Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Letter writer: Obamacare must be saved or people will die

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Dear Editor:

For forty years I have dedicated my professional life to helping the mentally ill, the homeless, substance abuse addicts and low income families with children.

ACA – Affordable Care Act has saved thousands of lives.  I know because many of those lives are my clients. Without ACA, those with drug addictions will be on the streets, trying to survive through stealing, breaking in to homes or stores, and other criminal acts that make our community unsafe. With ACA, my clients are in residential treatment programs and practicing full recovery.  My homeless or mentally ill clients have full medical support, getting their prescriptions so they are not delusional or dangerous.  Our clinics and hospitals need ACA to keep their doors open to our citizens, our families and the children. People will die without ACA.

Please contact your Congressman or Senator and urge them to vote to keep ACA or comparable health care for our citizens. You can contact Daily Action call 1-844-241-1141 (user friendly and free) and you will be directly connected with your Representative.

Jerri Curry, PhD Forensic Psychologist 27385, Licensed Family Therapist 19776, Certified Drug Addiction Specialist, Formerly with Contra Costa County


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Guest Commentary: Ruehlig writes of Antioch’s positives, challenges

Monday, January 9th, 2017

I enjoyed Allen Payton’s vision for 2017.  We need imaginative thinking and bold ideas to shake off stagnation.

The New Year brings new visions. With the imminent opening of a widened Highway 4 and the not too distant inauguration of the Hillcrest e-BART Antioch sits on a crossroads of promise. We all hope that it might depart its’ media image as a kicking post of bad news and instead fulfill its promise of a ‘destination’ city.

As a child I had the privilege of growing up in such a town, Great Neck, Long Island, a town depicted in Fitzgerald’s ‘Great Gatsby’. Though we lived on the modest side of town, nevertheless, we would periodically open the door of our small Tudor to find a stranger’s note asking us to kindly call them should we ever decide to move. The town was that desirable, principally because it was rated in the top ten school districts nation-wide. Case in point; my German teacher spoke nine languages and would quote from memory long passages from Goethe.

Today, we all know that the two main drivers of real estate prices are safety and the quality of local public education. At this point what Antioch needs to boost its’ profile is more targeted housing that appeals along the Trilogy senior homes model; or the Blackhawk estates that bring in the wealthy and influential. That crowd brings disposable income, businesses and, crucially, voice. This is needed in a town long the butt of media ridicule and the long standing step-child of County government attention.

Antioch is poised as it has some substantial building blocks in place. How many towns can boast the likes of the former Humphrey’s Restaurant and an elegantly restored El Campanil Theatre sitting on the Delta? How many are recipients of the Delta breeze?  Who else can count the service of AMTRAK and over two dozen parks? These include a magnificent swimming and fishing reservoir and Black Diamond Mines.

How many other places have their version of a Miracle Mile, with a medical office complex, hilltop church, community center, library (one of two in town) and swim park? And here’s one we oft forget; how many towns can claim as many un-chopped hills and not boxed, but curving, undulating streets that make neighborhoods and driving interesting.

Yes, Antioch has its pressing problems of safety, jobs, downtown revival and, yes, an academic achievement gap. There is, though, much that we can be grateful for, plenty we can build on.

We have a corps of talented and dedicated public school teachers; a cutting edge network of ten career themed academies, including the award-winning Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and law, engineering and green energy programs, to name a few; a vibrant independent learning program; terrific choice with Montessori and now Rocketship, a recently approved third charter school; and a rich tradition of Christian schools like Cornerstone, Holy Rosary, Golden Hills and Seventh Day Adventist.

Granted, too often we have a two tier system of educational proficiency haves and have-nots. My son, Joshua, as example, prospered at Deer Valley High taking Advanced Placement classes where there he experienced seeing few discipline distractions or time-consuming struggling students. He went on to Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo and within three days of graduating college got a job as an environmental engineer.

Others, though, get left behind; too often children of color or students that are homeless, latchkey, transient, special needs or English language learner. Distressingly, only 19% of our students score proficient in math. That, simply, is not tolerable. We need to solve this puzzle of bringing along all kids. That calls for bold action by school administrators instituting aggressive interventions like the after-school individualized Math Intensive program that has had such success building fundamentals.

Fact is, once you fall behind it gets harder and harder to catch up. Since nobody wishes to be labeled a failure kids pretend they don’t care and act out. Cutting class, looking tough, being defiant all speak to frustration. You can’t do algebra when you don’t know your multiplication tables or how to do long division.

This, then, also calls for help from the parents staying in the loop. Education, after all, is a three legged stool– students, teachers and parents all working together, communicating and supporting and encouraging.  Televised meetings could also help keep people on board.

My New Year goal is that one day we can all open our doors and see a note asking for us to call should we decide to move. For that to happen, It takes the will to change. With resolve we can become that destination city where we number more reasons to stay in Antioch than to go.

Walter Ruehlig

President, Antioch School Board

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Payton Perspective: High hopes and expectations for the New Year

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Payton Perspective logo 2015By Allen Payton

As we enter a new year, hopes and expectations are high as we have new local and will soon have new national leaders. They made many commitments during their campaigns and we expect them to work to fulfill them.

Thinking about the new year and all its possibilities, I have a list of the things I hope and expect will and can happen.

First, I hope that our new mayor and mayor pro tem will have the help of the rest of the council, as they lead Antioch to greater safety and less crime, with a fully staffed police department of 111 sworn officers, as we were promised in 2013.

Second, I hope the new school board member, working with the new president and vice president, will ensure greater transparency by televising and live streaming their meetings, so that we the people can better know what’s going on with our government for the benefit of our students in our schools.

Third, I hope and pray the City can finalize the agreement for the lease or sale of Humphrey’s restaurant and breathe life back into that waterfront facility with its awesome location and views.

Fourth, I hope the County will fund the completion of the final two lanes of L Street between 10th and 18th Streets to complete the four-lane entrance from Highway 4 into Rivertown.

Then, I hope the Council will finally rename L Street to Marina Way and give the restaurant an address of 1 Marina Way. Plus, rename A and West 2nd Streets to Rivertown and West Rivertown Drive to provide permanent marketing of Antioch’s historic downtown.

Next, I hope the Council will approve the kind of upscale homes Antioch needs, like Walnut Creek, Brentwood and the San Ramon Valley already have, which will attract executives and business owners to town, who will bring their companies with them and employ our people locally.

My hope is that the Contra Costa Transportation Authority creates a new funding plan that includes Route 239, the long-proposed four-lane freeway between Brentwood and Tracy, which will secure East County’s economic future.

I also hope the Council will place the proposal for a downtown park and event center on the ballot to decide the issue once and for all, then get moving in whichever direction the public votes.

I wish the City would contract out the operations of the water park to make it profitable or at least break even.

Finally, I hope the Council will move forward on the plans for a deep water port along Wilbur Avenue to bring high-paying, clean technology and manufacturing jobs to Antioch.

Thank you for reading the Herald and following us on Facebook and Twitter, this past year. Have a safe and Happy New Year! God bless you, God bless Antioch and may it be successful and prosperous for all of us.

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Guest Commentary – 2016: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Friday, December 30th, 2016

By John W. Whitehead

“What’s past is prologue.” ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year this has been.

Endless wars. Toxic politics. Violence. Hunger. Police shootings. Mass shootings. Economic downturns. Political circuses. Senseless tragedies. Loss. Heartache. Intolerance. Prejudice. Hatred. Apathy. Meanness. Cruelty. Poverty. Inhumanity. Greed.

Here’s just a small sampling of what we’ve suffered through in 2016.

After three years of increasingly toxic politics, the ruling oligarchy won and “we the people” lost. The FBI’s investigation of Hillary’s emails ended with a whimper, rather than a bang. FBI director James Comey declared Clinton’s use of a private email server to be careless rather than criminal. Bernie Sanders sparked a movement only to turn into a cheerleader for Hillary Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election. Donald Trump won the White House while the American people lost any hope of ending the corporate elite’s grip on the government.

The government declared war on so-called “fake news” while continuing to peddle its own brand of propaganda. President Obama quietly re-upped the National Defense Authorization Act, including a provision that establishes a government agency to purportedly counter propaganda and disinformation.

More people died at the hands of the police. Shootings of unarmed citizens (especially African-Americans) by police claimed more lives than previously estimated, reinforcing concerns about police misconduct and the use of excessive force. Police in Baton Rouge shot Alton Sterling. Police in St. Paul shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Ohio police shot 13-year-old Tyre King after the boy pulls out a BB gun. Wisconsin was locked down after protests erupt over a police shooting of a fleeing man. Oklahoma police shot and killed Terence Crutcher during a traffic stop while the man’s hands were raised in the air. North Carolina police killed Keith Lamont Scott, spurring two nights of violent protests. San Diego police killed Alfred Olango after he removed a vape smoking device from his pocket. Los Angeles police shot Carnell Snell Jr. after he fled a vehicle with a paper license plate.

We lost some bright stars this year. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia’s death left the court deadlocked and his successor up for grabs. Joining the ranks of the notable deceased were Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Fidel Castro, Leonard Cohen, Carrie Fisher, John Glenn, Merle Haggard, Harper Lee, George Michael, Prince, Nancy Reagan, Janet Reno, Elie Wiesel, and Gene Wilder.

Diseases claimed more lives. The deadly Zika virus spread outwards from Latin America and into the U.S.

The rich got richer. The Panama Papers leak pulled back the curtain on schemes by the wealthy to hide their funds in shell companies.

Free speech was dealt one knock-out punch after another. First Amendment activities were pummeled, punched, kicked, choked, chained and generally gagged all across the country. The reasons for such censorship varied widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

The debate over equality took many forms. African-Americans boycotted the Oscars over the absence of nominations for people of color, while the Treasury Department announced its decision to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. North Carolina’s debate over transgender bathrooms ignited a nationwide fury. Meanwhile, the U.S. military opened its doors to transgender individuals. A unanimous Supreme Court affirmed a Texas law that counts everyone, not just eligible voters, in determining legislative districts. The nation’s highest court also upheld affirmative action, while declaring a Texas law on abortion clinics to be an unnecessary burden on women.

Environmental concerns were downplayed in favor of corporate interests. Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water was declared a state and federal emergency, while thousands protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and its impact on water sources.

Technology rendered Americans vulnerable to threats from government spies, police, hackers and power failures. The Justice Department battled Apple in court over access to its customers’ locked, encrypted iPhones. Microsoft sued the U.S. government over its access to customers’ emails and files without their knowledge. Yahoo confirmed that over half a billion user accounts had been hacked. Police departments across the country continued to use Stingray devices to collect cellphone data in real time, often without a warrant. A six-hour system shutdown resulted in hundreds of Delta flights being cancelled and thousands of people stranded.

Police became even more militarized and weaponized. Despite concerns about the government’s steady transformation of local police into a standing military army, local police agencies continued to acquire weaponry, training and equipment suited for the battlefield. In North Dakota, for instance, police were authorized to acquire and use armed drones. Likewise, the use of SWAT teams for routine policing tasks has increased the danger for police and citizens alike.

Children were hurt. A 17-year-old endangered silverback gorilla was shot preemptively after a 3-year-old child climbed into its zoo enclosure. In Disney World, an alligator snatched a 2-year-old boy off one of the resort’s man-made beaches. A school bus crash in Tennessee killed five children. And police resource officers made schools less safe, with students being arrested, tasered and severely disciplined for minor infractions.

Computers asserted their superiority over their human counterparts, who were easily controlled by bread and circuses. Google’s artificial intelligence program, AlphaGo, defeated its human opponent in a DeepMind Challenge Match. Pokemon Go took the world by storm and turned users into mindless entertainment zombies.

Terrorism took many forms. Brussels was locked down in the wake of terrorist attacks that killed dozens and wounded hundreds. A shootout between a gunman and police wrought havoc on a gay nightclub in Orlando. Terrorists armed with explosives and guns opened fire in Istanbul Airport. A trucker drives into a crowd of revelers on Bastille Day in France. Acts of suspected terrorism take place throughout Germany, including attacks using axes, knives and machetes. Japan undergoes a mass killing when a man armed with a knife targets disabled patients at a care facility. Syria continued to be ravaged by bomb strikes, terrorism and international conflict.

Science crossed into new frontiers. Doctors announced the birth of the first healthy three-parent baby created with DNA from three separate people. Elon Musk outlined his plan to populate Mars.

Tragedies abounded. An Amtrak train derailed outside of Philadelphia. A commuter train crashed through a barrier in New Jersey. Floods in Texas killed nine soldiers stationed at Fort Hood. Heatwaves swept the southwest, fueling wildfires. Flash floods and heavy rain devastated parts of Maryland and Louisiana.

The nanny state went into overdrive. Philadelphia gave the green light to a tax on sugary drinks. The FDA issued guidelines to urge food manufacturers and chain restaurants to reduce salt use.

The government waged a war on cash. Not content to swindle, cheat, scam, and generally defraud Americans by way of wasteful pork barrel legislation, asset forfeiture schemes, and costly stimulus packages, the government and its corporate partners in crime came up with a new scheme to not only scam taxpayers out of what’s left of their paychecks but also make us foot the bill. The government’s war on cash is a concerted campaign to do away with large bills such as $20s, $50s, $100s and shift consumers towards a digital mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient.

The Deep State reared its ugly head. Comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes, this government within a government is the real reason “we the people” have no real control over our so-called representatives. It’s every facet of a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption and abusive tactics. These are the key players that drive the shadow government. They are the hidden face of the American police state that has continued past Election Day.

The U.S. military industrial complex—aided by the Obama administration—armed the world while padding its own pockets. According to the Center for International Policy, President Obama has brokered more arms deals than any administration since World War II. For instance, the U.S. agreed to provide Israel with $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years, in exchange for Israel committing to buy U.S. weapons.

Now that’s not to say that 2016 didn’t have its high points, as well, but it’s awfully hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

Frequently, I receive emails from people urging me to leave the country before the “hammer falls.” However, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, there is nowhere in the world to escape from the injustice of tyrants, bullies and petty dictators. As Ronald Reagan recognized back in 1964, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.”

Let’s not take the mistakes of 2016 into a new year with us. The election is over. The oligarchs remain in power. The police state is marching forward, more powerful than ever. All signs point to business as usual. The game continues to be rigged.

The lesson for those of us in the American police state is simply this: if there is to be any hope for freedom in 2017, it rests with “we the people” engaging in local, grassroots activism that transforms our communities and our government from the ground up.

Let’s get started.


Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.orgClick here to read more of John Whitehead’s commentaries.

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Letter writer agrees with commentary against Delta Tunnels, wants more good news

Thursday, December 29th, 2016


I appreciate the posting of this commentary by the Antioch Herald and look forward to much more factual news and commentaries regarding the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary in future publications. What happens with the water that passes through the river by Antioch is of utmost importance to every Antioch citizen.

Like the consistent reportings of killings, robberies, etc. in Antioch from the Herald, I encourage civic articles related to civic government and leaders, our environmental resources to water, clean air and utilities, healthcare issues in Antioch, issues that are addressing the homeless, highlighting leadership that is actually changing the way the Council operates to enhance business growth, stop spending dollars on the same-ole (the raise to city workers-excuse me, they, too should pull in their belts-and do the work that they are hired to do).

Antioch at this point is now as a high-crime area, government that is running as they did in the good ole days. This city is large in population, most of its residents are in cars for hours getting to and from work. How could they engage in this community? They are exhausted.

Yet the beat goes on for the 12 years I have been a resident. Many have moved and will move including me. I am not a killer, robber, pay good taxes, have pride in my home and neighborhood though many living right by me don’t. Please help change the “culture and thus image” of Antioch, CA.

Linda Soliven

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Guest Commentary: Single tunnel option not a quick fix for the Delta

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore The Delta

These are not good times for Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels (WaterFix) proposal.

The twin 40-foot-diameter, 30-mile-long tunnels would harvest Sacramento River water before it flows through the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. A vast majority of this water would be sent to Big Ag operations like The Wonderful Company in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. It will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

But as the San Francisco Chronicle recently editorialized, “The tunnel project, now marketed to Californians as WaterFix, lacks community trust and political will and is saddled with a $16 billion (and growing) price tag that appears much larger than water agencies are willing to pay.

“Water districts, rural users, and entire cities like San Diego and Santa Monica are starting to question the wisdom or affordability of such a big project that does not deliver one new drop of new water.
“This November, a coalition of conservation and public interest organizations sent a letter to the Obama administration asking them to terminate the proposal so his legacy isn’t dragged down by a financial and environmental nightmare. The groups explain how the next administration will blame the boondoggle on Obama. They will say:
“We inherited the WaterFix from the previous administration and presumed that they knew what they were doing and had fully evaluated the project in good faith when they determined it should go forward.”
As environmental and financial obstacles continue to mount for the proposal, California water policy wonks are now scrambling for a viable Plan B.

The influential Public Policy Institute of California recently took a step back from support for the Twin Tunnels and offered a scaled back, Plan B. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee they offer, A Grand Compromise for the Delta.
PPIC now proposes a smaller plan they believe can settle the water wars over the Bay-Delta. Their proposal includes one-tunnel, managing water flows for entire ecosystems not just specific species, strengthening Delta levees, and letting communities tap into tunnel water supplies where local water is salty.

Restore the Delta is certainly encouraged the Public Policy Institute of California has backed down from support for the highly destructive Twin Delta Tunnels proposal. But the scaled-back project the PPIC now proposes is a completely different and new project. Before it can be analyzed, we still need to figure out how much water the Delta needs to maintain ecological health for the communities who live there and the species who depend on a healthy estuary.

The State Water Board’s flow hearings for the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers must be completed before any project can be analyzed.

Independent fishery experts now say that the San Joaquin River needs at least 50 percent unimpaired flows to stop extinction and achieve legally required doubling goals for salmon.

Any new tunnel proposal would, we hope, include a more comprehensive public scoping process so as to include Delta environmental justice communities, made up of hundreds of thousands of residents. We would also hope for a more transparent environmental and economic review process with better science and better public debate than what was put forth for the current Delta Tunnels proposal. CA WaterFix touts hundreds of meetings over the last ten years, but most were never properly noticed to Delta communities for meaningful participation.

If, indeed, support for the Big Twin Tunnels project is fading, let’s kill that proposal once and for all. Californians who voted in 1982 against the Peripheral Canal assumed we had made that decision long ago.
In an era of climate change and shrinking snowpack in the Sierra, less snowmelt means that by the time the expensive Twin Tunnels project would be finished, it may sit empty most of the time. The same may be true for one tunnel.  We don’t know yet.

Instead, we should invest in California’s water future. Southern California already taking the lead on the cutting edge of a water technology. Stormwater harvesting, conservation, water recycling, and groundwater recharging are reducing the need for imported water to the Southland. Many of these ideas can be found in a report titled A Sustainable Water Plan for California by the Environmental Water Caucus.

The Delta Tunnels, even a scaled back version, may not be the best use of limited funds. Let’s kill off the big Delta Tunnels plan once and for all. Then we can redirect those funds to create local jobs that build water sustainability by adding new water into the system. That is the path to provide real security for California’s future.

Originally published by KCET, December 19, 2016. Republished with permission. Commentaries are the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of KCETLink.

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Op/Ed: School Board’s Rocketship vote was “watershed event” for Antioch

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

By Dr. Lamont A. Francies

Last Wednesday, in what was truly a watershed event for the city of Antioch, the Antioch Unified School District Board of Education voted 3-2 to approve the application by Rocketship Education to open a public, elementary, charter school in our town.  A multicultural coalition of community members turned out in large number to support a better future for our children. The community rejected the soft bigotry of low expectations often placed on students of color, and instead advocated for educational opportunity for all, not just those with the economic means to obtain a better option for their children.

The night was not about reproving teachers, but improving students. The decision gave parents options when facing educational obstacles. We can no longer afford to be more interested in saving schools than saving the children that actually occupy them. For people of color, education has long been a ticket to freedom, a ladder out of the pit of poverty, thus making it the civil rights issue of our time. African-Americans seeking a better life have been proponents of school choice since the days of slavery.  They created Freedom Schools, now the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which rebelled against Jim Crow and economic exploitation.

In the end, though, enough Board members recognized that the conversation had to change.  This wasn’t about good versus bad teachers, but a lack of viable options, a lack of real choices, a lack of competition that has resulted in a system that, for too long, has simply become, “a pipeline to prison” for many young people in our community.

Too many of our schools have become failure factories more interested in filling seats than filling minds.  Wednesday night was about breaking up the bureaucracy and giving parents today the choice for a better tomorrow. In 2016, failure is no longer an option, good intent must be replaced by better outcomes. The arrival of high performing schools is good for all mediums of education in Antioch because at the end of the day: rising tides lift all boats.

Francies is a former counselor in the Antioch school district and pastor of Delta Bay Church of Christ in Antioch.

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Payton Perspective: Competition breeds excellence including in education and Antioch needs it now, more than ever

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Payton Perspective logo 2015By Allen Payton

There’s an old saying that competition breeds excellence. Why? Because when you compete to win, you’re forced to become better and hopefully, better than your competition, whether it’s in sports, business, politics or, yes, even in education.

Yet, the education establishment and lobby, made up mostly of teachers, administrators and those on the left of the political spectrum in America, California and in Antioch, who have had a hold on education policy for far too long (and how’s that been working for our children?) in general, oppose competition in education. They prefer that all students are educated in government-run schools, where they can be indoctrinated and taught what to learn, not necessarily how to learn. They also want to ensure the money will continue to flow based on how many behinds are in the seats, regardless of whether or not the student gets advanced on to the next grade without mastering what was taught in their current grade level, and then graduating and being sent out into the world, sometimes without even being able to read or write properly.

And they really hate being proven inferior in what and how they teach our children, and just can’t admit it when something or someone else does it better.

They clearly oppose vouchers in K-12 education, giving parents the choice of where best to spend their own tax dollars and send their children to whichever school they want. Yet, that’s exactly what happens with the federal Pell Grant at the college level. If it’s good enough and has been working fine for years at that level, why isn’t it good enough at the K-12 level of education? That makes no sense to me.

The education establishment has learned to live with public charter schools started by a school district. But, they and others on the left, with their nanny-state mentality think they can run our lives better than we can and spend our money better than we can. They also think they can educate our children better than the parents can or private schools, including those run by religious institutions. They complain that it’s not fair that the better and more well-off students get to escape the failing, public institutions and leave the rest of the lower performing students behind.

But, now they’re even opposed to the private, non-profit organizations that run public charter schools, which receive and use public tax dollars. That’s in spite of the fact those schools, like Rocketship’s are taking some of the lowest-performing students and helping them advance at a much faster rate, to where they out perform their former classmates.

Those schools are one of the ways  the leaders on the left in our state government have been willing to compromise on the issue, to allow for competition and choice in education to ensure  a better one for our students. But, the education establishment and lobby still opposes them and will say and do whatever is necessary to keep them from being approved. Since they can’t win their argument on the merits, they have to come up with other reasons to oppose the more successful programs and schools, like Rocketship’s, such as their charter petition isn’t acceptable or that they can’t achieve what they claim.

Really? Have they not seen the statistics of students in the Rocketship schools? Are they choosing to ignore the facts?

What makes me scratch my head is that those same individuals on the left usually support choice when it comes to killing children before they’re born through abortion on demand and now, even government funding of abortion, but not when it comes to educating them? That makes no sense to me, either.

First of all, they’re our children and grandchildren, not the government’s, the teachers, the faculty’s or the staff’s. Second, the primary educators in children’s lives are their parents or whoever is raising them, be it a guardian or grandparent, not the government, nor the teachers, faculty or staff of any school. They are merely agents of the parents, etc.  who are contracted to educate the children during the time they have them each school day. I recognize that not all parents do a good job and just want and expect the public schools to educate their children for them. On the other hand, many parents want a better education for their children, but don’t have the time or ability to home-school them or the means to send them to a private, parochial school and need an option like Rocketship.

Even Antioch’s own Tom Torlakson, a former Antioch Unified teacher and now the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, recognizes that fact and was instrumental in approving Rocketship’s newest charter school in Concord in the Mt. Diablo School District, earlier this year. Interestingly enough, he was backed for office by the California Education Association, the state teachers’ union. It’s time for Tom’s friends and supporters to join him in recognizing what’s best for Antioch’s and California’s public school students.

With the abysmal performance of the students in Antioch elementary schools, we need Rocketship, now more than ever and many parents want the choice of their better performing schools.  Hopefully, our school district can learn a thing or two from Rocketship and apply their better practices, for the benefit of all Antioch students, not just those fortunate enough to win the lottery that will be held for students to be included in their new school.

Frankly, while I don’t expect it, seeing who was backed by the local teachers and staff in the most recent election, the bottom line is if the five current Antioch School Board Trustees really care about the education of the students in the district – as they each claim, – they will ignore the district staff’s opposition, and all vote “yes” on Rocketship’s petition, Wednesday night. Anything else is just pandering to a special interest group and not voting in the best interest of the students, their parents or the public.

While my only child, who is a product of a mix of both private and public schools in Antioch, is an adult, now – and he hasn’t yet married and given me any grandchildren, who attend Antioch public schools (but that’s OK, because I’m far too young to be a grandfather), from a self-interest standpoint, I and others without children or grandchildren in district schools will benefit by an improved education for the students. Because, where there are better schools, property values increase, which results in greater property taxes being paid to our city, which results in more and hopefully, better city services, including more police and Code Enforcement, without tax increases, which will reduce crime and blight in Antioch. That will in turn attract executives and business owners to our city to buy the new homes that have recently been approved, and who will bring their businesses and create local jobs in town, so fewer of our residents will have to commute to work. Those folks, in turn will be home earlier each work night, and available to their children and able to be more involved in the community.

So, we all have a stake in improving the education of students in Antioch schools and it can and needs to be an upward spiral, instead of the downward one we’ve been experiencing for the past 10 years.

In Proverbs 27:17 in the Bible it is written “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” So, even working with someone can make you better and it doesn’t always require competition. That’s what needs to happen in the case of Rocketship’s charter school petition. Right now, with Antioch’s proficiency levels in math and English among elementary students being so low, in fact the lowest in school districts in East County, anything that’s proven successful, that can and will improve the education of the students in our district, must be done.

So, instead of working against Rocketship with their proven success rate, the Antioch Unified School District should be working with them. Sure they’re imperfect and can most likely improve on what and how they do things, and can even perhaps learn from things that Antioch schools do different and better. But, Rocketship schools are doing much better than the schools in Antioch and I’d say there’s more for Antioch to learn and benefit from if the relationship is consummated, Wednesday night.

One thing must be said about the recent election and Rocketship’s involvement in it. I don’t appreciate the fact that at least one Rocketship Board member chose to make a contribution to each of Fernando Navarro’s and Alonzo Terry’s campaigns, giving an appearance of an attempt to influence the vote, fodder for their opponents to use it as a sign of some kind of lack of integrity on both the candidates part and Rocketship’s part, and serving to publicly embarrass the candidates. I would advise Rocketship’s CEO and Founder to ensure that doesn’t happen again. How foolish can he and his board members be? What were they thinking would happen?

But, on the other hand, they were small contributions of $125 each and Terry chose to return the contribution to his campaign, and there was nothing illegal about it. At the same time, anyone who opposed those two candidates or uses that as a basis to oppose Rocketship’s charter petition, or expect Navarro – who didn’t return the contribution to his campaign – to recuse himself from the vote, better be consistent and have the same opinion of the candidates backed financially by the Antioch teachers and staff, from whom they received much more money, when it comes time for a vote on their next contracts.

In words similar to what Moses said to Pharoah, when demanding the release of the Israelites from their captivity and enslavement, I say to the school board – “let our students go.” So, my encouragement to the Trustees is to vote for choice in education, vote for competition, vote for excellence, and vote yes on the Rocketship petition.

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