Seek more possible minor victims
By San Francisco Police Department
MARCH 05, 2021
In the fall of 2020, the 8-year-old victim reported a sexual assault by the suspect that took place approximately seven months earlier while the suspect was staying overnight at the victim’s home in San Francisco. Upon learning of this assault, the victim’s mother immediately reported the incident to the San Francisco Police Department, and an investigation was initiated by the SFPD Special Victims Unit (SVU).
The investigation led to the discovery of a second victim who also reported numerous sexual advances and assaults when the victim was between the ages of 12-14 years old.
The suspect was identified as 56-year-old Brentwood resident Edward Earl Daniels.
On March 3, 2021, San Francisco Police officers arrested Daniels at his home in Brentwood, CA. He was booked on the following charges: Sexual Assault of a Child Under the Age of Ten (288.7(b)PC), and two counts of Lewd Acts Upon a Child (288(a)PC).
Daniels is currently being held on $1,000,000 bail.
This investigation involves further allegations that Daniels may have engaged in similar behavior with additional unknown minor victims who have not reported these crimes to law enforcement.
If you believe you may have been a victim of, or witness to, a crime related to Daniels, you are encouraged to contact Sgt. Gary Buckner of the San Francisco Police Department Special Victims Unit by calling 1-415-734- 3124.
Honored for her dedicated service to the homeless as Director of Health, Housing & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County
SACRAMENTO – Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, announced Thursday that he has named Lavonna Martin as 2021 State Senate District 7 Woman of the Year. Martin is the Director of Health, Housing, & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County Health Services, in charge of providing services to those without a home to live in – a rising crisis during the Pandemic.
“Lavonna’s selfless leadership and passionate advocacy for those in need have been a lifeline to so many people who have suffered on the streets, especially during the Pandemic,” Senator Glazer said. “She is worthy of this award in every respect.”
Lavonna Martin has worked in homeless services for her entire career, beginning at the Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco and then, for the past 21 years, at Contra Costa Health Services. She began her work with Contra Costa County as the Deputy Director of Homeless Services, eventually became the Chief and when the Health, Housing and Homeless Services Division was formed in 2016, was named Director.
As Director, Lavonna manages a homeless service delivery system that includes street outreach, respite and emergency shelters, independent living programs for transition-age youth, and permanent supportive housing for adults, youth, and families and received an annual compensation package including salary and benefits of over $244,000 in 2019, according to Transparent California.
During the last year in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Lavonna and her team procured 5 hotels (633 rooms) to provide non-congregate shelter options to persons experiencing homelessness at highest risk of COVID-19. Nearly 1702 individuals and families have been served in these hotels to date. More than half (54%) have had a positive exit to other housing or substance use disorder treatment programs.
Lavonna’s division has worked hard to improve the health and hygiene conditions of those living outside during this crisis. Under her leadership, hand-washing stations and porta-potties have been mobilized and stationed to better support persons living outside in the cities of Martinez, Antioch, Concord, Walnut Creek, San Pablo, Pittsburg and Richmond.
To support the basic needs for unsheltered persons, the Division’s CORE team has remained operational and has provided food packs, cloth and non-surgical masks, hand sanitizers, and solar battery chargers so that our unsheltered community could charge cell phones during Shelter In Place.
Previous winners of the Woman of the Year award for the 7th State Senate District were:
- 2020 – Valerie Ariosto, 2020 Olympian Softball, Pleasanton
- 2019 – Margaret Liang, President Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Tri Valley Chapter, Dublin
- 2018 – Alissa Friedman, President/CEO Opportunity Junction, Antioch
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
Had suspended contractor’s license at the time; death of Antioch man occurred in San Ramon
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney
On Monday, March 1, 2021, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed a felony complaint against Segundo Collazos, the owner of Amazon’s Landscaping Company based out of Concord. (See Complaint Collazos February 2021)
The charges relate to the 2018 death of Manuel Peralta, then 68, of Antioch, California, who died while operating a rented tree stump grinder in San Ramon. At the time of the incident, defendant Segundo Collazos had a suspended license with the Contractors State License Board. The investigation began from the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety & Health Bureau of Investigations.
The first felony alleges that defendant Collazos permitted the victim Manuel Peralta to use a stump grinder in a manner contrary to manufacturer recommendations and to work in the danger zone of the cutting wheel, resulting in his death. The second felony alleges that Collazos failed to properly train Peralta on the proper and safe use of the stump grinder, also resulting in his death.
The District Attorney’s Office reminds homeowners to check that a contractor is currently licensed and insured before hiring them for residential construction work. Homeowners can check the validity of a license number on the Contractors’ State Licensing Board website or call (800) 321-CSLB (2752).
“When a Cal/OSHA investigation reveals evidence a worker’s serious injury or death involves criminal misconduct, our Bureau of Investigations Unit refers those cases to the local District Attorney’s Office for prosecution,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker. “We thank the Contra Costa County District Attorney for their work on this case. Employers must be made aware that disregarding the requirement to train and supervise workers using dangerous equipment can lead to tragedy and possible jail time.”
Deputy District Attorney Ryan Morris is prosecuting the case on behalf of the People. DDA Morris is assigned to our Office’s Special Operations Division.
Case information: People v. Segundo Collazos, Docket Number 01-195521-0.Read More
Contra Costa Health Officer says he expects Contra Costa County to remain in the Purple Tier for the next two to three weeks before moving into the less restrictive Red Tier.
By Daniel Borsuk
The old saying “there’s nothing like good old competition” can apply when Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover on Tuesday questioned county health officials if an announcement a day earlier that the state and health care giant Blue Shield of California will jointly launch a statewide COVID-19 vaccine registration system that will compete against county sponsored vaccine registration systems like Contra Costa’s My Turn.
Glover, who represents the East County communities of Pittsburg and Antioch, with high numbers of underserved black and Latino constituents, asked Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano if the new statewide vaccination system will benefit or hinder the County’s efforts.
“Our scheduling system will still be in place,” Farnitano responded. Furthermore, the health officer said that the county’s scheduling and testing capabilities will not be jeopardized.
The new central site sign-up system Blue Shield of California will operate on behalf of the state aims to make obtaining vaccination appointments more efficient and straight forward. In addition, when the state is ready to expand vaccination eligibility to the next population category for doses, every county in the state will have to follow suite at the same time. This takes the decision-making out of the hands of county health officials and into the hands of State or Blue Shield of California health officials.
Health care workers, long-term care residents aged 65 and older and employees working in agriculture and food, education and child care, and emergency services are currently eligible to receive a vaccine in California. Beginning March 15, residents between 16 and 64 years old with severe health ailments, including cancer or heart conditions, and those with developmental or high-risk disabilities will also be eligible for vaccination.
Board Chair Dianne Burgis of Brentwood said that she has received inquiries from constituents if they can select the vaccine to be given when it is their turn at the clinic.
“They are all great vaccines,” answered Farnitano. “With all the vaccines in short supply, we get what is available.”
In the meantime, Farniton said he expects Contra Costa County to remain in the Purple Tier for the next two to three weeks before moving into the less restrictive Red Tier.
Farnitano also said Contra Costa County’s exposure to any COVID-19 variants is “not of concern.” He said there have been no reports of the United Kingdom or South Africa variants in the County.
“Even though we are seeing a lot of good news, we are not out of the woods yet. Up until now we’re winning the race, but we cannot let down our guard too fast. Continue to wear masks, wash your hands and social distance,” he said.
District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond said 86 percent of Contra Costa residents age 75 and over have at least had their first dose
The County Health Director said through the County Health Department, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and School Districts, 25,000 doses of vaccine are dedicated to educators as schools ramp up to reopen.
“More teachers are getting vaccinated,” Farnitano stated.
Supervisors Flash Green Light for Danville Roundabout
Supervisors gave county Public Works officials the green light to start the eminent domain process to change an accident-prone intersection in Danville into a traffic roundabout designed to reduce car speeds and improve pedestrian crossings at Danville Boulevard and Orchard Court.
The County project will include curb extensions, curb ramps and entry medians at the roundabout to cut down on vehicle speeds and improve pedestrian crossings. Sidewalks will be reconstructed along with curb extensions and curb ramps in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The intersection has one of the highest collision rates in the state. It is 2.5 times higher than the state average. Over the last 10 years there were at least 13 bicycle and three pedestrian collisions.
Ann E. Elliott Appointed Director of Human Resources
From a field of 62 applicants and seven semi-finalists, Supervisors unanimously selected acting Director of Human Resources Ann E. Elliot to the full-time position at an annual salary of $240,000 and a $57,000 pension per year. The appointment became effective March 1.
Elliot has served as Interim Director of Human Resources since Sept. 30, 2020 when former Director of Human Resources Dianne Dinsmore retired.
Elliot started her career at the Contra Costa County Human Resources Department in 2015 and has developed a reputation of having an understanding of the responsibilities of Human Resources Management and the value Human resources can contribute to an employer.
Through the recruitment firm Peckham & McKenney, 62 applications were received and seven semi-finalists were forwarded to the County Interview Panel on Dec. 1, 2020 and interviewed on Dec. 9, 2020. The County Interview Panel consisted of Joe Angelo, Alameda County Human Resources Director; Timothy Ewell, Contra Costa County Chief Assistant County Administrator; Lisa Driscoll, Contra Costa County Finance Director; and Kathy Ito, President of KMI Human Resources Consulting, Inc.
After the interviews, County Administrator Monica Nino recommended Elliot’s appointment.
Elliott is a graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University with as Master of Science, Management degree and from Cedarville University with a Bachelor of Arts, Behavioral Science and Psychology.
Approve $17.6 Million in 2020-2021 Property Tax Administration Charges
Facing no citizen comments, Supervisors unanimously approved the 2020-2021 Property Tax Administration Charges with net costs totaling $17,599,506. That amounts to about .56 percent of all 2019-2020 property taxes levied countywide.
“The County absorbs the schools’ share, which amounts to $8,436,409,” according to the county staff report on the item. “School districts, community college districts and the County Office of Education are exempt from the provision, authorizing county recovery of their proportionate share of property tax administrative costs.”
By Timothy Leong, Public Information Officer, 4CD
On November 10, 2020, the Contra Costa Community College District (District) sold $110 million of new Measure E bonds and refinanced $35 million of previously sold general obligation bonds originally issued in 2014 following approval of voters by 57.58%. Due in part to favorable Moody’s and S&P ratings, the refinancing collectively saves Contra Costa County property owners over $1.7 million through 2040, and savings will be passed on in the form of lower property taxes. Voters will see this change reflected in their 2020-21 property tax bills, with annual total savings for our taxpayers of over $150,000.
The new Brentwood Center and new Kinesiology and Student Union Complex at the LMC-Pittsburg campus were the first major District projects completed using Measure E funds. The $110 million sale of new Measure E bonds will help continue the transformation of additional facilities at District sites. These projects include the new Science Center and renovation of the PE/Kinesiology Complex at Contra Costa College, the Arts Complex and PE/Kinesiology Complex at Diablo Valley College (DVC)-Pleasant Hill Campus, and the new Library and Learning Center at the DVC-San Ramon Campus.
“This is the fourth time the District has refinanced previously sold bonds to reduce debt service for our taxpayers,” said Chancellor Bryan Reece. “We will continue to focus on our fiduciary responsibility of managing public funds and want to thank Contra Costa County voters for allowing us to make these critical investments in the community.”
The sales and refinancing transactions were handled by Morgan Stanley. KNN Public Finance was the District’s financial advisor, and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe performed as bond counsel.
The Contra Costa Community College District (District) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The District serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez.
Fifth generation East Bay native, former Oakland City Administrator, Emeryville City Manager
By Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor, East Bay Regional Park District
The East Bay Regional Park District’s Board of Directors today approved the appointment of Sabrina Landreth as General Manager. She is the first female and the tenth General Manager appointed in the Park District’s 87-year history.
“Our Board is thrilled to have Sabrina join our organization,” said Dee Rosario, President of Park District Board of Directors. “She has all the right elements of urban public sector leadership experience and especially understands the diversity of the East Bay communities we serve.”
Ms. Landreth has deep roots in the East Bay as a fifth generation native who has held the top executive leadership positions managing the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. She is a U.C. Berkeley graduate with a master’s degree in Public Policy, in addition to receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“I am honored to be appointed by the Board as the District’s next General Manager,” Landreth said. “I look forward to continuing to build upon the great work the District does to improve the quality of life for our East Bay community, while adhering to its social and environmental responsibilities.”
Most recently Ms. Landreth served as City Administrator in Oakland from 2015- 2020, where she is credited with strong fiscal management and developing a capital improvement program that included community equity goals and has become a model program for local governments around the country. She also worked for Oakland as Deputy City Administrator, Budget Director, and Legislative Analyst to the City’s Finance Committee.
Previously Ms. Landreth served as City Manager of Emeryville and as staff in the California State Assembly advancing state and local legislative initiatives.
Ms. Landreth succeeds Robert Doyle, who retired as General Manager after a 47-year career with the Park District. She will begin her new position at the Park District on Monday, March 15 just four days after her 45th birthday.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
Governor, Senate Pro Tem Atkins and Assembly Speaker Rendon highlight new $6.6 billion package to reopen schools and deepen student supports
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon today highlighted an agreement on a $6.6 billion budget package to accelerate the safe return to in-person instruction across California and empower schools to immediately expand academic, mental health and social-emotional supports, including over the summer.
“Since the height of the winter surge, we have successfully shifted the conversation from whether to reopen schools to when,” said Governor Newsom. “Now, our collective charge is to build on that momentum and local leadership, and – just as critically – do whatever it takes to meet the mental health and academic needs of our students, including over the summer.”
The Governor was joined by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and other legislative leaders at Franklin Elementary School in the Elk Grove Unified School District. The state’s fifth largest public school district was among the first to close for in-person instruction last year. Last week, based on deep partnership between school staff and leaders, the district announced plans to reopen grades K-6 in mid-March and grades 7-12 in early April.
Elk Grove Unified and public schools throughout the state will be allocated $6.6 billion under the proposed budget package. $2 billion would fund safety measures to support in-person instruction, such as personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and COVID-19 testing. $4.6 billion would fund expanded learning opportunities, such as summer school, tutoring and mental health services. Together, the funds empower schools to develop and execute comprehensive strategies to both reopen and expand programs to address the social-emotional, mental health and academic needs of students.
All public schools would be required to offer in-person instruction to grades K-2 for all students and for high-needs students in all grades by the end of the month, losing 1 percent of eligible funds every day thereafter if they do not. Schools in the state’s Red Tier or better would be required to offer in-person instruction to all students in all elementary grades and at least one middle or high school grade, or risk the same penalty. Together, these requirements help ensure schools begin to reopen as soon as possible, in order to build trust and confidence to continue phased reopenings.
As students return to in-person instruction, all public schools would also be empowered to meet the needs of the whole child. The Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants allocate $4.6 billion to local educational agencies based on the equity-based Local Control Funding Formula, with an additional $1,000 for each homeless student. These funds would be for supplemental instruction and support for social and emotional well-being. Schools would be able to use the funds for providing more instructional time, such as summer school, and accelerating progress to close learning gaps through tutoring, learning recovery programs, mental health services, access to school meal programs, programs to address pupil trauma and social-emotional learning, supports for credit-deficient students and more.
The package would also codify multiple successful state programs to support safe school reopenings:
- Vaccine Prioritization for K-12 School Staff. The package codifies the Governor’s commitment to set aside 10 percent of vaccines for education workers. This commitment ensures that the state prioritization of school staff, in place since January, is made real in all 58 counties. Since the Governor’s announcement two weeks ago, the state has collaborated with county health departments, the Biden Administration and providers such as Kaiser Permanente to accelerate vaccine access for K-12 school staff starting March 1.
- Data Reporting. The package codifies data reporting requirements, including requirements for schools to report reopening status and COVID-19 safety measures. These statutory requirements will help build on efforts to increase transparency, including interactive geospatial maps displayed on the Safe Schools Hub.
- State Safe Schools Team. The package also allocates $25 million to the State Safe Schools Team, which serves to provide technical assistance, oversight and accountability to the over 10,000 public schools in the state. The capacity will enhance the Team’s reach, and the Team will conduct a safety review of any school with two or more COVID-19 outbreaks.
The budget package is the result of months of work by the Governor’s Office, Senate and Assembly. The Governor, Senate Pro Tem Atkins and Assembly Speaker Rendon also thanked Senators Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Connie Leyva (D-Chino), along with Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) for their tireless work and leadership on this effort.
The state’s efforts to accelerate safe school reopenings to date include delivery of three months of PPE and safety supplies to all schools at no cost, direct support to over 1,000 schools in 41 counties to implement COVID-19 testing and direct technical assistance to over 300 school districts.
For more information, please visit: https://schools.covid19.ca.gov/.
By Concord Police Department
Early this morning, just after midnight, CPD received a call reporting a male down in the roadway near a shopping center located in the 1100 block of Concord Ave. Officers found a 26-year-old male who appears to have been killed from several gunshot wounds. Witnesses described a dark colored SUV that may have been involved. Detectives are actively working the case and there is no further information for release at this time.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Detective Loercher at (925) 603-5922 or our anonymous tip-line at (925) 603-5836, referencing case #21-02004.Read More
By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
Sunday afternoon, Feb. 28, 2021 at about 2:53 PM, Orinda police officers responded to Don Gabriel Way in Orinda for a report of an armed robbery at a residence.
The victim was confronted by two men, one of whom was armed. The suspects stole valuables and then fled. The victim called the police. He was not injured.
Police searched for the suspects using a helicopter, drone and police K-9 but were not able to locate them.
The investigation is ongoing.
The suspects are described as two African American males. One was wearing a green florescent construction vest, black colored hoodie jacket w/red stripe, black pants and white shoes. The other was dressed in a baby-blue colored hoodie jacket, black pants, and black and white shoes. The vehicle they were driving is a silver-colored Mercedes Benz.
Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact Sheriff’s Office dispatch at (925) 646-2441. For any tips, email: email@example.com or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
By Elizabeth Terry, Antioch High School science teacher
My day starts early, and I do mean early. Stumbling into my kitchen, groggily grinding the beans, trying to clear the leftover fog of sleep, I begin to think about the day ahead. It’s 3:30 am when that god touched ichor finally hits and I’m thinking clearly enough to do my daily crosswords. I find the Washington Post’s crossword extremely difficult, but the NY Times’ puzzle fairly mundane. At 4 I’m ready to get myself ready for the day, have breakfast, then make the 30 second commute across the hall to my digital school room readying myself for the day’s lessons. It is now 5:30. As I power up my computer, the new one which I purchased to meet the moment of this odd teaching year, I’m reminded of an earlier time when I would get to school at 6 am ready to prepare the day’s labs, and I again wonder at how drastically different, yet still similar this school year has been. I click on Facebook and begin to again read the hateful comments on our local “news” outlet about how lazy teachers are being. Despite an overwhelming sense of crushing depression, I snap out of it and begin the day’s grades, with the news on in the background.
My ears perk up when the anchors are talking again about school closures. The anchors are railing against teachers, and I sit stunned, when the guests on the program again echo the anchor’s sentiments. The familiar anger takes over and I wonder who will speak for us. Who will advocate for our lives? After all, I remember a few short months ago at the end of last year when my profession was lauded and celebrated. Now, I feel spat on daily, hesitant to declare that I’m a teacher. The depressing part is that this is oftentimes coming from our friends and our families. I question how a profession who has one of the lowest ratios of education to salary could possibly be the cornerstone of society, as if somehow the fate of western society rests on our underpaid shoulders. I, like many of us are angry, burnt out, and frustrated because no one in power, not in the government, not in the CDC, nor in the current administration is actually sticking up for our lives. Instead, we are being vilified, crucified on the altar of the economy. Our efforts over the last year aren’t even seen let alone recognized. It’s enough to make a person quit.
They say we aren’t working. These comments are made by folks who took what happened last year as their measure of what is happening this year in our virtual classrooms. But what many people don’t know is that teachers have actually very little voice in the decisions that county health and school board make. During the March lockdowns, we were told that we couldn’t teach any new concepts, instead it was review only. More importantly, the students were told that they would pass regardless of their activity. And as teenagers often do, they did nothing. There was no incentive to do anything other than that. As a classroom teacher, I worked very hard to put together lessons that would inspire my students, even in a pandemic, I created digital lessons which were fun and engaging. Lesson that few students even showed up for. This included my AP kids. We were told to offer grace, which we did, and we did what teachers always do, we made it work. This was, of course, not ideal, but we made it work with what we had. I look back and think of all the glowing praise of our efforts and smile. It felt good to finally be recognized for the hard work we were putting in. But as a veteran teacher of 17 years, I knew the public good will wouldn’t last.
During the summer, myself and several colleagues and friends trouble shot the new program that we would be working on. We learned entirely new platforms, we taught ourselves how to use the district tools that were provided (without training I might add). We then taught our colleagues their uses as well. We waited anxiously to know how, when, and in what form we would start school again – we were quite literally, the last to know. The school board decided to delay opening, which meant the following year we would not have much of a summer, but what the board wants, the board gets.
The start of school saw a steep learning curve. As our students had never had technology before, we are in a title-1 school district after all, they had zero knowledge on how a PC operates. It was a brand-new digital world for them. We taught them how to use their computers. Soon they were using Word, PowerPoint, chatting in Teams, saving, and using the new programs. It was a struggle, but we made it through. We had to create all of our lessons over again, this time figuring out how to make it work in a digital environment. I teach 3 laboratory sciences. I had to completely redo all of my documents so that students could use excel to graph their data. Then I had to teach them how to use excel. Though frustrated at the drastically slower pace of learning, our students were learning and progressing through our curricula. This was hard, but we did it.
On top of our teaching duties, we had to reach out to students who were not coming. We had to figure out a way to get them into the classroom. We had to simultaneously offer grace, while holding high expectations. We had to speak for our students and watch out for their mental health, while no one was watching ours. And still, we did it. My students have tracked horse evolution through 65 million years, they have learned how to calculate carrying capacity, they have made survivorship curves using gravestone data and compared it to covid numbers. My biotech students have done Gel electrophoresis, learned how to use a spectrophotometer and have done macromolecule assays. All online, all virtual. However, if you read the public comments, we are lazy, the students aren’t learning anything, and we should take our slothful butts back into work or quit.
It’s now 8 am. I’m done entering grades, and I need to set up the electrophoresis chamber for the lab I’ll be doing in 1st period. On tap today is a DNA fingerprinting lab for first, and we will be doing a case study in my ecology class on competitive exclusion of bullfrogs. At 8:40 I am in class. I teach for an hour, going back and forth between my kitchen/lab, to my office/classroom. At 9:40, I finish up my attendance logs, and take a break between classes. At 9:50 am I get an email about a student who won’t attend today because she’s feeling blue. I call her and we chat for a few minutes in between classes. At 10:20 its time for class number two, followed by a short lunch break. During my break, I catch up on emails and grade the class warm-ups that were submitted by the first two classes. At 12:30, I teach my last class of the day. But I’m not done yet. I have office hours in the afternoon where I tutor struggling students. I send chats to those whose homework I’m missing, in the vain hope that at least some in my fourth period will turn in their work. And then I make the mistake of checking my Facebook.
“DISBAND the CTA (California Teachers Union)” I see in emblazoned headlines across my news feed. I know I shouldn’t but I click it anyway. Apparently, as a teacher I am do-nothing, morally bankrupt individual who just doesn’t want to work. Huh, I think, I wonder what I’ve been doing all day? I’m so tired of this. What the petitioner doesn’t understand is that teachers have little voice in the decisions to go back to school. This is a decision run by school boards. Additionally, it isn’t the school board’s decision either, rather the decision is made by the county health department. The county decides whether or not we can open based on the case data. The parents should be pointing the fingers at themselves. If they want the school to open, they should be wearing masks, using social distancing measures to drive down the cases.
The originator of the petition stated that “there has been no instances of Covid being transmitted from children.” You see I know, according to the Covid Monitoring project, that there ARE cases of high school students not only acquiring covid, but also transmitting it to their families in an asymptomatic way. As of this writing, 657,667 cases of students and staff have acquired Covid . Locally, I have 3 high school kids who are positive, and one was very sick. I also know that as a person who is on the older side, with an autoimmune disorder, I’m likely to die from this disease. If any of those three had come into school we would have all been on quarantine. In my house, which frankly I don’t go out from, I have zero chance of picking up COVID. Going back into the classroom increases my risk by 100%. Teachers are merely asking for two things before going back. One, to be vaccinated, have people in their households vaccinated and to have the safety items in place. I think to myself I didn’t sign up to be killed at work. Also, as stated, we don’t have anything to do with the decision to lock down anyway, but the public, frustrated, have no one else to blame but us. I’m just so tired, and I think, who will speak for us?
Teachers don’t want to be out of the classroom. We desperately want to see our students. However, we also don’t want to potentially die from our employment. Other professions have safety standards, why can’t we? Many of us work in dilapidated conditions, left behind from years of little to no improvements, left behind for getting equipment we need to do our jobs. As a science teacher I routinely spend at least 1000 dollars every year on supplies. No other profession is asked to pay for their supplies. Imagine telling a firefighter that she has to purchase her own hose…yet that is what we tell teachers to do. I had to purchase all the equipment I use to do my job. Why? Because the district laptops have 8gbs of ram, and the program we use, Teams require 8gbs, so you can’t have anything else running on your laptop, otherwise the whole computer crashes. Along with that computer, I bought two monitors, a webcam, and more. Yet, I’m being greedy and lazy, according to the authors of this asinine petition.
The CDC says teachers can go back to school, without being vaccinated IF proper mitigation is in effect. That IF is important, I can’t open my windows in my classroom, and neither can my friends because the one window pole we had has been lost. Therefore, no-one in my hall can actually open their windows. We are lucky that we HAVE windows as some of my colleagues teach in an interior classroom. Our school won’t have the “proper mitigation” any time soon. The good news is that the vaccines are starting to roll out. But it takes a minute to get an immune response. By the time our teachers are vaccinated, and we would have gotten immunity, there will literally be a month and a half left in the year. It is my suggestion to just ride it out. I think this for two reasons. First, the students are now used to the routine. If we came now, it would be a huge disruption, and if we went into quarantine due to a case, that would be worse. Secondly, hybrid offers us 1 day of instruction. I’m barely covering enough curriculum on 2 days per week, I can’t even imagine how little I will get through with one day of instruction.
I am sick of people, including folks in the Biden administration saying teachers should go back because “this is who they are.” As if we are all Mother Teressa. Um no, this is my profession. This is what I was trained to do, this is my art and my craft. But more importantly, this is my job. This job pays for my house, my children, my car, etc. I don’t work for free, and it is unfair to expect me to. We don’t expect doctors to work for free because its “who they are.” The only reason it happens to us teachers is because, in my opinion, teaching is viewed as “women’s work.” I guarantee if this profession was dominated by males, our salaries and our respect would rise dramatically.
Finally, I would ask the public to understand that unions, those that are meant to protect the health and well-being of our sector are made up of people. Men and women who sacrifice their sleep, their money, and their time to the education of your children. We are the people who make up the “union” and deserve some small measure of the respect that we are due. For all the days that we work during our unpaid summers, to the endless nights that we stay up grading papers, for the donated time we put in making phone calls to struggling students. Because if we don’t get that respect, if we are not recognized for the value that we bring to society, if we are not paid a fair wage that recognizes our talent and contributions, you may just find your students being educated by google – and that would be a tragedy.
It’s 5:25 I finally log out of my computer. That’s a 12-hour shift.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Terry is the Antioch High School Science Department Co-chair, Biology Chairwoman, Biotech program Lead, teaching AP Biology, Lab-Based Ecology and repeater Biology. She’s been a teacher at the school since August 2009. According to her teacher profile Terry’s education includes a Teaching Certification – 2003; BA Biological Sciences – 2001 and AA – Liberal Arts 1998 – Foothill College; AA – Liberal Arts 1998 – De Anza College; and an EMT Certification – San Francisco Community College 1992.Read More