Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Writer says public school alternative programs take time to succeed

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Dear Editor:

After attending a few board meetings, it has become more apparent that the parents who want charter schools simply want options for their students to learn. Unfortunately, some people may not realize that when you change something it takes time because there is no instant switch that automatically changes something.

The people in favor of charter schools don’t take the time to realize what the public schools have to offer. Plus, the reason so many charter schools probably fail is because they don’t take time to put together these programs like the public schools do.

While attending these meetings, I have noticed that these people who are in favor of the charter schools attend the meetings to get their public comment out there. While this is all fine and dandy, it did not seem to me that many of them stayed long enough to hear the options that AUSD is trying to put in place. Also, these options take time because, remember there is no instant switch to make these options happen. Just like with the academies at the high school level, they did not just roll out overnight. These academies took time to roll out at the high school level, like years to become the greatness that they are. Now, because of the successful implementation of these options, oh, I meant academies, there is starting to be more options at the middle school level for students to take classes that give them options to learn.

I know a lot of parents want their students to learn how to code or learn other skills, but those programs take time to develop and these programs also take time to implement. Also, what parents may not realize is that there is this thing called expanded learning and during LCAP meetings (which all parents who want to know what’s going on should be involved in) there was a large discussion on what should we offer our AUSD students for expanded learning. Coding, engineering related skills, and other computer skills were mentioned; but what was not mentioned was anything about charter schools. Parents that want to give their students a different learning opportunity should get involved in PTSA or LCAP, which help and support all students and takes in ideas on how to improve learning and the betterment of all students.

Also, after being lied to once and then your director not knowing what he was talking about I would be skeptical about wanting to send my child to this school.

Deanna Rundall

Antioch

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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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Payton Perspective: Re-elect Joel Keller to BART Board

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Joel Keller at Antioch BART Station opening 5-25-18. Photo by Allen Payton

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Usually, I don’t recommend elected officials serving in the same office for 24 years, such as Joel Keller, who was elected to the BART Board on the same night in November 1994 that I was elected to the Antioch City Council. That’s because elected representatives tend to become complacent or arrogant in office and stop listening to their constituents, and end up doing the bidding of the powerful, special interests who support them and contribute to their re-election campaigns.

However, Joel is different. Having served on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and three of the four transportation boards in East County, including as Chairman of the Bypass Authority in 1998 when we purchased the right-of-way for the State Route 4 extension (aka The Bypass) from Lone Tree Way to Balfour Road, I’ve learned the difficult lesson that infrastructure projects can take a long time. Too much time for most all of our liking. But, that’s another issue. My point is, it’s taken that time for Joel to get BART extended to Antioch.

Although it’s not full or “real” BART, as we Antioch residents would have preferred, the bottom line is Joel was able to wade through the funding limitations from BART and the federal government, as well as the opposition by other regions in the BART District and directors who represent those regions and make his promise and commitment a reality. Antioch has a BART station. During his next four years, if re-elected, I believe Joel will be able to help deliver further extensions in East County, first to Laurel Road – which will benefit Antioch’s economic development area for job creation and serve the residents of Oakley – then to Brentwood near Sand Creek Road.

Joel has done what he said he would do, and he listens to his constituents. Most recently, Joel heard the complaints about safety on the BART system. In order to ensure the rest of the board members heard the complaints from the people in his district who can’t attend their normal day time meetings in Oakland, had the board hold a night time meeting in Pittsburg. Then, due to the overwhelming response by riders to the opening of the Antioch BART Station, Joel heard the outcry for more parking spaces, and he delivered by getting the other BART Board Members to join him in voting to fund 800 more spaces.

I believe Joel has earned one more term on the BART Board, which most likely will be his last, and recommend we re-elect him.

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Payton Perspective: If passed, no Measure W funds for pay raises until remaining additional police officers promised in Measure C are hired

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Yes, I’m still hammering the city council about fulfilling the previous council’s commitment from Measure C of hiring 22 more police “immediately”. We’ve been told by the past and current Chiefs of Police they’ve been doing all they can to make it happen. Current Chief Tammany Brooks just told me this past Thursday that he has six recruits in the academy, right now. They won’t graduate until after the new year. But, that’s a big step toward fulfilling the 2013 commitment.

They’ve given us a net seven officers, with 97 currently on the force and crime is decreasing, which is great. But, there’s not enough in the budget to pay for the additional officers due to pay raises given to all city staff by the council on Election Night in November 2016.

So, if this Measure W passes, they need to make a new commitment to not give any pay raises until those 14 more officers are hired, because that’s not why people are voting for it. They want more police and other city services, as promised in this measure.

Then the council needs to authorize the hiring of another 15 out of Measures O (the business license for rental properties tax) and W funds to get us to 126 sworn officers. That is still less than the goal of 1.2 officers per thousand population, but it will go a long way to help reduce crime in our city.

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Writer blames Frazier for gas tax increase, supports Romero for Assembly

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Dear Editor:

AB-1, Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (The Gas Tax Increase) was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Frazier (District 11).  His press release stated, “My commitment to passing a comprehensive funding plan that addresses California’s failing transportation system will not waiver.” He was right in identifying California’s system as failing, but how could he expect that more of the same failed treatment would help?

California is rated 46 comparing all states for pavement condition and congestion.  While Caltrans spends 4.7 times as much per mile as average of 49 other states, why did Mr. Frazier plan a tax increase?  If he had worked to decrease the ludicrous waste of Caltrans, no tax increase would be necessary.

The people knew better so the legislature panicked and developed Prop 69 to improve their image. If you believe that is a cure, I want to sell you my bridge in Brooklyn.  Be aware that it directs fuel tax not to only roads but to any form of public transportation.  It forces 50% to cities which is good because cities will spend it wisely, but where will the other 50% go?  Will bridges and broken pavement be improved? Taxpayer advocates have offered an alternative solution to fix our roads without a tax hike – the Road Repair Accountability Initiative.

Why didn’t Mr. Frazier’s Transportation Committee research the absurd waste of Caltrans?  If Caltrans is unable to become 400% more efficient, why not outsource road repairs or experiment with turnpikes? Some states outsource 50-85% of their work, California does 10%.  A contractor under competitive bidding will provide quality roads and control maintenance cost for fear of losing his contract.

Mr. Frazier is graded letter “F” by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers.  Is it not time to get a legislator who understands business principles.  Elect Lisa Romero. See www.electlisaromero.com.

Earl Heal

Vacaville

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Payton Perspective: Lewis, Davis for Antioch School Board, Crowder for County School Board

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

The Herald recommends Dr. Clyde Lewis, Jr., Jim Davis and John Crowder for election.

If we ever want to make things better in Antioch and our county, now is the time to elect strong leaders in education and fiscally responsible leaders, as well. If we keep electing the same kind of people over and over, who are backed by the insiders and/or employees’ unions, we’re only going to get the same results. We need to vote for candidates who will represent the parents and taxpayers, and truly put the interests of the students, first. We have three candidates from Antioch running to represent Antioch who will do just that. Two for the Antioch School Board and one for the County School Board who stand out above the crowd.

Lewis

One candidate for the Antioch School Board in this year’s election stands out above all others, and that’s Dr. Clyde Lewis, Jr. Not only has he earned a master’s degree and doctorate in education, and has been a teacher, he works in education, as well. As a plus, his children attend Antioch public schools. So, he has a personal stake in ensuring they improve. Please vote for him.

Davis

Jim Davis has served Antioch as the mayor and councilmember, and is now serving as the interim, appointed City Treasurer. Having worked in banking his entire career, Jim understands finances. He recently worked for a contractor to the Antioch school district on an energy analysis program and was able to help them save over $2 million dollars. At a time the district is experiencing declining enrollment and the resultant decline in revenue, Antioch needs a fiscal watchdog on the school board. Jim Davis is that person. While there is no conflict of interest in him serving both on the board and as City Treasurer, and being retired, he has the time, it is my hope that if he’s elected to the school board, he won’t run for election as City Treasurer in 2020.

Crowder

I’ve known John Crowder for over 20 years, since he was my son’s chess coach in elementary school. I’ve witnessed his commitment to educating students in Antioch.

He’s run a successful private academy in Antioch, and the very successful after school, Math Intensive program for students in the Antioch School District, helping advance them several grades in a matter of months.

The district he’s running to represent includes parts of Antioch.

John is for school choice, unlike his opponent, incumbent Mike Maxwell who has voted against every charter school that’s come before the board. We need to replace him with John Crowder.

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Mayor Wright explains reasons for a yes vote on Measure W

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a business owner and former CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce I came to the office of Mayor with a mindset to search through the budget and cut out the fat.  I found a city that runs with a very lean workforce and pays our non-police employees less than surrounding communities.  Any fat had already been trimmed during the recession to avoid bankruptcy.  I sat looking at a city with a revenue problem not a spending one.

To put this in perspective- Antioch has a population of 115,000 with an annual budget of $55 million compared to our neighboring city of Brentwood with a population of 65,000 and an annual budget of $59 million.  Brentwood pays more in property taxes than Antioch residents and they have more money to improve their city as a result.  As some of our residents have moved to Brentwood- they have chosen to tax themselves with a more expensive house and higher taxes.

Measure W gives us a choice to increase our financial ability to make our community safer, create more activities for our youth after school and to improve our quality of life.   A citizen’s oversight committee will help to hold future Council’s accountable and ensure that these vital resources are utilized appropriately.

We have an opportunity to come together to support a sales tax measure to raise the funds necessary to continue moving Antioch in the right direction and help us reach our full potential.  Please join me on November 6th in voting Yes on Measure W.

Sincerely,

Mayor Sean Wright– City of Antioch

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