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OP-ED: Assemblymember Mia Bonta Says No to Closing Schools, No to Cutting School Resources

We come together today to be reminded of a common condition that we all have, that our children deserve a public education. Our children deserve an opportunity to be educated with our teachers, our educators, and to know that we stand beside them every single day.

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“I want to stand again in solidarity for our children, our teachers, our educators, our superintendents and our school board because they need us now more than ever,” said Assemblymember Mia Bonta.
“I want to stand again in solidarity for our children, our teachers, our educators, our superintendents and our school board because they need us now more than ever,” said Assemblymember Mia Bonta.

Bonta decries impact of state receivership on Oakland school district

By Mia Bonta

Editor’s note: Education advocates, parents, and elected officials held a press conference last Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Oakland school district headquarters, 1000 Broadway, to oppose what they view as a hostile takeover of Oakland’s public schools by the Alameda County Office of Education and the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT), representing the state. The following is Assemblymember Mia Bonta’s statement at the press conference.

I am proud to represent the children, the educators, the parents, the people of Oakland in this moment. I am here today to stand in solidarity with Oakland’s children, our school district, our Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, our school board — because right now they need us more than ever.

We come together today to be reminded of a common condition that we all have, that our children deserve a public education. Our children deserve an opportunity to be educated with our teachers, our educators, and to know that we stand beside them every single day.

We also come together today more specifically to address the letter of ‘Lack of Going Concern’ received from the Alameda County Office of Education and the required response from this district.

In this response, I want to be crystal clear: I stand with Oakland, I stand with our children, I stand with our teachers, our educators, and I stand with our families.

I stand with our superintendent who has worked every single day through COVID, through a pandemic. I stand with our board who has worked every single day together to be able to provide community help for health, to be able to provide education every single day for our kids.

At a time when their education has been absolutely disseminated and disrupted, teachers, educators, our superintendent, the district and this board have come together to be able to address these problems.

So, what in the world are we doing thinking, right now, in this moment, that we should do anything but support that system that has come together for our children?

I also want to be sure that you all know that I am standing here in my role as a legislator, now, in this moment, and in the spirit of restorative justice, to recognize that the state has had a role in dismantling our system. We have a responsibility right now. It’s been decades of the creation of schools that we haven’t supported at the level that we should have.

It’s been decades of introducing schools that haven’t been fully accountable to all the children of Oakland, and it’s been decades of having to withstand the impact of a state receivership that has been devastating for this school district.

I wasn’t there, (OEA President) Keith (Brown) wasn’t there, but we are now here, stuck with this problem that we need to help solve. And I want to make sure that we all know that no child has ever benefited from adults not telling the whole truth.

No child has ever benefited from adults not presenting the full picture of what needs to happen for our community. Making sure that you’re focused on garnishing the wages of a superintendent’s, while they have been a saving grace, that’s not a solution I can stand for.

Garnishing the wages or threatening the wages of a school board, that is actually not provided enough funds themselves to do their jobs effectively, that’s going to get to a solution that we want.

Focusing on closing schools, disrupting the spaces that keep our children safe and whole, while the whole world around them is telling them it is not a safe time — that’s not going to get us to where we need for our children.

I know that what we do need to do is make an investment. Let’s put it this way. What if we thought about Oakland investing in community schools, investing in mental health practices, investing in paraprofessionals, investing in educators, investing in more head count, to be able to actually serve the needs of our children in this moment right now a this most disruptive moment in our children’s educational history in our country. What [if] that’s the answer?

What [if] we just flipped it? So right now, I know that my role is to make sure that we invest more in this state. And I am committed right now to working at the state level to get relief from this loan that was put on the school district by the state. I am going to work to make sure that we get more resources for OUSD, to make sure that you all, that we all, can do the job we need to do for our children right now.

I want to stand again in solidarity for our children, our teachers, our educators, our superintendents and our school board because they need us now more than ever. Not a slap on the hand, they need us to show up, invest and make sure we are delivering for our children.

Activism

Friendship Christian Center Provides Tests, Vaccines to Thousands

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.
A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.

Friendship Christian Center Church (FCCC), pastored by Dr. Gerald Agee, is located at 1904 Adeline St. and is one of the dozens of Black churches across the state of California, who, in conjunction with the California Health Agencies and California Black Media, has stood on the front line, with the Black Press for over a year providing COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to minority communities.

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: After Jan. 6, An MLK Day Deadline for Voting Rights and Democracy

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

We all know the images of Jan. 6, 2021. Lawless rioters ransacking the Capitol. Police being tortured and beaten. Members of Congress hiding in fear in the House gallery. The gallows and a noose meant for former Vice President Mike Pence.

We all saw the video images one year after and astonishingly they did nothing to pull our nation together.

Nothing.

They simply confirmed the only thing everyone can agree on.

Our democracy’s in trouble. Real trouble.

We already sensed that after the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s such things as race, policing, and income inequality are still major issues in 2022.

But we’ve got trouble in a different key.

C Major. No sharps or flats. This trouble goes right to the core of our democracy. They’re coming after your vote.

That is, after all, what the Jan. 6 rioters were attempting when they tried to stop the certification of the election.

But now the GOP politicians who may have been behind the Jan. 6 rioters all along, are going legit.

The majority of Republicans, notably California’s Kevin McCarthy, continue to sing the fictional tune “The 2016 Election Was Stolen.”

As if in a song battle, the Democrats counter with the loud truth, “The Election Was Fair. Trump Lost.”

But enough people keep singing the lie as if it’s their battle hymn.

And now they are looking for the ultimate control of any election. Legally. In plain view.

Republicans are taking over or running for top election official posts in key states. State legislatures are proposing laws to limit absentee ballots, mail-in voting and other conveniences. They are putting up obstacles to make voting harder with the hopes of suppressing your vote.

This is why Biden spoke in Georgia this week, saying “I will not yield, I will not flinch in protecting voting rights.”

Let’s hope he’s serious, starting with new voting rights legislation to make election days federal holidays and require federal approval of any state and local election changes.

It may take changing the filibuster law to make sure Republicans can’t block any Democratic reforms, but it must be done. And done now.

That’s why even the family of Martin Luther King Jr. is calling for “no celebration” of MLK Day without the passage of voting rights legislation.

This is how Democrats are talking to Biden.

The Republicans’ post-Jan.6 strategy is simply Orwellian. Where truth and lies are indistinguishable. And Republicans loyal to Trump are dead set on forcing their lies on everyone.

Witness Sen. Ted Cruz last week caught in a moment of truth calling the Jan. 6 rioters “domestic terrorists.” But how quickly he recanted when called on the carpet by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the Trump Confessor, for all the Republican congregants to see.

Like a loyal Trumper, Cruz knelt, confessed, and did his penance.

It used to be called hypocrisy. Now it’s just called Modern Day Republicanism.

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

That’s even worse than the Jan. 6 rioters’ wildest dreams.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

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Activism

El Cerrito Hosts 33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

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“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.
“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

By Clifford L. Williams

The City of El Cerrito invites all of its residents and surrounding cities in the Bay Area to join in its 33rd Annual Community Celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

“Keeping the Dream Alive – Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Event chairperson, Patricia Durham said “this peaceful protest began in 1989 on the back streets of El Cerrito because of the City’s refusal to acknowledge King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

“Members of St. Peter Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), the City’s only African-American church, and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, in true Dr. King style, took to the streets. The City eventually came around and acknowledged the peaceful and powerful works of Dr. King.”

Durham added, “El Cerrito’s birthday celebration of MLK is one of the longest-standing parades and rallies in the Bay Area.”

Because of the global pandemic, this is the second year the city will have a car parade because of COVID-19 protocols. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station (in the parking lot of Key Boulevard & Knott Avenue). At 10 a.m., the parade will caravan down San Pablo Avenue to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and at 11 a.m., the rally will begin. To ensure everyone enjoys the parade safely, all CDC guidelines will be enforced. Masks and social distancing are required.

“Keeping the dream alive even during a pandemic is a necessity,” said Durham. “We are fighting for our democracy and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we need each other to embrace our new normals of survival.”

“The City is expecting more than 100 cars, so we encourage everyone to decorate your vehicles so that yours stands out the best,” noted Durham. “Entertainment will be provided by the Japanese American Citizen League, The Black Cowboy Association, Ujima Lodge #35, the Mardi Gras Gumbo Band, Mighty High Drill Team, Smooth Illusions Band, and El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, among other talents.”

The MC of this illustrious event will be Jeffery Wright, president of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker is Diana Becton, the first female African American to be elected District Attorney in the history of Contra Costa County.

For more information, contact Patricia Durham at (510) 234-2518.

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