Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Contra Costa Community Colleges closed until Monday due to poor air quality

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

By Timothy Leong, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa Community College District

Due to the unpredictable and poor air quality we are experiencing throughout Contra Costa County, the Contra Costa Community College District has decided to close all locations – Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College, Brentwood Center, San Ramon Campus and District Office – effective 3:00 p.m. today (Thursday), Friday and Saturday.  We will reopen all locations on Monday, November 19, 2018.

While the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is forecasting a significant improvement in air quality over the next few days, we believe this decision best serves the safety of our students, staff and community.

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Letters: Writer defends East Bay Tech Academies as necessary for Antioch students

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Dear Editor:

I am a strong supporter of all public schools. The proposed East Bay Tech Academies approved by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board earlier this year are free, public, charter schools. All of us who worked on bringing this choice to Antioch also support improvement at our current AUSD schools. Even so, we need high performing schools now so that our current students have the chance for success that they deserve.

As a longtime resident, it has saddened me to see many great families with school-aged children move out of town, primarily to get their children into higher performing school districts. I agree with the comment posted by Ken Turnage (on a previous letter to the editor) that it is possible to get a great education in Antioch. My children had some outstanding teachers. However, at the same time, the great majority of children attending the AUSD perform below grade level and are not meeting State Standards in either math or English. This can’t all be a result of bad parenting. After all, where high quality charter schools are established in a community, most of the same children who were failing begin to excel.

The nationally recognized model that the East Bay Tech Academies is offering Antioch families has taken a school in a neighboring community from a poor performing school to one of the best in the state. Fifty-two percent (52%) of their students were proficient in Math in 2016 versus only 15% at Antioch High School and 32% at Deer Valley High School. Which school would you choose to send your children to if you had a choice? The opponents of these schools never argue on the performance numbers because these facts are indisputable.

In fact, almost all of the opposition to charter schools comes from the teacher’s unions. Ironically, I know of many teachers and politicians who send their own children to charter and private schools, while fighting to prevent school choice for others. Parents at the local middle schools signed the East Bay Tech Academies petitions at an astonishing rate. Eight out of ten parents that I spoke with signed immediately when presented with the petition. Parents clearly support choice.

The unfounded fear is that these charter schools will hurt the district by attracting children from the district schools. The reality is that parents and students have already left the district in droves because they want options. The AUSD student population has declined by over 5,000 students from twelve years ago when my children were in the AUSD schools. At the same time, the population of Antioch has risen by over 20%. The student population should have increased significantly over this same period. Performance numbers, not charter schools, are the threat to the AUSD.

I want to thank the AUSD Board of Education for challenging the status quo in order to give the parents and students of Antioch more options.

The American Dream is a set of ideals which includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility. Education remains the best tool for achieving this dream. As a community we should support multiple venues for our children to succeed, including charter schools.

Tom McNell

Antioch

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Letters: Founder of Antioch’s East Bay Tech Academy charter middle school offers other side of story

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Dear Editor:

For those who may not know me, let me introduce myself. I’m Jareem Gunter, an Antioch parent and the leader of the East Bay Tech Academy middle school. (We call it Tech Antioch for short.) Antioch is my home. My mother worked at Live Oak High School in the Antioch Unified School District for over 20 years until she retired last year. I was part of the opening class at Deer Valley High School, my alma mater. Now, a father with two young children, I was excited for my family to buy a home and set up roots back in Antioch.

Efforts to open Tech Antioch have raised questions about the connection between our school and Clayton Valley Charter High School. Since these concerns were first raised in the spring, numerous steps were taken to ensure Tech Antioch is completely separate from Clayton Valley. Our board was formed and includes experienced leaders in the charter school sector and a local Antioch resident, Fernando Navarro. I was named the school leader. And, we entered into a legal agreement with Clayton Valley creating a clear separation while also establishing a plan to reimburse Clayton Valley for the original investment it made into the school.

To be clear: I have no ties to Clayton Valley. Our board has no ties to Clayton Valley, my ties are to Antioch and Antioch public schools.  All my life I have attend public school, and care deeply about public school education.

We as a community, need to be honest. We need to look at the outcomes of Antioch schools and ask ourselves: Is this good enough? Last year, nearly 69 percent of students didn’t meet state English standards and 81 percent failed to meet math standards. While 80 percent of our students graduate high school, only 35 percent of those students are prepared for college. That means about two out of every three graduates leave with a diploma but not the skills they need for success if they want to pursue a career that requires a college degree. What we’re doing is not working for most children.

We are leaving too many children behind. All our children deserve and can be successful if we provide them the right opportunities. As a charter school, we can bring new ideas to our community. Our world is continually changing. We need to invest in new methods and ideas within our educational offerings.

Tech Antioch can provide an opportunity for innovation in our community and help our public schools become better. In other communities–such as Denver, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Houston and San Diego–forward-thinking leaders have focused on what children need and incorporated charter schools into their solution.

We need to spend time focused on what children in our community need. They need the right opportunities, and that can include giving them another public school option through Tech Antioch.

As a community, our current approach is not working for too many children. Our traditional school options are allowing too many children to graduate without being prepared for life. We need to try something new. My vision for Tech Antioch is to be another option for those children. Parents need to have access to another public school choice for their children. Providing our families with more opportunities for their children will only improve our district.

I want to work with the district to give children a choice. And, I want to work with other school leaders. Let’s work together to redefine how we support our children. Together, we can raise the expectations for our children and ensure they are positioned to achieve whatever dreams they have.

We can only work together if we stop political posturing and start having actual conversations. I ask that you honestly consider what our children need and welcome a partnership with our school.

Jareem Gunter, Founder/Director, East Bay Tech Academy

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Deer Valley, Antioch High Marching Bands each win first place at Lodi band review

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

DVHS Drum Major Marcanthony Ponce and AHS Drum Major Mariah Capote with their first place trophies. Photo by AUSD.

By Allen Payton

The Deer Valley High School and Antioch High School Marching Bands both took home first place trophies in their divisions for the parade competition at the 41st Annual Lodi Grape Bowl Classic Band Review on Saturday, Nov. 3. Hosted by Lodi and Tokay high schools, the review included Marching Band Parade Competition, Jazz Band Competition and Field Show Competitions for middle and high schools.

The event was held at Lawrence Elementary School, followed by a field show at the Lodi Grape Bowl, according to the Lodi Sentinel.

Susan Te contributed to this report.

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Three high-achieving Antioch students at UC Merced recognized as Chancellor’s Scholars

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, has announced the students who have been recognized as prestigious Chancellor’s Scholars. The recipients have exemplified outstanding work in the classroom, finishing with a 3.5 grade-point average or higher in both the fall and spring semesters of the 2017-2018 school year.

Chancellor’s Scholars recipients from Antioch include: Ahmed Alhag, a junior Engineering major; Harweese Marshall, a freshman Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts major; and Ryanjit Virk, a junior Natural Sciences major.

More than 750 students – the top 10 percent of the university’s student body – were honored at the Oct. 20 ceremony. Honorees received a Chancellor’s Scholars pin, personalized certificate and individual photo with Chancellor Dorothy Leland.

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OP-ED: 2018 test scores show need for charter schools

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

By John Crowder

Last week the California Department of Education released the 2018 test scores in English and math for all districts and schools in the state.  This is the fourth year of data from this latest testing scheme, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Test (SBAT), meant to align with the Common Core teaching standards and methods.  Students completing the test are placed into four broad categories in the subjects tested.  These are, Standards Not Met, Standard Nearly Met, Standard Met, and Standard Exceeded.  By combining the percentages from the latter two categories, we can compare how well schools and districts are doing in preparing students to, at a minimum, meet basic standards.

As has been the case since California began using this test in 2015, the results are not good for the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD).  AUSD students have the lowest scores of all eighteen school districts in Contra Costa County (See table below).  Further, the results for AUSD have remained, essentially, unchanged for the last four years.  In 2015, the percentage of students achieving success in English was 30%, while it is currently 31%.  In math it was 19% in 2015, and it now stands at 18%.

It is this low performance, combined with a lack of progress, that led hundreds of Antioch parents to sign the petitions and to turn out to the hearings held over the last couple of years to support bringing new charter schools, the Rocketship Elementary School and the Tech Academy Middle and High Schools, to Antioch.

The Charter School Act of 1992 was passed by the California legislature to address exactly the situation we find in Antioch.  Public charter schools, with longer school days, more interventions, and proven programs, bring hope to parents who want their children to have a good education, but who can’t obtain it from the district schools they find their children assigned to.

Parents only have one chance at ensuring their students learn the skills they need to be prepared for college and the job market.  They can’t afford to wait years, or decades, for change, especially when progress toward positive outcomes is nonexistent.  Each year of delay is another year lost.

Establishing high-quality, public charter schools in districts where students are not being adequately educated is imperative for communities where students are being failed by the education establishment when the district schools can’t, or won’t, change.

English Language Arts – Contra Costa County School Districts

Rank                            District                                                                        % Meet/Exceed

1                                  Orinda Union Elementary                                           88

2                                  Lafayette Elementary                                                  85

2                                  Moraga Elementary                                                    85

4                                  Acalanes Union High                                                 82

4                                  San Ramon Valley Unified                                        82

6                                  Walnut Creek Elementary                                           73

7                                  Canyon Elementary                                                    67

8                                  Brentwood Union Elementary                                    60

9                                  Liberty Union High                                                    58

10                                Byron Union Elementary                                            56

11                                Martinez Unified                                                        53

12                                Mt. Diablo Unified                                                     51

13                                Knightsen Elementary                                                43

14                                Oakley Union Elementary                                          39

15                                John Swett Unified                                                     37

16                                Pittsburg Unified                                                        34

16                                West Contra Costa Unified                                        34

18                                Antioch Unified                                                          31

Source:  https://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2018/Search

Mathematics – Contra Costa County School Districts

Rank                            District                                                                        % Meet/Exceed

1                                  Orinda Union Elementary                                           85

2                                  Lafayette Elementary                                                  82

3                                  Moraga Elementary                                                    79

4                                  San Ramon Valley Unified                                        77

5                                  Walnut Creek Elementary                                           71

6                                  Acalanes Union High                                                 69

7                                  Canyon Elementary                                                    65

8                                  Brentwood Union Elementary                                    50

9                                  Byron Union Elementary                                            47

10                                Martinez Unified                                                        42

11                                Mt. Diablo Unified                                                     39

12                                Knightsen Elementary                                                38

13                                Liberty Union High                                                    31

14                                Oakley Union Elementary                                          27

15                                John Swett Unified                                                     26

16                                West Contra Costa Unified                                        23

17                                Pittsburg Unified                                                        20

18                                Antioch Unified                                                          18

Source:  https://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2018/Search

Crowder is a candidate for Contra Costa County School Board, Area 4

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County School Board Trustee Belle to host School Safety Symposium Thursday in Antioch

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

 

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Two former Antioch mayors among seven candidates running for two seats on Antioch School Board

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Former Antioch Mayor Jim Davis who filed papers to run, Wednesday in a photo from Facebook, Dr. Clyde Lewis, Jr. in a photo from his LinkedIn page, and Janice Lipnisky from her Facebook page. No photo or contact information for Candida Gonzalez-Amigo could be found prior to publication time. Photos of the other three candidates were posted with a previous article. See link in first paragraph.

By Allen Payton

Former Antioch mayors Jim Davis and Mary Rocha, and five other candidates, have filed papers to run for the two seats on the Antioch School Board in the November election.  Both incumbents, Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson, chose to not run for reelection and instead will be challenging Jeff Belle for county school board. (See related article).

The four other candidates for Antioch School Board include 2018 Dozier Libbey Medical High School graduate and Antioch Youth of the Year Shagoofa Khan, who is running a joint campaign with former Antioch Measure C Citizens’ Oversight Committee Vice Chair Ellie Householder; education administrator Dr. Clyde H. Lewis, Jr., business owner Janice E. Lipnisky, who is a parent of a special needs student, and Candida Gonzalez-Amigo whose ballot designation includes financial representative.

Rocha has served in local office, both on the school board and on the city council for a total of 32 years, including four as Mayor of Antioch from 1996-2000. She lost her run for reelection to the city council in 2016.

Davis, who served on the council from 1998-2012, and mayor for his final four years, was the final candidate to file his papers and did so on Wednesday. That was the deadline which had been extended five days since at least one of the incumbents didn’t file for reelection.

In his campaign statement he said, “as of 2017, Antioch schools met basic, state literacy standards of only 22.35% and basic math standards of 14.19%.  That’s unacceptable. We owe our students better. How can we properly prepare them for a positive future if we continue business as usual?”

Davis further stated that school safety and financial responsibility and accountability are his top two priorities, to ensure Antioch students get a better education.

Householder worked for two years as a Research Analyst contractor for the school district on their Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). She is beginning a master’s degree program in Public Policy, this fall. Khan is a college student and works in sales according to her ballot designation.

Lewis earned a master’s degree in educational administration, and his doctorate in education leadership. He currently works as the Director for Workforce Development at Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS). He has two children in district schools. In his ballot statement, he wrote, I believe that Antioch schools must provide the best for our children, support our dedicated teachers and staff, and create graduates ready for college or careers. We must push our schools to provide better choices for parents, and to reach for higher standards. Quality schools are essential to maintaining a wonderful community.

Lipnisky initially pulled papers to run for city council, but changed her mind as she cares more about education and children’s issues, having dealt with the district regarding her son’s educational needs. She is the 2018 Ms. Antioch Plus Size and volunteers with the Junior Giants  youth baseball program in Antioch.

Candida-Gonzalez has served on the PTSA’s and School Site Councils for both Dallas Ranch Middle and Deer Valley High Schools and applied for the appointment to the board in 2016 which was given to Alonzo Terry, to replace Trustee Claire Smith who had resigned.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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