In farewell comments Trustee Householder ends tumultuous term ripping Antioch School District

AUSD Trustee Ellie Householder during her final board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. Photo by Allen D. Payton

During final board meeting says student achievement “abysmal”, district “failing students”

By Allen D. Payton

During her final meeting as a member of the Antioch School Board, Trustee Ellie Householder offered prepared, farewell remarks in which she mentioned her accomplishments and criticized the district for the low performance of students in math and English. “We are failing our students, especially those who are Black, Brown, poor, or historically marginalized,” she said and that she was leaving the role with a “sense of feeling accomplished, but unsatisfied. A feeling of happiness but being misunderstood.” Householder said her focus on the board has been “about our students”.

She also defended her actions during the year she was board president and the post on her Twitter feed in support of the protest over the approval of six School Resource Officers for which Householder was later censured by her fellow board members. One of her first actions as board president was an unsuccessful attempt to terminate Superintendent Stephanie Anello.

At one point during that year, she wouldn’t allow Anello to speak claiming, “you’re not recognized” which was met with criticism and derision from teachers and members of the public. Some wore shirts with that phrase emblazoned on them while attending future board meetings.

Householder spoke of receiving a “seemingly endless barrage of online hatred and threats” for which she offered some examples. She also mentioned two attempts to remove her as board president as well as facing recall, which began last year but the effort was dropped by organizers earlier this year.

Householder later said she obtained the statistics shared in her comments from California Department of Education website at: 

Householder’s Prepared Remarks

Following are her complete, prepared remarks:

“I say this with the utmost sincerity: it has been an honor to represent our community as the youngest ever elected to the Antioch Unified School District, Board of Education, Trustee. And again, as the youngest ever to serve as AUSD Board President.

As a product of AUSD, and proud continuation high school graduate, the depth of love and responsibility I have felt for this role cannot be overstated.

My love, however, as many here well know, rarely comes in the form of something sugar coated and sweet. And is more often, and aptly, described as a splash of cold water to the face, a wakeup call. As I have said, many times, on this Board, that in order to truly love something, you must be able to be critical of it.

My critiques or suggestions, or observations, or whatever one wishes to label it has always had the intent to simply speak truth to power. Meaning… to stand up for what’s right; to focus on what is happening; and share how I believe things can change.

The heartbreaking reality is the student achievement in this district is abysmal.

According to the District’s most recent testing, 64% of our students are not meeting Math standards; 48% of our students are not meeting English standards.

These numbers are even more alarming when we disaggregate the data 63% of the African American students are not meeting English standards; 54% of economically disadvantaged students are not meeting English standards; 77% of the African American students are not meeting Math standards; 69% of economically disadvantaged students not meeting Math standards. This means, a vast majority of our students are not graduating with the skills they need to become productive members of our society.

Regardless of the narrative spin that has often been made in regards to this data these numbers don’t lie. We are failing our students, especially those who are Black, Brown, poor, or historically marginalized. Period.

In response to these numbers, I have used my vote and my power to fight against the status quo, and the way things have always been done, because the way things have always been done isn’t working.

  • I spearheaded the initiative to establish a student board member representative
  • I made many attempts to reach across the aisle to my colleagues to develop a set of shared board goals
  • I have called for the fair and transparent evaluation of district leadership
  • I ensured the fair treatment of charter schools
  • I introduced the Pride Month Resolution, which led to the first Pride Flag being flown in AUSD.
  • I voted against the firing of librarians, counselors, and other essential staff.

Even in my losses, for which there have been plenty, I never threw away a vote, or avoided difficult decisions. I voted based on principal and conscious, always. Whether it was against using supplemental and concentration grant funds for mediocre photographers or against unfair raises, I always used my vote, my voice, to make a point.

Yet, somewhat ironically, I leave my role as school board trustee, today, with such an eerily similar feeling to the one I had when I graduated high school in this district. This sense of feeling accomplished, but unsatisfied. A feeling of happiness but being misunderstood.

I believe what I have endured in my short few years here is unlike many others. Countless hours, and I mean hours, of hate filled comments during board meetings.

Additionally, I’ve received a seemingly endless barrage of online hatred and threats, one of which was a message sent to me from an anonymous account of a photo of a close relative’s home here in Antioch, their address, and laughing emojis; followed shortly by another message from another anonymous account with a gun.

  • I was censured over a tweet that supported student protestors fighting against cops in schools
  • There was not just one attempt to remove me as board president, but two
  • There was even a failed recall attempt to remove me from the board

All because I refuse to stay silent and fall in line.

How do you do it? Well, it’s simple. It’s not about me. It’s about our students. And the abysmal outcomes they have here in our district.

Regardless of the continued attack over the last four years I have remain steadfast in my belief that we can, should, and could be doing more for the children of the Antioch unified school district.

Again, the majority of students of color, economically disadvantaged, and students with special needs are failing in AUSD.

I would like to express my desire that individuals on this board, and in our community, listen for understanding and not be so quick to judge.

I also hope that current members and future members of this board do their homework read the budget reports, read the LCAP, look at the data.

It’s okay to be bold and it’s okay to not agree.

What is not okay is the race and class disparities that undeniably exist for students within this district.

As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this roller coaster four years.

My family. My brother and sister, whose unwavering support and belief in me is the only reason I sit here today. My mom, dad, stepmom, and stepdad, for showering me with love and admiration.

An extra special shout-out to Mr. Willie Mims, who, since my first day on this Board, has provided support and guidance.

Thank you to everyone who believed in me, and heard me out, sent me love, prayers, and ideas.

I want to officially end by saying three things:

  1. Black Lives Matter,
  2. Climate change is real; and
  3. Our kids deserve better.

Thank you.”

When Householder concluded, it was met with silence as no applause was offered by the audience in the packed board meeting room.

A video of her remarks can be seen on the Antioch Herald Facebook page.

Anello presented Householder with her photo that hung in the school district office that had a large bow on it.

At their next meeting on December 14, the board will welcome new member Dr. Jaguanana “Jag” Lathan, elected without opposition in the district’s new Area 2 and welcome back re-elected Trustee Mary Rocha who won in the new Area 5. Both will be administered their oaths of office that night.

the attachments to this post:

Ellie Householder final AUSD board mtg 11-16-22

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