspect of the identity of many Jews. Its derogation is analogous, in this way, to other forms of hate and bigotry.

Some commentators defend these exclusions on speech grounds, arguing that “groups also have a right to be selective, to set their own rules for membership.” They are wrong about this. As Dean Chemerinsky explains, the free speech arguments run in the other direction: Berkeley’s anti-Zionist bylaws limit the free speech of Zionist students.

Discriminatory conduct, including anti-Zionist exclusions, is not protected as free speech. While hate speech is often constitutionally protected, such conduct may violate a host of civil rights laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is not always the case that student groups have the right to exclude members in ways that reflect hate and bigotry. In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of another Bay Area University of California law school, Hastings College of the Law, to require student groups to accept all students regardless of status or beliefs. Specifically, the Court blessed Hastings’ decision to require Christian groups to accept gay members.

Putting legal precedents aside, major universities generally require student groups to accept “all comers,” regardless of “status of beliefs.” They also adopt rules, aligned with federal and state law, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of various classifications such as race, ethnicity, heritage or religion. Those who adopt such rules may not exclude Jews from these protections.

The real issue here is discrimination, not speech. By adopting anti-Jewish bylaw provisions, these groups are restricting their successors from cooperating with pro-Israel speakers and groups. In this way, the exclusionary bylaws operate like racially restrictive covenants, precluding minority participation into perpetuity.

Universities should not have to be legally compelled to do what is obviously right. Anti-Zionist policies would still be monstrously immoral, even if they were not also unlawful. The students should be ashamed of themselves. As should grownups who stand quietly by or mutter meekly about free speech as university spaces go the way of the Nazis’ infamous call, judenfrei. Jewish-free.