Politicizing Ethnic Studies & STILL Not Allowing LIVE Public Comment (Twin Rivers 4/20 Meeting)
"What about the Irish and Italians, they had struggles too" "We all bleed the same"
Here is the link to the strange meeting that took place on April 20th 2021. We use time stamps in our recap in case you'd like to reference. The entire meeting can be found here.
Let's start with the hot topic that kinda went left...
1. Ethnic studies model curriculum update (1:47:28) district to evaluate and consider adoption of Ethnic Studies
An advisory committee will work on curriculum development.
Trustee Sandoval: How will the advisory committee be developed? Must ensure community is greatly involved; what about other ethnic groups not listed in the PowerPoint [i.e. Hmong, Russian] can we take some of that money from cops to build a robust ethnic studies program. extremely necessary.
Trustee Jefferson: Also concerned about the advisory committee? who will be on? what is the process? "with all the comments tonight about the community feeling left out..."
Sup Martinez: Parent community, staff, we get input from various stakeholders. well bring that process back to the board so they can see what our process is. Our goal is a course that really meets the needs of our community.
Trustee Elkarra: Ethnic studies experts are here as well in this field. Some folxs tried to politicize ethnic studies and not listen to the experts. This is a field that has decades of research. Let's listen to those experts who can help draft the curriculum.
Trustee Fowler: (2:01:04) Will this be "another class or integrated"? So which class will we eliminate to provide it? A. looking through to see what will be eliminated. "Some of the things I have questions about under the general principles when we are looking at ethnic studies I would hope that we would not just look at the areas of oppression but what people in the particular ethic areas have achieved. Should be a balance not just a system of oppression.
You can put that on any of the people who have come to America for example the Irish people had struggles, the Italians had struggles, I can go on and on..okay there were struggles, there were problems but we come together and did these things and these individuals achieved beyond what they thought they could do than maybe when they first came..
There's some other areas we need to look at, we are talking about encouraging the cultural understanding of how different groups have struggled not only in the current time, but how far back in history are we going to go?.. there's been struggle since the beginning of time..
Another issue we are talking about promoting the values of civic engagement. What do we mean by civic engagement? One of the things that I am really disappointed in is that so many individuals when you talk about any kind of civic engagement they think it's just maybe going out there and helping the needy or whatever it is but civic engagement goes back to what are you doing for your country? are you voting? do you know how government runs...those need to be included.
Trustee Elkarra: Trustee Fowler I am concerned about which direction you are taking this conversation because our community is going to be very upset with the board if we are going to go this direction. The foundation of ethnic studies has always been not just struggles but accomplishments because for too long people of color have not seen their heroes in the text books and stories shared. You are making a lot of assumptions about ethnic studies which is very dangerous because civic engagement is exactly what happened tonight when we had all those community members make those comments in support of ethnic studies...mobilizing their community. It will address challenges and accomplishments.
Trustee Fowler: In all due respect I wasn't taking this in a different direction. These are the things I want to know...I still remember back in the 70s and 60s whenever Black studies were being put together in the universities and that is not the way it was done. For that reason a lot of people didn't like it [Question: who were the people who didn't like it?] I want the best. I have worked so long in my life to prevent racism and to make certain that I do everything I can to bring ethnicities to the forefront and those kinds of individuals who need that help [whaaaa?] these are questions the advisory committee will want answered.
Trustee Sandoval: [trying to put this in context for Fowler] let's talk about the attacks of the Asian American community recently.
Trustee Fowler: thank you Ms. Sandoval and Mr. Elkarra. I did not interrupt any of you when you were making your comments and I don't appreciate that you are doing that to me. Ms. Sandoval, I fully concur with what you are talking about... We need to have some kind civil discourse on this kind of thing..so as far as having any racism and ethnic studies knowledge, i think I am as up on it as any of you can find.
Trustee Rivas: [interrupts and Bastian tries to speak]
Trustee Bastian: [Gives us a history lesson on the opression of Native Americans.] "Remember, we all bleed the same" -- yah but bruh, we all aint getting cut!
Trustee Elkarra: [tries to get a word in and Rivas moves it without him speaking, Elkarra pushes on ]"For the record I did not interrupt trustee Fowler. I waited till she finished to clarify"
Sup Martinez- We'll come back with how we attempt to get input from all stakeholders outside of an educational setting
ooooo hunny chile.....Twin Rivers Errbody
2. Items not on the agenda public comments
TRUSD police manual "when last updated and reviewed. can't the $3.5 million budget go to counselors? District needs to allow live public comments v. emails)
Response (or lack there of) to anti-Asian racism (45:50 - 46:40)
"It has been 54 days since Grant Union High school Spanish teacher demonstrated anti Asian stereotypes on zoom brining hate into their home...the public has not heard anything more on Mrs. Burkett since the district made a couple plastic apologetic statements..."
Annnnd the public still waits for some action on this matter.
Many comments to adopt ethnic studies (from 1:17:15 to 1:45). Chair Rivas stopped comments after 30 minutes as "consistent with board policy"
Trustee Elkarra pushes for live public comments once again: "zoom has some pretty cool features. I hope we can add those as we also allow for public comment"
Trustee Jefferson: concurs with Elkarra. "We should hear from the community. I want to hear their voices. [not have the clerk read it] without those stakeholder we have nothing. That's the reason we even had a district. [damn right!]
Trustee Baker also wants to hear options for public to call in.
Sup Martinez: We are working on it. [but no damn timeline]
Trustee Rivas: tries to B.S. the public by saying they are trying and asks us to be patient. Well, SJPC still has not received a response to the letter we sent asking for a timeline on letting the public speak!
3. Trustee Baker calling out something fishy about the bid process (agenda item I15) (1:05:15 - 1:10:35)
It's a bit hard to follow but Trustee Baker didn't seem to like what was going on with the bid for the Harmon Johnson Marquee project. Apparently HB Restoration was the lowest bidder for the Harmon Johnson PAINTING project (not the MARQUEE) project. HB cited a mathematical error in their bid for the Painting project and removed their application so it was awarded to Anchor Singh painting company.
But on this agenda item it says "The lower bidder HB Restoration has withdrawn their bid citing a mathematical calculation error. The Superintendent recommends that the Board of Trustee move to award the contract for the Harmon Johnson Marquee project to the apparent low bidder Owens Construction"
But that makes no sense...This agenda item is for the Marquee project, so why are we talking about the bid for the Painting project? And how does the mathematical error for one project affect the bid for a different project? What we find weird here is why HP Restoration is listed at all in this agenda item if they didn't bid for the marquee project? When we look at the bid documents it does show another company (not mentioned at all in this agenda item) that bidder 20k more than Owens construction.
Confused? So are we. Even more so that Trustees Elkarra and Jefferson were no votes along with Baker.
What are we missing here? Readers, if you are familiar with bids and construction for school districts, please let us know what we are missing here (if anything). #SpideySensesOnOverdrive?
4. Item J. Negotiations with California School Employee Association (CSEA) at a standstill & Teachers Union (TRUE) still has unresolved issues (1:11:50 - 1:14:15)
According to the public commenters, CSEA has been in negotiations with the District since January but are at a standstill because:
CSEA wont give up their rights to negotiate positions
CSEA wont agree to contract out all positions
District wants to adjust the pay scale but not fix it
District has not come back with anything new since March
Teachers Unresolved issues:
extreme sub shortage
some students refusing to wear a mask in class despite MOU; district not enforcing mask wearing
teachers are required to be in the class but the Trustees are not