Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Contra Costa Community College District bond sale, refinance saves property tax payers $1.7 million

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

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 voter approval of 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.

 

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Newsom, state leaders agree to reopen schools by end of month, offer incentives, penalties

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

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/.

 

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OpEd: Who will speak for me? Reflections of an Antioch classroom teacher during a pandemic

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

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 a 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. Terry’s education includes a Teaching Certification in 2003; BA Biological Sciences in 2002 – San Jose State;  AA Liberal Arts in 1998 – Foothill College; AA Liberal Arts in 1998 – De Anza College; and an EMT Certification in 1992 – San Francisco Community College.

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Antioch Rotary Club to host annual girls empowerment virtual event for 8th grade girls

Friday, February 26th, 2021

In coordination with the Antioch Unified School District middle schools, Unity theme

On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, Antioch Rotary Club and Antioch Unified School District will host a virtual Day of Empowerment for 700 8th-grade girls in celebration of International Day of the Girls. Our theme this year is “Unity” and will be the focus during the 3½-hour Zoom event.

“We are very committed to the success of the youth in our community of Antioch. We want our young ladies to know their options are not limited and there is a wide range of careers available to them,” said Tirrell Muhammad, Antioch Rotary President.

The virtual event will include keynote speaker San Francisco Mayor London Breed and will kick off with motivational speaker Tracie Berry McGhee, M.Ed. She will lead her “I am Enough” series, which rallies against society’s pressure for girls to be perfect.

In addition, a panel discussion will be held featuring four community leaders and positive female role models. AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello, infectious disease specialist Dr. Yenjean Hwang, probation officer LaTasha Jones and chemical engineer Caroline Salazar will discuss their professional careers and answer questions from students. Each panelist was chosen to inspire young women to pursue their future goals and aspirations.

As part of this project, the Antioch Rotary Club has been working closely with the principals of all Antioch middle schools, along with two charter schools and Holy Rosary.

“Antioch Rotary is very proud to be involved with AUSD and their middle schools to bring such a powerful program to our young ladies, again this year,” Muhammad added. “We hope to also bring our Kings’ Conference which focuses on African American males in the spring.”

For further information regarding this program or the Kings’ Conference, contact program coordinator Sal Sbranti, at salsbranti@comcast.net.

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Deer Valley High student wins second in 2021 Contra Costa County Poetry Out Loud competition

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Esmeralda Noyola’s performance in the 2021 Poetry Out Loud county finals. Video screenshot.

Prospects High School champion also made the finals of the competition

The Arts and Culture Commission announced the winners of the 2021 Poetry Out Loud Contra Costa County and Esmeralda Noyola, the Deer Valley High School champion, won second place in the final competition and was awarded a $150 cash prize. The Facebook Live Virtual Screening and Awards Ceremony was held on February 11th. Her performance was of the poem We Are Not Responsible by Harryette Mullen. (See her introduction and performance at the 23:50 mark of the video)

Jermaine Gitana from Pinole Valley High School was selected the champion of the county finals and awarded a $200 prize and varsity jacket.

“I am a 17-year-old senior at Pinole Valley High who is part Black and Filipino,” said Gitana. “I enjoy playing instruments, making music, swimming, singing, and most of all reciting poetry.”

His performances of the poems Written By Himself by Gregory Pardlo and Piano by D. H. Lawrence proved to be a winning combination! On March 11th, Jermaine will compete in the Poetry Out Loud State Finals where students recite 3 poems. On March 12th, the California State Winner will be announced on California Arts Council email, internet, and social media. We are very proud of Jermaine!

Tessa Brubaker from San Ramon Valley High School placed third and was awarded $100. The County Finals included impressive high school champions Patricia May Villanueva of Prospects High School (Antioch), Michael Miralles of John Henry High School (Richmond), Kyla Erika Nano of Concord High School, and Kaleigh Thurman of College Park High School (Pleasant Hill).

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud provides free curriculum materials—all available online—including a poetry anthology, a comprehensive teacher’s guide, videos of student performances, lesson plans, and promotional and media resources.

All Contra Costa County high school students, grades 9-12, are invited to enter Poetry Out Loud. School winners advance to the County competition each February, then the State competition on March 11, and ultimately to the National Finals. The 2021 POL National Semifinals will take place on Sunday, May 2nd and the 2021 POL National Finals will take place on Thursday, May 27th and will be held virtually in lieu of holding them on-site in Washington D.C. as previously planned. Both will be video submission-based competitions and will be streamed on arts.gov.

Every high school in the county (public, private, parochial, independent, alternative, continuation, court, charter and home schools), non-profit organizations, and libraries are encouraged to participate. Students don’t enter the POL competition directly, but through their high schools or a school POL liaison such as a teacher, librarian, school staff, or organization member.

“Last August, I became the new Managing Director and was first introduced to the amazing Poetry Out Loud program. Our incredible team of Donté Clark (Poetry Out Loud Coordinator), Brennan DeFrisco (Poetry Out Loud Student Coach and Assistant Coordinator), and Antonio Tamayo (Poetry Out Loud Digital Content and Technical Assistant) worked together to transition the program online,” said Jenny Balisle, Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County Managing Director. “The Virtual Screening and Awards Ceremony was an evening of many firsts for the Arts and Culture Commission: first Facebook Live event for a signature art program, first ASL interpreters for a live virtual event, and first Land Acknowledgement. Despite the pandemic, we were determined to uplift, support, and celebrate Contra Costa County youth! I’m proud of what we accomplished but most of all- very proud of the resilience and grace of our youth.”

To watch the Virtual Screening and Awards Ceremony please visit here.

Poetry Out Loud is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, California Arts Council, and Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County (AC5).

AC5 is dedicated to advancing the arts in a way that promotes communication, education, appreciation and collaboration throughout Contra Costa County so that we may grow creatively as a community that preserves and celebrates our diverse cultural expression.

Please visit www.ac5.org for more information and sign up on our email list. We welcome your participation and hope to see you next year!

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Deer Valley High’s Mock Trial team wins three of four rounds in this year’s virtual competition

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

The 40th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials were held virtually, this year from January 26 through the final round on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Antioch’s Deer Valley High team from the Law & Justice Academy won three of the first four rounds but fell to Acalanes High in the Quarter Finals. In the first and third rounds, as well as the Quarter Finals the Deer Valley team played in the role of the Defense. In rounds two and four, Deer Valley fulfilled the role of the Prosecution.

Deer Valley beat the team from Hercules High in Round 1, the team from Dougherty Valley High of San Ramon in Round 2 and the team from El Cerrito High in Round 4. They lost to Miramonte High of Orinda in Round 3.

The team from California High School of San Ramon won their fourth straight championship, beating Acalanes of Lafayette in the final round. The match was judged and scored by former judge and current Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, along with five Bay Area attorneys, serving as Mock Trial scorers.

Also, noteworthy, the Miramonte team defeated the Hercules High team during the same evening’s consolation match. This trial was judged and scored by Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Steve Austin, along with five attorney scorers.

The 2021 top four teams were ranked in this order: 1) California High, 2) Acalanes High, 3) Miramonte High, 4) Hercules High. California High has now won four consecutive championships.

The Mock Trials Awards Ceremony were also held virtually, on Thursday, Feb. 18. Opening the event, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey gave the welcome and message to the attendees, followed by remarks made by Contra Costa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Rebecca Hardie, and the Mock Trial coaches presented their Coaches Awards to their exceptional-performing students. This was followed by the announcement of individual awards that were recorded by the volunteer Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers during the four opening preliminary rounds. The ceremony concluded with naming of this year’s championship team from Cal High.

“As like numerous other counties in California, this was a challenging year for our High School Mock Trial program,” said Superintendent Mackey. “Due to COVID-19, this was the first time in 40 years that we were not able to hold our trials in one of the Martinez courthouses, but instead held the competitions via Zoom Meetings. This year’s Mock Trial success was because of a group effort between our volunteer judges and attorneys and our staff, as well as the patient and dedicated team coaches and their determined students. Congratulations to all of you!”

Directed by their teaching coach, Brian Barr, California High will now represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, March 18-22. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 13-15.

Art Contest

In the Courtroom Art Contest, students participated as courtroom artists, a companion program to Mock Trials. As courtroom artists, students accompanied their Mock Trial teams and sketched courtroom scenes that were later judged by a team of art judges. The winner was Michelle Nguyen from California High School and will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.

Journalism Contest

In the Courtroom Journalism Contest, participating students were given an opportunity to report on a Mock Trial from the perspective of a journalist. As courtroom reporters, students accompanied their school’s Mock Trial teams to the preliminary rounds of the competition. Courtroom reporters then wrote and submitted one 500-word news article on the trial they attended. Articles were judged by a panel of specialists. The winner, Nicholas Harvey, also from California High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals. Read  his winning article.

The honored guest speaker, Judge Hardie, told the audience, “Congratulations to all of the students, teachers, and coaches for a wonderful competition. I’m so pleased that we didn’t let COVID-19 get in the way of our historic and annual tradition. We are so proud of our longstanding partnership with the Mock Trial program. Here at the county’s Superior Court, Mock Trials is one of our favorite times of the year. And, I heard so many wonderful stories from this year’s volunteering judges. They all agreed about how seamless the trials went this year, especially adapting the competition from our physical courtrooms to virtual courtrooms. The students did not miss a beat!

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society.

This year’s case, People v. Croddy, is the trial of Lee Croddy who hosts a popular YouTube channel called The Right Choice of News (RCN). Croddy has been charged with two counts: (1) aiding and abetting in the commission of first-degree burglary by another, and (2) accessory after the fact. This case will also feature a pre-trial argument on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and as set forth in Miranda v. Arizona.

Since the beginning of the school year, teams of high school students worked with teacher coaches and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. Students assumed the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. During the Zoom Meetings, Mock Trial judges and attorneys scored the students’ presentations and provided immediate feedback.

This year, there were 18 teams from the following 19 Contra Costa County high schools competed: Acalanes High (Lafayette), Alhambra High (Martinez), California High (San Ramon), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), De La Salle (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), De La Salle (Concord), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), El Cerrito High (El Cerrito), Hercules High (Hercules), Heritage High (Brentwood), Kennedy High (Richmond), Las Lomas High (Walnut Creek), Miramonte High (Orinda), Monte Vista High (Danville), Richmond High (Richmond). *Richmond High and Kennedy High combine students for one team.

Approximately 60 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges volunteered their time and expertise to serve as Mock Trial attorney scorers and judges. These volunteers represented judges from the Contra Costa County Superior Courts, and attorney scorers included attorneys from Bay Area county District Attorney and Public Defender offices, the State Attorney General’s Office, and the California Department of Justice. Also serving as attorney scorers, were non-profit, public, private, and corporate attorneys. Because this year’s competition was virtual, there were attorneys volunteering from their offices in Los Angeles; San Diego; Truckee; and Olympia, Washington. In addition, senior students from two Bay Area law schools also lent a hand in scoring.

For all the team and individual results, visit the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s Mock Trial results web page. #cocomocktrial

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch businesses asked to participate in Color Our Town in support of the Class of 2021

Friday, February 5th, 2021

By Denise Rundall

I am asking businesses in Antioch to support the Class of 2021. All I am asking is if you can support our senior class of 2021 by putting up the school colors on the third Friday of each month until graduation week. If you decorate your business in the school colors and let me know I will add your business name and a picture (if I get one) on the Adopt a 2021 Senior Antioch High Facebook. I will also provide the picture and business name to the other schools to see if they can add your picture/name to their Facebook page.

Participating businesses will also be featured on a special page on the Antioch Herald website: Color Our Town 2021 | Antioch Herald

Just by supporting our Antioch senior class(es) of 2021 your business will get free advertising!

Here is a list of the dates and school colors for decorating.

Decorate on:

Friday, February 19

Friday, March 19

Friday, April 16

Friday, May 21

Graduation week is Monday, June 14 through Friday June 18, 2021

Schools, Colors and Mascots

Antioch High School – Black and Gold, mascot is Panther

Bidwell High School – Purple, White, and Black, mascot is Bulldogs

Deer Valley High School – Teal and Black, mascot is Wolverines

Dozier-Libbey Medical High School – Light Blue, Yellow, and Lime Green, mascot is Diamond Backs

Live Oak High School – Maroon and Silver, mascot is Pegasus

Prospects High School – Teal and White, mascot is Hawks

Cornerstone Christian School – Navy Blue and Yellow, mascot is the Cougars

P.S. If you are planning on doing anything special for the seniors let me know so we can advertise it to the students! Let’s help make our Antioch Seniors’ year special!

Rundall is a parent of a 2021 High School Senior in Antioch. She can be reached at (925) 305-9993 or drundall6@gmail.com.

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Accreditation Commission extends accreditation to Contra Costa Community College District with warning

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

By Timothy Leung, Public Information Officer, 4CD

In a report to the Contra Costa Community College District (District), the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (Commission) has announced continued full accreditation of the District’s three colleges, but has also issued a warning to the District. The warning is the lightest sanction level that can be issued; however, District leadership has already started working on serious solutions. Five concerns have been raised by the Commission, four of them connected to Governing Board behavior that was widely reported by local media throughout 2020.

“I applaud our colleges who are doing tremendous work to increase the success of our students,” says Chancellor Bryan Reece. “To be clear, the Commission’s findings have nothing to do with teaching or our ability to provide the support our students need. Nevertheless, we accept the findings and are ready to roll up our sleeves and begin the hard work in addressing the areas of improvement around District governance.”

The five areas of improvement are:

  • Standard III.A.5 (District Requirement 1): In order to meet the standard, the Commission requires that the District develop a process by which all classified employees are regularly and systematically evaluated.
  • Standard IV.C.3 (District Requirement 2): In order to meet the standard, the Commission requires the Governing Board should follow its Board policy related to the Chancellor’s evaluation process.
  • Standard IV.C.7 (District Requirement 3): In order to meet the standard, the Commission requires the Governing Board act consistently with its adopted policies and bylaws, and regularly assesses these policies and bylaws.
  • Standard IV.C.11 (District Requirement 4): In order to meet the standard, the Commission requires the Governing Board uphold and adhere to their adopted code of ethics policy-BP 1010.
  • Standard IV.C.12 (District Requirement 5): In order to meet the standard, the Commission requires the Governing Board delegate full responsibility and authority to the Chancellor to implement and administer board policies without board interference and hold the Chancellor accountable for the operation of the District and colleges.

“The Governing Board and our community members have been frustrated with these issues for a while and we take these findings seriously,” says Board President Andy Li. “We have already begun working together to address these issues, and I am confident the trustees will continue making progress toward addressing the Commission’s areas of improvement.”

With four of the five areas for improvement attached to the Governing Board, and one to the District Office, the Commission did not find areas of concern in the three colleges. In fact, Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College were officially commended for best practices.

Diablo Valley College received a Commendation for exceeding the following accreditation standard:

  • Standards I.B.5, II.A.2, II.C.1 (College Commendation 1): The Commission commends the College for its use of data to assess the accomplishment of its mission through its program review process in order to continuously improve courses, programs, and student services.

Los Medanos College received a Commendation for exceeding the following accreditation standard:

  • Standard III.A.14 (College Commendation 1): The Commission commends the College for its robust offering of professional development opportunities in support of its mission, vision, values, and strategic initiatives based on the use of data throughout College processes, including equity-centered practices.

A summary report highlighting the District’s progress in addressing the five areas is due to the Commission by October 2021, followed by a site visit from a peer review team to ensure continued progress is being made.

The Commission conducts accreditation for all community colleges in California (and other areas as well). Colleges are evaluated on a six-year cycle, and will soon transition to a seven-year cycle. During these comprehensive evaluations, the Commission also includes a review of the District Office and Governing Board, but their accreditation decision is applied to the colleges themselves.

About the College District

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.

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