By Fernando Navarro
On Thursday, November 10, an incident took place in Pittsburg and Antioch which illustrated a major failing of our public education system. Hundreds of Pittsburg High School students, apparently protesting the results of the presidential election, walked out of their classes, off campus, and made their way to Antioch. During their journey, some of them committed acts of violence which resulted in three arrests…and a strain on police resources for both cities, as 23 police officers (15 from Antioch and 8 from Pittsburg) had to be called out to deal with the situation.
Statements by some officers indicated that the PHS principal, Todd Whitmire, joined students in the protest. This has been disputed by Whitmire and Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Janet Schulze, who claim Whitmire was with the protesters only to make sure they were safe.
Neither story speaks well of the PUSD leadership. The first would indicate that PUSD administrators are actively working to incite students away from learning and discourse and toward yelling and violence. The second would indicate that PUSD administrators have lost control of their school, and that student whims rule the day.
What we witnessed didn’t come out of nowhere, and didn’t come about because the, “election has been especially emotional,” as a statement by Schulze said. This is the result of years of inept classroom management, which has led to a lack of respect for authority. It comes about because, as with English and math, students don’t appear to be learning basic civics.
I recently lost my bid for election to the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees. That doesn’t mean I’ll be silent, though. I’ll continue to advocate for the change that’s needed to turn our schools around and deliver better educational, and life-choice, outcomes for our students. And I’ll be encouraging parents to educate themselves about school policies, and to make sure their voices are heard. But I’ll be doing so by speaking and writing in the appropriate forums, not by disrupting traffic, disrupting classes, or by otherwise impinging on the rights of my fellow citizens.
Finally, I applaud Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando for speaking out about this incident at the PUSD School Board meeting. I applaud AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello and Antioch High School Principal Louis Rocha for taking swift action to prevent similar disruptions in Antioch schools.
Now, let’s all come together to provide our students with the educations they deserve.
Navarro is a member of the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees