Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Antioch school district shares what’s being done to help third graders reading below grade level

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Source: California Reading Coalition

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The email received by the Herald from AUSD Associate Superintendent, Educational Services,  Christine Ibarra, on Thursday, Sept. 30 was missed until, yesterday. She responded to questions sent on Monday, Sept. 27 for the article entitled, “Statewide report shows 76% of Antioch third graders reading below grade level for 2017-18, 2018-19 school years.” While they’ve been added to the article, it’s best they be published separately. Apologies to Ms. Ibarra, district staff and our readers for the oversight. Allen Payton

9/30/21 UPDATE: AUSD Responds – Following are the Herald’s questions and the answers from Associate Superintendent Christine Ibarra:

Q – What is being done to rectify this situation? What ideas, programs, or suggestions have any of the trustees proposed during their terms on the board? Have any been approved and implemented? If so, what are the results? If so or if not, what do you propose be done?

A – AUSD is heavily invested in a computer adaptive instructional program known as iReady.  All students in grades K-8th participate in this research-based program.  This program provides three diagnostic assessments per year and produces individualized placement levels in reading.  The students then engage in a pathway of instruction that is both done within the computerized program itself and supported by intervention prep teachers on campuses with direct instruction that is tailored to the individual levels and needs of each student.  Since this is our third year utilizing this program, we have data that shows significant growth in students’ reading levels and abilities at all grade levels even during distance learning.

Furthermore, AUSD has provided every elementary school with a full-time intervention teacher who works with small groups providing intentional and targeted support in areas of need, specifically in fluency skills and reading comprehension. These intervention teachers utilize a wide array of differentiation strategies and support to ensure their time with student groups is maximized for the greatest impact on student growth and achievement.

In addition, AUSD has an MOU with UC Berkeley’s California Reading and Literacy Project for the 2021-2022 school year.  This partnership provides professional learning for all teachers TK-6th grade specifically focused on developing teachers’ content knowledge and expanding their teaching strategies guided by the state-adopted frameworks, content standards, and the science of reading.

Read 180 is a research-based program being reintroduced to AUSD intended for secondary students who are performing two or more years behind grade level in Reading.

AUSD is also heavily invested in the AVID programming and professional learning community which has provided hundreds of teachers across all grade levels with outstanding workshops focused on critical reading strategies across content areas so that all teachers have tools and supports to support reading levels at any grade level.  This summer alone, we had 50 teachers attend virtually.

The iReady program, Read 180, the AVID program, and the UC Berkeley partnership are Board approved contracts and the intervention teaching positions were board approved via the LCAP and Expanded Learning Opportunities grant.

Q – Since education begins at home, what is being done to work with the parents or guardians of the students reading below grade level to help them?

A – We provided ongoing trainings and support during school closures remotely in both English and Spanish. The parent trainings were not only for technology support efforts but were designed to also increase parents’ capacity to support their students at home and in their academics.  iReady specifically provided parent institutes that were widely attended virtually.  Since returning to in-person learning, we have worked closely with our District English Language Advisory Committees (DELAC) as well as our Parent Advisory Committees (PACs) and Site Councils from all schools across the district to assess what parents need and are interested in engaging in to support their students’ academic achievement.  Most, if not all of our elementary and middle schools, host parent training nights focused on both literacy and mathematics and are working to determine how to continue that effort with COVID-19 protocols in place this year.

Q – For the Hispanic/Latino students, is it a matter of Spanish being the primary language at home? How many ESL students are there in the district, please?

A – AUSD currently serves 2,687 English Learners (EL) and has over 450 students being tested to determine their English Learner status as of today.  Although Spanish is the largest group of English Learners’ population in AUSD, we have over 30 different languages spoken within our EL population.

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) English Learning Arts AUSD vs Rocketship Delta Prep 2018-19. Source: CAASPP

Q – Have there been any efforts to work with Rocketship Delta Prep to learn what their best practices are which, according to their reports, show significant advancement among their students and in just one school year, and implement them in district schools?

A – The AUSD Educational Services department meets annually with Rocketship and reviews their programming efforts as required. Best practices are shared and exchanged during those meetings.  Since we have not had summative state data results in the last two years, the conversation has not been directly about the improvement of test scores.  In the 2019 CAASPP, AUSD students performed higher in English Language Arts.

Q – On whom does the responsibility lay for this, the board, superintendent, principals, teachers and/or parents?

Are there subject matters being taught in the classroom that aren’t required that take time away from focusing on reading skills?

A – Educating students and ensuring students have all the supports and opportunities they deserve and require is a collective responsibility.  When we can work together to that end, we will see students reach their full potential.

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Thieves steal $15K of video equipment from Antioch’s Deer Valley High last Saturday morning

Friday, October 15th, 2021

Two thieves can be seen inside the Deer Valley High School video equipment room, early Saturday morning, Oct. 9, 2021. Surveillance video screenshot

Covered by insurance, some replacement equipment already ordered – Superintendent Anello

“the burglars…forced their way into the room” – Principal Oyebade

By Allen Payton

According to a KRON4 TV news report Thursday night, $15,000 of video equipment was stolen from Deer Valley High School, early last Saturday morning. It was used for the class taught by video productions teacher, Kiel Olff “to produce award-winning content for Deer Valley TV, including news, high school sports, and entertainment.” The theft was caught on surveillance video at 3:35 AM. At least two thieves were involved and can be seen and heard talking in the video.

Questions were asked of Superintendent Stephanie Anello, Principal Olubukola “Bukky” Oyebade and Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield: “Were the police contacted about it? Besides video productions teacher, Kiel Olff, how many people have access and/or keys to the room where the equipment is stored? Do they include students? Who knew that equipment was stored there? Any leads on the suspect(s)? Does the district have insurance to cover the loss, so that a GoFundMe page isn’t necessary? Is that a usual and accepted practice for a faculty member to replace stolen school equipment? Are there any other details about the incident so that we can get the information to the public to help in the apprehension of the suspect(s) and return of the equipment?”

Similar questions were also sent to Olff, Friday afternoon.

Anello responded, “Yes, the District has insurance so the choice to do a GoFundMe page appears to be a site or teacher decision. The equipment will be replaced (critical equipment has already been ordered).”

Principal Oyebade also responded with more details, adding, “the burglars did not use keys and forced their way into the rooms.  Access to keys is limited and only on a need basis. No students have keys. We are cooperating with the police on this matter and working with our district to replace the items. As of Wednesday afternoon, we had placed a first round order to replace equipment so the class could continue to function.”

Asked why the public is just now learning about this, she did not respond prior to publication time.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Recall leaders of Antioch school board trustee ask for vote to censure her on next meeting agenda

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Screenshot of Householder’s post on her official Facebook page on Oct. 10, 2021, of a video of a Saturday Night Live skit poking fun at parents who speak at school board meetings.

Join Trustee Mary Rocha in effort; accuse Householder of cyber-bullying; also ask for social media policy

She supports call for U.S. Justice Department, FBI, Homeland Security and Secret Service to help monitor threat levels and assess risks to students, educators, board members and school buildings.

“The Antioch School Board has not been immune to these vicious commenters during Board meetings.” – AUSD Trustee and Board President Ellie Householder

Won’t say what threats she or other board members have received

By Allen Payton

In an email to Antioch Unified School District superintendent, Stephanie Anello, the proponents of the recall of trustee and board president Ellie Householder, have asked that a vote to censure her be placed on the next meeting agenda.

They join Trustee Mary Rocha who called for the same thing at the end of the school board’s last meeting. Under Future Agenda Items Rocha said, “At this time, I’d like to bring forward a censureship of Trustee Householder and the need for Vice President Lewis to bring it forward, so the chair does not remove it.” (See related article)

If the censure vote occurs and is approved, it will be the second time Householder has been censured by the school board. She was censured, last year for comments made on her Twitter feed against Rocha. (See related article)

Recall leader, Lindsey Amezcua posted a copy of the letter on Facebook, Tuesday morning in which she wrote:

“Good afternoon Superintendent Anello,

We, the undersigned, are writing in to request the following items be added to the October 27th, 2021 Board of Education meeting, as allowed by Ed Code 35145.5.

Our first requested addition is the censuring of President Householder. Her escalating attacks on parents, teachers, and staff is unbecoming of a School Board trustee. We have been called disgusting and hostile, made fun of with passive-aggressive reposts of skits, and had our concerns dismissed as cyber-bullying.

Our second requested addition is the establishment of a social media policy for our school board trustees. We believe there should be clear parameters for what is allowable to post and what is not. This will prevent further incidents of disrespect and subsequent requests for censuring. #WeAreAUSD

One of the examples Amezcua pointed to was Householder’s post on Monday, Oct. 10, on her official school board Facebook page of a video from a Saturday Night Live skit poking fun at parents who speak at school board meetings. She included the comment, “The accuracy” followed by a laughing face emoji.

An email was sent to Householder asking for comment on the accusations and if she will allow the censure vote to be placed on the agenda, Tuesday afternoon.

In another post on her official Facebook page on Friday, Oct. 1, Householder included a link to an article entitled, “WATCH: Education officials testify about supporting schools during COVID, School board group asks US for help policing threats” and wrote, “The Antioch School Board has not been immune to these vicious commenters during Board meetings. I applaud U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the The National School Boards Association for recognizing and taking action against this. I would be lying if I didn’t say the countless hours of threats isn’t concerning.

“Threats toward school board members typically are handled by local law enforcement. But the association asked for the federal government to get involved to investigate cases where threats or violence could be handled as violations of federal laws protecting civil rights. It also asked for the Justice Department, FBI, Homeland Security and Secret Service to help monitor threat levels and assess risks to students, educators, board members and school buildings.”

In an exchange with AUSD teacher Michael Sagehorn beneath that post, he wrote, “Nope- I read it. Does not apply to you. Please resign. Apply for the California State Senate/Assembly Fellowships. That might be a better place for you.”

She then posted a link to a page on the website for Equal Rights Advocates, a women’s rights organization, about cyberbullying and harassment, with tips for students, parents and educators, but not board members.

Further, in the same thread, Sagehorn wrote, “Ms. Householder- no one has threatened you. You’ve been called to task for poor decision making, public behavior, and attempts to restrict others who disagree with your leadership style a fair hearing. This news article doesn’t apply to you, miss.” She did not respond. However, Householder did respond to another comment writing, “it’s almost as though they are proving the article right…”

She was asked by this reporter beneath her Facebook post, “Have you called the police or filed any complaints about any threats you have received as a school board member? Can you please share what specific threats you received, please? Also, in what format did you receive them – over the phone, via text, via email, snailmail, note on your car or left at your house, or directly and in person?” Householder did not respond.

Gina Gherlone Lingenfelter posted another comment writing, “Does anyone else remember the quote “They were shook, y’all?” Anyone remember what this is in reference to? Pretty certain I remember Ellie Householder referring to a fellow board member after an out-of-control protest at that board members house. Seems like she was happy about the fact that her colleague felt threatened. Any thoughts? Pot, meet kettle.”

Householder tweets 8/4/2020

Amezcua responded by sharing a screenshot of Householder’s tweets, for which she was censured, last year, about the protest at the district offices during a school board meeting in which Trustee Rocha was almost shoved to the ground. Householder commented, “she is SHOOK YA’LL”. The school board voted to censure Householder for her tweets. (See related articles here and here)

As board president, Householder controls which items are placed on the agenda, and has twice unilaterally removed a vote to remove her as board president. (See related articles, here and here).

She was asked, again via email on Tuesday, Oct. 12, “what specific threats have been made against you and/or other school board members by members of the public? Did they occur during public meetings, by email, by phone call, text or in person? How did you handle them? Did you contact the police? How were they resolved if at all?” As of publication time on Wednesday, Oct. 13 Householder did not respond.

The agenda for the regular board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 27 will be released on Friday, Oct. 22.

Please check back later for any responses from Householder and any other updates to this report.

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Embattled Antioch School Board president served with recall notice

Saturday, October 9th, 2021

Proponents include parents, teachers, staff and a principal

“the students of Antioch Unified School District were no longer the focus of the Board of Education and drastic action was needed” – David and Lindsey Amezcua

Second Antioch official to currently face potential recall including the city’s mayor

By Allen Payton

On Friday afternoon, Oct. 8, 2021, Antioch School Board President Ellie Householder was served with a notice of recall by David Amezcua, a registered voter and resident of the school district. She was served in the parking lot of her home at 4:41 p.m. according to Amezcua’s wife, Lindsey who was with him.

Householder is the second Antioch official to currently face potential recall including the Mayor Lamar Thorpe. But unlike the mayor, who tossed his recall notice on the ground, twice, when served with his papers, the embattled trustee accepted them and simply said, “Beautiful,” Amezcua shared. (See related article)

The notice includes a list of 20 registered voters who reside within the district and are parents, teachers, staff and a principal.

“The decision to initiate a recall was not made lightly. We discussed the seriousness of taking this action for several months before we decided to act,” the Amezcaus said on behalf of the signers. “It became apparent to us that the students of Antioch Unified School District were no longer the focus of the Board of Education and drastic action was needed to correct the direction we are headed.”

“When the Vote of No Confidence (by AUSD faculty and staff) wasn’t enough to get the trustees to vote to remove Householder as president, we decided to start this process. We are a group of parents, teachers, staff, and administrators that know AUSD needs a leader that wants to work with our educators to achieve collective goals, a leader that is supportive, a leader that wants to effect change in a constructive manner,” they added. “As has been the rally cry for several years, #WeAreAUSD and we demand better.” (See related article)

The notice offers the reasons for the recall including abuse of power and violations of state Education Code and federal law, which are cited in the notice.

“NOTICE OF INTENTION TO CIRCULATE RECALL PETITION

TO THE HONORABLE Elizabeth Householder: Pursuant to Section 11020, California Elections Code, t he undersigned registered qualified voters of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), in the State of California, hereby give notice that we are the proponents of a recall petition and that we intend to seek your recall and removal from the office of AUSD Trustee, Antioch, California, and to demand election of a successor in that office.

The grounds f or the recall are as follows:

You are disrespectful of Board Members, Staff and Public who disagree with you during AUSD Board meetings. You have committed Brown Act violations by blocking/deleting comments on Social Media (eliminating equal access). You assert the president must not only collaborate on, but approve, the board agenda. (Ed. Code/Board Policy does not require board president’s approval); You abuse your authority by calling and/or adding agenda items at special meetings that were neither urgent nor necessary. You violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), by publicly posting an unauthorized video of students without permission. You have committed numerous Robert’s Rules of Order Violations during meetings presided over by you: Allowed a substitute motion on a non-debatable “motion to table”; Ongoing efforts to limit or eliminate public comment by removing agenda items without consensus of the board; Stopping public comments midstream when you felt it wasn’t appropriate or directly related to the agenda item; Requesting staff to use personal judgement on which public comments should be entered into public record and which should not; and Abused presidential authority by not recognizing staff / board members’ requests to speak/provide input during a public meeting.”

Recall Proponents

The 20 signers of the recall petition include Lindsey Amezcua, John Muir Elementary School Principal Michael Flosi, former Antioch Council Member and current Planning Commissioner Martha Parsons, former Antioch Planning Commission Chair Janet Rossini Zacharatos, Contra Costa County 2021 Humanitarian of the Year Velma Wilson, and Allison Pantell, April Scott-Garrett, Baltazar and Celestina Perez, Daniel and Denise Rundall, Elizabeth Rieger, Gregory Andelin, Jessica Fernandez, Jessie Allen Lee Wison, Joshua David Isenbarger, Kathleen Cabrera (who served Thorpe his recall notice), Kelsey Martinez, Lakisha Monique Jarvis, Laura Young, Leslie and Robert Scudero, Mary-Ann Bellante, Nancy Mauri, Norma Barela, Shanae Nicole Souza, Susan Jimenez, Tamara Daste, Victoria Lee Virgen.

Recall Process

Householder’s term ends in December 2022, and she currently lives in Area 1 which is represented by Trustee Antonio Hernandez. So, unless the board decides to redraw the current trustee area lines to move her into Area 2, during this year’s redistricting process, Householder will not be able to run for reelection. Householder is also Antioch’s elected city clerk serving in a term that continues through December 2024.

She has seven days to offer a written response to the notice which will be included with the reasons and printed on the petitions which will be used to gather signatures. The district includes all of Antioch and portions of both Oakley and Pittsburg. Householder was elected in 2018 and serves in an at large seat representing the entire school district. (See  map)

According to the Procedure for Recalling State and Local Officials on the California Secretary of State’s website, and the Guide for Recalls on the Contra Costa County Elections website, organizers must gather the signatures of at least 15% of registered voters in the Antioch Unified School District, if the registration is between 50,000 and 100,000, to qualify the recall for the ballot. There are approximately 70,000 registered voters in the district which requires organizers gather approximately 10,500 signatures within 160 days or about 66 per day on average. (Actual figures cannot be determined until the County Elections office reopens on Monday.)

The notice also includes the following details for the recall process:

The original notice and proof of service will be filed with the Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder.

Elections Code section 11023. (a) Within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, the officer sought to be recalled may file with the elections official, or in the case of a state officer, the Secretary of State, an answer, in not more than 200 words, to the statement of the proponents.

(b) If an answer is filed, the officer shall, within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, also serve a copy of it, by personal delivery or by certified mail, on one of the proponents named in the notice of intention.

(c) The answer shall be signed and shall be accompanied by the printed name and business or residence address of the officer sought to be recalled.

Efforts to reach Householder for comment were unsuccessful prior to publication. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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California school choice initiative for Nov. 2022 ballot filed with Attorney General

Monday, October 4th, 2021

Would allow creation of “Education Savings Account” for each K-12 student; organizers will need to gather signatures of one million voters

By Michael Alexander

Labor Day is the traditional end of the summer and the beginning of fall.  Before government created the perpetual school year, Labor Day also marked the beginning of the school year. This year, Labor Day marked the beginning of what will be a decisive and tumultuous year.  Californians will have the opportunity to establish true educational freedom in our wonderful Golden State.

School Choice Initiative Filed with Attorney General

In August, key leaders of the California School Choice Foundation joined other Californians to formally present a school choice initiative to the California Attorney General’s office for what is known as “Title and Summary.”  We expect to receive that summary no later than October 12, 2021.  Once that happens, we can then begin to gather the 1.0 million valid signatures necessary to place it on the November 2022 ballot.  Just to make sure, we plan to gather 1.5 million signatures.

Empowers Parents and Revolutionizes Education in California

The key four points of the initiative are these:

Educational Freedom Act

  1. An Education Savings Account (“ESA”) will be established for each K-12 child in California on request.
  2. Each year, that account will be credited with the student’s share of what are known as Prop 98 funds. That share will begin at $14,000 per year per student.
  3. The parent will be able to direct the ESA trust funds to a participating, accredited private or parochial school. The money will follow the student not the politicians.
  4. Any unspent funds will accumulate and can be spent on college, vocational training or other qualified educational expense.

This plan is both simple and revolutionary.  Once passed, California will become the first state to enact universal school choice.  More important, it will be the first state to recognize that It’s Your Kids, Your Money and Your Choice!

Get Ready and Get Involved NOW!

I need not tell you that school choice is the hottest issue in the country.  It was the linchpin of at least two candidates in the recall election:  Larry Elder and Kevin Kiley.  Each endorsed our school choice initiative. You can understand why this is initiative is already driving bureaucrats and social engineers insane.  No matter what happened in the recall election, school choice is not going anywhere.  Thousands of supporters are now mobilizing to get it on the ballot and pass it.  Scores of candidates for statewide and local offices will make school choice the focal point of their campaigns.

This is why you need to get involved right now.  We don’t have a moment to lose.

Super Sunday – Happy Halloween!  Trick or Treat? 

As I mentioned above, we are not standing still for a moment.  We know we will be able to start gathering signatures a month from now.  We have been organizing and advocating for the last three years.

We want to hit the ground running.  That’s why we are pre-planning a major event for October 30-31.  Whether you call it Super Sunday or Halloween, you need to let us know what church or other venue you will be covering on that weekend.  Our goal is to calendar at least 1,000 events statewide.  Nothing will send a more powerful message than this.  Friends and foes alike will know we are serious about our freedom and the future of our children.

This campaign will run for the next 13 months, ending in victory on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

The following was provided by Stephen Smith.

Q1.  What about California’s public education system led to this grassroots effort for the initiative?

The reasons are legion.

  1. California schools can hardly be called an “education” system. Despite spending $20,000 per student per year – – that’s an average of $500,000 per classroom of 25 – – California schools rank near the bottom of the nation at 48th place. This has happened even though per pupil spending has almost doubled in the last decade.
  2. Increasingly, California schools preferred to indoctrinate rather than educate. In the face of vigorous parental opposition, social engineers (*1) disguised as “educators” continue their efforts to implement critical race theory. They also have frustrated efforts of parents to opt out of equally controversial “sex-ed” programs. (*2)
  3. Parents are outraged by the closure of the schools and mask mandates. Eighteen months after the start of the Covid panic, schools are still not fully reopened.
  4. Parents are frustrated by being ignored by school boards, teachers’ unions and politicians. They feel strongly – – and correctly – – that they are the parents and should be making basic decisions about the health, education and formation of their children. This is a basic human right that is frustrated daily by a leviathan system that cares little for them for their children. (*3)

(*1) https://freebeacon.com/coronavirus/la-teachers-union-president-there-is-no-such-thing-as-learning-loss/  “There is no such thing as learning loss,” the union president told Los Angeles Magazine. “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.” Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)

(*2) https://capitolresource.org/ca-sex-education/

(*3) CPC report and polling data https://californiapolicycenter.org/new-polling-shows-covid-19-shifted-california-voters-opinions-on-schools-2/

Q2. How will the state provide the $14K per student?

  1. The principal source will be Proposition 98 tax revenues which, in the coming school year, will average approximately $14,000 per student. In fact, as noted above, the State spends approximately $20,000 per student per year.
  2. Ultimately, of course, parents, like every other taxpayer in California, will pay dearly for their own K-12 education as well as that of their children. Politicians and other advocates of centralized, inefficient, and incompetent government schools, never let on that under proposition 98, 40% of California state tax revenues are earmarked for what they are pleased to call “education.” As a practical matter, therefore, everyone in California will pay for K-12 education their entire lives. The only question is whether they get the education they pay for. Therefore, we say: It’s Your Kids, Your Money, and Your Choice.

Q3. Why do students and families need school choice?

  1. It should be recognized that what we call “school choice” is another way of describing parental choice. As discussed above, California schools, dominated by corrupt teachers’ unions and politicians have utterly failed to educate our children. This system particularly affects poor and minority communities who have no ability to escape the system. Therefore, they have no opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty and ignorance that so often characterizes our inner cities.
  2. It is not only that they need school choice. It benefits all of us. In California, indeed in America itself, real progress depends upon economic, social, and political mobility. The foundation of this mobility is a decent education without which our poorest citizens cannot hope to participate fully in our complex economy and our form of government. The current government school monopoly both creates and sustains a permanent underclass. This system is not only immoral, but also dangerous.  Therefore, our school choice initiative must first be understood as a preferential option for the poor.
  3. School choice is wildly popular among parents and citizens at large. There are several polls showing that approximately 70% of black and Latino Democrat parents desire some form of school choice.
  4. Another example is homeschooling. It is estimated that there were only 73,000 homeschooled children in 1973.  In the wake of school closures and the rapid decline in education, that number has swollen to as much as 5 million.  These parents are tired of arguing with the teacher unions and politicians.

Q4. Is this the first ballot initiative of its kind in the U.S.?

  1. This is not the first time that Californians have tried to get some form of school choice. There was an initiative on the ballot in the early 90’s and again in 2000.  Both failed.  That said, there are several states that have various forms of school choice that often include the ability of parents to choose a public school to attend but only within the system.  Other state programs do allow limited funds to attend a private school or provide funds for certain educational expenses procured outside the system.  Arizona and Florida are examples of each.  Some states have put Education Savings Accounts into place to implement parental choice.
  2. The Educational Freedom Act initiative goes further than any other proposal of which we are aware. It grants the right of any parent to request the creation and funding of an Education Savings Account that they can use to enroll their child in any accredited school of their choice and save anything left over for college or vocational training.  It is both simple and revolutionary.

Q5. Why does it need to happen through a voter referendum instead of the state legislature?

  1. This is simple. The politicians, special interests and the teachers’ unions have a monopoly on what millions of Californians say, think and do.  They also control for their own benefit 40% — over $100 billion – of the California budget.  They will not give up this power willingly.  We anticipate that the enemies of educational freedom will spend $100 – 200 million to defeat parents’ rights.

Q6. What is most important for people to know?

  1. The most important thing for people to know is that help is on the way. For the first time:
  2. Parents, not politicians, bureaucrats or zip codes, will determine how and where their children will be education.
  3. Because all schools, both public and private, will have to compete for students, ALL schools will get better.
  4. Because of competition, all schools will have to deal respectfully with parents who will be customers with a choice.
  5. Parents, including homeschoolers, will be able to shape their children’s education in a way best suited to their needs and talents, not the government’s.
  6. Because educational funding will now follow the student and empower parents, California will experience unprecedented innovation in education. California will once again lead the nation in educational innovation and excellence.

For more information visit www.CaliforniaSchoolChoice.org or our Facebook page.

Michael Alexander is President and Chairman of the Board and Stephen Smith is Vice President of Californians for School Choice.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Statewide report shows 76% of Antioch third graders reading below grade level for 2017-18, 2018-19 school years

Monday, September 27th, 2021

Source: California Reading Coalition

AUSD rankd 248 out of the 287 districts included that enroll 72% of students from over 1,000 districts in California; statewide results show over half of all third graders, 3+ million, reading below grade level

“…the primary drivers are district focus on reading, management practices, and curriculum and instruction choices.” – report

No ideas to address situation shared by district’s trustees

By Allen Payton

As the Antioch school board president and trustees continue to participate in a power struggle for control of the board and an internecine Robert’s Rules of Order battle, 76% of the district’s third graders are reading below grade level. That’s according to the California Reading Report Card, which ranks districts based on their effectiveness in teaching reading by 3rd grade. It is produced by the California Reading Coalition and includes data from the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, since no testing took place in 2020.

In addition, the report shows 73% of the district’s third graders are “High Need Students”.

According to their website, the California Reading Coalition, founded this year, “is made up of educators, advocates, researchers, and policy makers committed to improved reading outcomes for all California students.” They “support school districts and advocacy groups in focusing on the California reading crisis and working to improve curriculum, instruction, teacher development, and ultimately outcomes for every student.”

According to the report, “The clear message is that it is not the students themselves, or the level of resources, that drive student reading achievement – the primary drivers are district focus on reading, management practices, and curriculum and instruction choices.  The Top 30 Districts come in all types: urban, rural, and suburban, across 10 different counties, with high-need students levels ranging from 39% to 96%.  Any district can succeed at teaching reading.”

The organization offered additional details about their research and report:

Key Findings (read the presentation for more)

Top districts had double the percent of students* in our analysis at grade level vs. low-performing districts (50% vs. 25%), serving similar students and with lower funding.  On average high performing districts have a similar share of high-need enrollment (62% vs. 75%), while low performing districts have higher funding levels ($14 thousand per pupil vs. $12 thousand). There are top performing districts with over 90% high-need enrollment, and low performing districts with less than 20%.

A surprising finding is that none of the top performing districts are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area contains nearly half of the lowest performing districts, including large districts like San Francisco Unified, Oakland Unified, and West Contra Costa County Unified.  By contrast, Southern California has 80% of the high performing districts, led by Los Angeles County, where over half of all ranked districts are in the top 20% statewide. Fresno County is also a standout, with 4 of the top 30 districts (including 2 of the top 5), while making up only 1% of all ranked districts.

How the Rankings Work

Districts are ranked by the percent of socio-economically disadvantaged (SED) Hispanic/Latino (Latinx) students who “meet or exceed” grade level for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) 3rd grade ELA test.  We combined the two most recent CAASPP cycles (2017-18 and 2018-19; no testing took place in 2020) to account for variation between years.

​Our rankings are based on one particular student group – SED Latinx 3rd graders (for a more detail, visit our ‘Why Latinx 3rd Graders?’ page). District comparisons must focus on specific sub-groups – an “apples to apples” comparison. Not only do SED Latinx students make up 43% of California K-12 enrollment, they are also less likely to have outside learning supports than families with more resources, higher educational attainment, and more English literacy. Results for these students therefore help us see how effectively schools teach reading, separate from the contribution from parents and outside resources. We believe that better results for these students almost certainly mean better reading instruction for all.

The rankings include districts with 100 or more SED Latinx 3rd graders.  This provides a larger sample for each district, less susceptible to year-to-year variation.  These districts make up 287 of California’s over 1,000 school districts, and enroll 72% of all students.

For data sources, visit our Sources & Notes page.”

——-

Comparison With Neighboring Districts

Neighboring districts scored better than Antioch, but not by much, with Brentwood Union Elementary having the fewest third graders reading below grade level at 64% and the lowest percentage of high need students at 31%.

In Pittsburg Unified 66% performed below grade level and 76% were high need, and in the Oakley Union Elementary School District 73% of third graders tested below grade level and 47% were high need.

Questions for AUSD Trustees, Superintendent & Staff

The following questions were sent to the five Antioch School Board trustees and Superintendent Stephanie Anello, on Friday.

What is being done to rectify this situation? What ideas, programs or suggestions have any of the trustees proposed during their terms on the board? Have any been approved and implemented? If so, what are the results? If so or if not, what do you propose be done?

Since education begins at home, what is being done to work with the parents or guardians of the students reading below grade level to help them?

For the Hispanic/Latino students, is it a matter of Spanish being the primary language at home? How many ESL students are there in the district, please?

Have there been any efforts to work with Rocketship Delta Prep to learn what their best practices are which, according to their reports, show significant advancement among their students and in just one school year, and implement them in district schools?

On whom does the responsibility lay for this, the board, superintendent, principals, teachers and/or parents?

Are there subject matters being taught in the classroom that aren’t required that take time away from focusing on reading skills?”

In response, Board President Ellie Householder wrote, “Answers to most of your data questions (i.e. demographics) can be found via Data Quest: https://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/” and “In terms of the nuanced and programmatic questions, I refer to District staff.”

However, that website only answered the question about how many third-grade English learners are in the district. The answer is 300 out of all 1,224 for a total of 24%. Householder did not share what ideas she has proposed or answer the other questions, so they were resent to her.

Board Vice President Clyde Lewis responded, “Thank you for pointing this out. These numbers should receive the attention and plans should be developed to address them. I believe that by working with those on the ground and listening to educators, we can work with parents to develop sound strategies.”

Anello was out of the office both Friday and Monday,  Sept. 24 and 27 An automatic response referred to Associate Superintendent Christine Ibarra and Deputy Superintendent Jessica Romeo. They were then sent the same information and questions after work hours on Monday.

9/30/21 UPDATE: AUSD Responds – Following are the Herald’s questions repeated and the answers from Associate Superintendent Christine Ibarra:

Q – What is being done to rectify this situation? What ideas, programs, or suggestions have any of the trustees proposed during their terms on the board? Have any been approved and implemented? If so, what are the results? If so or if not, what do you propose be done?

A – AUSD is heavily invested in a computer adaptive instructional program known as iReady.  All students in grades K-8th participate in this research-based program.  This program provides three diagnostic assessments per year and produces individualized placement levels in reading.  The students then engage in a pathway of instruction that is both done within the computerized program itself and supported by intervention prep teachers on campuses with direct instruction that is tailored to the individual levels and needs of each student.  Since this is our third year utilizing this program, we have data that shows significant growth in students’ reading levels and abilities at all grade levels even during distance learning.

Furthermore, AUSD has provided every elementary school with a full time intervention teacher who works with small groups providing intentional and targeted support in areas of need, specifically in fluency skills and reading comprehension. These intervention teachers utilize a wide array of differentiation strategies and support to ensure their time with student groups is maximized for the greatest impact on student growth and achievement.

In addition, AUSD has an MOU with UC Berkeley’s California Reading and Literacy Project for the 2021-2022 school year.  This partnership provides professional learning for all teachers TK-6th grade specifically focused on developing teachers’ content knowledge and expanding their teaching strategies guided by the state-adopted frameworks, content standards, and the science of reading.

Read 180 is a research-based program being reintroduced to AUSD intended for secondary students who are performing two or more years behind grade level in Reading.

AUSD is also heavily invested in the AVID programming and professional learning community which has provided hundreds of teachers across all grade levels with outstanding workshops focused on critical reading strategies across content areas so that all teachers have tools and supports to support reading levels at any grade level.  This summer alone, we had 50 teachers attend virtually.

The iReady program, Read 180, the AVID program, and the UC Berkeley partnership are Board approved contracts and the intervention teaching positions were board approved via the LCAP and Expanded Learning Opportunities grant.

Q – Since education begins at home, what is being done to work with the parents or guardians of the students reading below grade level to help them?

A – We provided ongoing trainings and support during school closures remotely in both English and Spanish. The parent trainings were not only for technology support efforts but were designed to also increase parents’ capacity to support their students at home and in their academics.  iReady specifically provided parent institutes that were widely attended virtually.  Since returning to in-person learning, we have worked closely with our District English Language Advisory Committees (DELAC) as well as our Parent Advisory Committees (PACs) and Site Councils from all schools across the district to assess what parents need and are interested in engaging in to support their students’ academic achievement.  Most, if not all of our elementary and middle schools, host parent training nights focused on both literacy and mathematics and are working to determine how to continue that effort with COVID-19 protocols in place this year.

Q – For the Hispanic/Latino students, is it a matter of Spanish being the primary language at home? How many ESL students are there in the district, please?

A – AUSD currently serves 2,687 English Learners (EL) and has over 450 students being tested to determine their English Learner status as of today.  Although Spanish is the largest group of English Learners’ population in AUSD, we have over 30 different languages spoken within our EL population.

Q – Have there been any efforts to work with Rocketship Delta Prep to learn what their best practices are which, according to their reports, show significant advancement among their students and in just one school year, and implement them in district schools?

A – The AUSD Educational Services department meets annually with Rocketship and reviews their programming efforts as required. Best practices are shared and exchanged during those meetings.  Since we have not had summative state data results in the last two years, the conversation has not been directly about the improvement of test scores.  In the 2019 CAASPP, AUSD students performed higher in English Language Arts.

Q – On whom does the responsibility lay for this, the board, superintendent, principals, teachers and/or parents?

Are there subject matters being taught in the classroom that aren’t required that take time away from focusing on reading skills?

A – Educating students and ensuring students have all the supports and opportunities they deserve and require is a collective responsibility.  When we can work together to that end, we will see students reach their full potential.

 

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Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Wilson steps into school district superintendent removal fight

Friday, September 24th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson (from LinkedIn), Antioch School Board President Ellie Householder, Vice President Clyde Lewis and Superintendent Stephanie Anello (from AUSD).

Takes swipe at Board VP Lewis claiming he’s missed three “critical votes”

By Allen Payton

Source: Wilson’s blog header.

The Herald learned on Friday that in a post on Tuesday, on her blog, which has 11 followers, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson took the unusual step of injecting herself and opinion into a school district issue, supporting Board President Ellie Householder’s efforts to fire Superintendent Stephanie Anello. The move failed with only four trustees in attendance at Tuesday night’s urgently called special closed session meeting, since Board Vice President Clyde Lewis was absent for a work conflict and personal matters. Because of that, Wilson took a swipe at him and claims he missed other “critical votes”, as well. (See related articles here and here)

Wilson also, once again, injected a race into an issue, by reminding Lewis that he’s the only Black member of the school board, and writing “our community cannot afford to lose another generation of students but in particular Black and Latino students.”

Statement from Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson Regarding Antioch Unified School District Special Meeting of September 21, 2021

“I’ve learned the hard way as an elected official that doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity and only serves to reinforce the status quo.

For far too long, the Antioch Unified School District administration has created a subpar environment that has made it difficult for students, in particular students of color, to have the necessary support and environment for success in the classroom.

For this reason, I would like to take this moment to commend Board President Ellie Householder for having the courage to call for a special meeting in her efforts to change the leadership of the Antioch Unified School District’s administration.

As Board President Householder has said, this is a fight for the future of Antioch, as our community cannot afford to lose another generation of students but in particular Black and Latino students because they did not receive an adequate education.

I would also like to take this moment to publicly call on Dr. Clyde Lewis to be present at the meeting, and to vote in support of our students and families by supporting change.

As the only Black leader on the Antioch Unified School Board, Trustee Lewis needs to realize that we in the community have noticed his pattern of missing critical votes. We are watching, and are fully expecting him to rise to the moment, and vote for the children of Antioch.

To not be present for this vote would mark the third time that Trustee Lewis has missed a key vote. In doing so, he will be making it clear that he is not prepared for the pressures and intensity of serving in elected office.”

Questions for Wilson and Lewis

The following questions were sent to Wilson and Lewis early Friday afternoon.

Since it wasn’t posted on either her official Facebook page nor sent to the Herald, and her blog only has 11 followers, Wilson was asked, “did you not want that many people to read it? Was it part of an effort to run for school board or higher office, next year? Or was it to take a swipe at a potential political opponent, Board VP Clyde Lewis, who lives in the same council district you currently represent, in an attempt to eliminate your competition should you decide to run for reelection?”

In addition, she was asked, “do you think it’s appropriate for a council member to interject their opinion into school district business? Would you want school board members, other than (City Clerk) Ellie Householder, doing the same for city matters?” and “don’t you have enough city issues to deal with?”

Lewis was asked if he had any comments about Wilson’s blog post and “to which other critical votes do you think she’s referring?” He responded writing, “Leadership aims to build bridges and collaboration. I’m not really sure the aim of this statement, but I hope she is having a blessed day.”

09/27/21 UPDATE: Lewis offered additional comments on Monday, Sept. 27 writing, “I have no idea which votes she is referring. I have not missed but two meetings during my tenure, only one of which was a regularly scheduled meeting. I cannot speak to her motives and frankly, I’m more disappointed with the lack of attention given to students and solving issues in the community.”

Wilson had not yet responded as of Monday evening, Sept. 27.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Antioch school district staff by 97.5% support vote of No Confidence in Board President Householder

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

“…the employees of the AUSD have No Confidence in Ellie Householder’s ability to lead the Antioch Unified School District.”

Separate online petition started to remove her from school board

By Allen Payton

The Antioch Unified School District staff, including teachers, classified and management employees, announced Wednesday night, that 97.5% approved a Vote of No Confidence in Antioch School Board President Ellie Householder. A total of 669 staff members voted in favor, only 15 district employees voted no and three voted to abstain.

The three groups are the Antioch Education Association (AEA) representing the teachers, California School Employees Association Antioch Chapter 85 (CSEA) and the Antioch Management Association (AMA), representing the principals and district leadership. The A A members voted 441-8-0, the CS A members voted 213-6-2 and the AMA members voted 45-1-1.

The AEA announced on their Facebook page, Wednesday night, Sept. 22, “The employees of the Antioch Unified School District have overwhelmingly voted in support of a Vote of No Confidence in School Board President Ellie Householder.”

Also on Wed. night, on the CSEA’s Facebook page, the AEA’s post was reposted with the comment, “Resounding vote of ‘no confidence’ in Ellie Householder.”

In addition, during public comments of the school board regular meeting, representatives of the three employ groups issued the following statement:

“A vote of no confidence is defined as ‘a formal vote by which people indicate that they do not support a leader, government, etc.

In an electronic secret ballot election held from September 18-22, 2021, 97.5% percent of votes cast were in support of a Vote of No Confidence in Ellie Householder as the President of the AUSD School Board. Only 15 votes were cast in opposition, representing only 0.02% of the total ballots cast. The breakdown of votes is as follows: 98.2% of certificated staff (AEA), 97.8% of management staff (AMA), and 97.3% of classified staff (CSEA) stated their lack of confidence in the Board President.

The following violations of Roberts Rules of Order and the Brown Act have occurred at board meetings presided by President Ellie Householder:

  • Allowing a substitute motion to go through on a non-debatable motion such as “motion to table”
  • Efforts to limit or eliminate public comment by removing agenda items without consensus of the board
  • Efforts to shorten public comment by reducing the time limit allowed after comments had been submitted
  • Stopping public comments midstream when she felt it wasn’t appropriate or directly related to the agenda item
  • Requesting staff to use personal judgement on which public comments should be entered into public record and which should not
  • Abusing her presidential authority by not recognizing staff and board members’ requests to speak or provide input during a public meeting
  • Asserting that the president must not only collaborate on, but approve, the board agenda. Ed. Code and Board Policy do not require the board president’s approval, just collaboration on the development
  • Abusing her authority by calling and/or adding agenda items at special meetings, that were neither urgent, nor necessary
  • Violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), by publicly posting unauthorized video of students without permission

For all of these reasons, the employees of the AUSD have No Confidence in Ellie Householder’s ability to lead the Antioch Unified School District.

Valorie Luke, President, Antioch Education Association

Scott Bergerhouse, President, Antioch Management Association

Josh Isenbarger, President, California School Employees Association, Chapter 85”

————–

Online Petition Launched to Remove Householder from School Board

In addition, Change.org petition was started by Emily Smith with the title, “Remove Ellie Householder from the District Board”. As of Thursday afternoon, Sept. 23 it had garnered 144 signatures.

It includes the message, “As we have watched multiple ‘emergency’ meetings set up by Ellie Householder, it has become evident that she is not fit for her position. She has unilaterally removed the agenda item involving her removal, TWICE! She has violated The Brown Act and does not follow Roberts Rules unless it is convenient for her argument.  Ellie has turned out district into a laughing stock [sic] and has silenced the other trustees on the board. These are just a few examples of why Ellie Householder is not fit to be the board president. She is refusing to allow the Board to act as a board, silencing them and refusing to recognize them. These are all elected officials. She has been abusing her power, and refuses to listen to other trustees. Let your opinion be heard and let the district know the community wants Ellie Householder out!”

Efforts to reach Householder for comment on both the vote and petition were unsuccessful prior to publication time. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

 

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