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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Superintendent Lindo: In Her Own Words

Debbra Lindo Speaks!

The Tattler has obtained a copy of the declaration of former Emery Unified Superintendent Debbra Lindo in the anti-public school teacher Vergara v. California lawsuit now under way in Los Angeles.  Her declaration, reported by the Tattler, is embedded in its entirety below.  The document was signed by Ms Lindo on October 30, 2013 and filed with the court on December 13, 2013.

Some notable points from former Superintendent Lindo's declaration:
  • Ms Lindo states that the evaluation of a teacher's effectiveness should include the standardized test scores achieved by the teacher's students. (Paragraph 4).
  • She says that the teachers in Emery Unified are "well-intentioned and hard-working overall..." before going into a tirade against "grossly ineffective teachers." (Paragraph 6).
  • She argues that teachers are granted tenure too early, when there is only one year of student test scores upon which to evaluate them. (Paragraph 9)
  • She bemoans the due process rights provided to tenured teachers when a District seeks their dismissal, stating that if the process were easier she and the Emery Unified School Board would have dismissed more ineffective teachers. (Paragraph 14)
After the falsified credentials of a former superintendent, we were promised that Debbra Lindo was fully vetted.  This School Board assured us we knew exactly who we were getting when we hired Superintendent Lindo.  One must conclude then, that this School Board shares Lindo's dismal view of our teachers and the protections that seniority and tenure provide them. This School Board hired Superintendent Lindo.  This School Board stood by her when the teachers presented a vote of no-confidence making it beyond clear that they could not work with her.  This School Board did not flinch when the teachers announced that they were suspending the liaison meetings with her because they were of no value.  And this School Board bemoaned her retirement when it was first announced and have only given the most terse and uninformative response since.
We must thus expect new banners at each school site reading: "Teach to the test!" It is apparently the conviction of not only our former Superintendent, but also our School Board.

The document can be viewed larger by clicking the icon in the bottom right corner.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Breaking News: Chief Proponent of Center of 'Community' Life, School Board's Josh Simon Said to be Moving to Oakland

Amid swirling rumors, the Tattler received confirmation from two sources today that Emery School Board member Josh Simon, the chief proponent of the Center of 'Community' Life is giving up on Emery, selling his home and moving his family to Oakland.
A search of Zillow, the real estate website shows 5514 Doyle Street Apt # 5 for sale.
Mr Simon, a parent of two school aged children, has arguably been the largest booster of San Pablo Avenue's Center of 'Community' Life in the City over the years and a powerful advocate for the controversial project on the School Board.  He has provided the Center of 'Community' Life what intellectual heft it has as the project has moved past its critics and now starts the construction phase.

The abandonment of the District by Mr Simon combined with Superintendent Debbra Lindo, recently dismissed by the Board and Center of 'Community' Life project manager Roy Miller also now gone, leaves a massive project, just starting up, with no institutional memory and no first tier proponents left standing.  Concerned citizens have expressed worries should anything go wrong at this point, say financing operating expenses or a number of other looming problems, there will be no one left to turn to for accountability.

Mr Simon was not available for comment and he has not confirmed this with the School District sources say.  The sources for this story wish to remain anonymous.

'No Lawsuit Clause' : City Lets Wareham Off the Hook

Councilwoman Nora Davis: "We don't like to let people off the hook in this city, right Mike?"

Mike Biddle, City Attorney: "Yes we do"

Sometimes it comes off without a hitch at the dog and pony shows known as Emeryville City Council meetings.  But sometimes, well, let's just say it doesn't come off as planned.

Take last Tuesday's Council meeting; a little back and forth, meant to play to the camera, between Councilwoman Nora Davis and City Attorney Mike Biddle didn't quite turn out as the councilwoman expected.  The interplay ended up revealing a darker truth about Emeryville... a corner of the covering having been lifted a little.

Councilwoman Nora Davis
Excuse me while I manage
these critics.....
Councilwoman Davis was trying to mollify critics of the "No Lawsuit Clause" agreement of the 'Transit' Center development on Horton Street.  The clause stipulates that the developer of the site, Wareham Development is let off the hook for toxins not known about now but subsequently discovered as they conduct their clean up work at the site.  By signing off on the agreement, the Council forever signs away the ability to sue Wareham or anyone else to protect the people of Emeryville.  The Council abrogates their fiduciary duties, saddling the taxpayers with added financial responsibilities should something go awry.  The agreement offers Wareham security and comfort while offering the people of Emeryville nothing but a possible debt of unknown quantity.

The Council finally approved the entire contentious development Tuesday night leaving many residents in dismay over the No Lawsuit Clause but also the agreement that lets Wareham leave significant levels of highly toxic waste on the site under a proposed tower, a reneging of a previous agreement to properly clean-up the site by removing all the toxins.

As Emeryville residents tried to take stock of what was given away Tuesday night, the particular repartee between Councilwoman Nora Davis and City Attorney Mike Biddle was a moment of clarity, emblematic of the sycophantic depths attainable by this Council majority.
City Attorney Mike Biddle
The agreement lets Wareham off the hook.
They must be offered comfort at
the expense of Emeryville residents.
Ms Davis started out agreeing the No Lawsuit Clause offered up by the city staff for approval by the council was a non-starter.  Ms Davis laid it all out; playing to the camera, she showed how she's looking out for the resident's interests with a question for Mr Biddle, "I'd like to hear from Mr Biddle on this 'no suit clause'.  If we could have a little more clarification on that because I think it's a cause of concern for the Council and the community.  We don't like to let these people off the hook in this city."  To which, Mr Biddle responded with a lawyerly yes, we DO like to let people off the hook in this city....leaving Councilwoman Davis speechless; her propaganda moment wilting on the vine.

Mr Biddle explained to Ms Davis' definitive statement about letting people off the hook, "It's been a negotiated position between CBS [the owner of the site before Wareham purchased it], Wareham and the City when they move forward with the clean-up pursuant to the plan we approved that we would release them from any future claims."  Mr Biddle went on to say other developers in Emeryville have been similarly let off the hook with regard to toxic site clean-up releasing them from future claims; notably Madison Marquette, the developer of the Bay Street Mall.  He said these developers want protection from the City coming back after them for additional clean-up if additional toxins are discovered or anything else that may go wrong.  "We're releasing them from any ability of the City to pursue them based on what we know today.  This provides [Wareham] some level of comfort that the City will not pursue them."

Wareham's Rich Robbins
The man behind the curtain
As the City staff, who recommended to the Council to over-ride the Planning Commission decision and approve the Transit Center said, this site is a "toxic waste dump" and should be cleaned up.  But repellent to Emeryville residents, the project as approved lets Wareham off the hook for the toxic waste dump that will remain because of the significant quantities of poisons that get left behind, forever entombed beneath the new building.  And once again the three Council member majority show their allegiance to Wareham: for also repellent to Emeryville residents is how Wareham is also let off the hook in the case that we need to sue them later. The No Lawsuit Clause agreed to by Nora Davis, Kurt Brinkman and Ruth Atkin works in the interests of Wareham; disadvantage Emeryville.

The people of Emeryville DID get one thing in the embarrassing fiasco however.  We did get to see Council member Nora Davis publicly blow it: her legendary and prodigious political acumen revealed to be less than prodigious.  We got to see the curtain lifted and Wareham's CEO Rich Robbins at the controls.

Video courtesy Emeryville Properties Association

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Emery School Board "Still Refuses" to Say Why Superintendent No Longer Leading

From the Oakland Tribune:

Our Communities in Brief

POSTED:   01/24/2014 06:10:12 PM PST | UPDATED:   ABOUT 19 HOURS AGO

School district leader set to retire early
The Emery Unified School District still refuses to say why Superintendent Debbra Lindo is no longer leading the two-school district, but the school board confirmed Friday that she is officially retiring as of this month -- six months ahead of the schedule she had announced in October.
The board also announced that it has hired not just one, but two former Emeryville superintendents to guide the city's schools until a permanent replacement is chosen. John Quinn and John Sugiyama will work together to serve as interim superintendent through the end of the 2014 school year.
Lindo's unexpectedly early departure followed an unusual series of closed-session school board meetings that began in December. "We wish her all the best in her future endeavors," said a written board statement Friday that also thanked Lindo for her service.
-- Matt O'Brien, Staff

School Board Releases Superintendent Lindo Letter: Sped Up Early "Retirement" Cited

The Emery Unified School District Board of Trustees sent the following to employees of the entire School District in a late Friday 'news dump'.  This notice, obtained by the Tattler, represents the explanation, such that it is, for what has happened to Superintendent Debbra Lindo who mysteriously went missing late last month.  The Board notice maintains Ms Lindo simply decided to speed up her "retirement" date, nothing more than that.  Ms Lindo announced her early "retirement" last fall and was supposed to serve until June.  This letter explains how the June date was bumped up to January.

Here is the notice:

To All Members of the Emery Unified School District

The Emery USD Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that two former Emery Unified School District Superintendents, John Quinn and John Sugiyama, have agreed to collaboratively serve as the District's Interim Superintendent for the remainder of the 2014 school year.  These two proven, passionate and trusted leaders begin in this role immediately.

Earlier this school year, Dr. Lindo announced her intent to retire on June 30th, 2014 and the Board put in motion the search for our next superintendent.  Earlier this week, Dr. Lindo and the Board reached a mutual agreement that moved her retirement date from June 2014 to January 2014.  We determined that this transition is in the best interest of the organization as we face aggressive and exciting challenges presented by national and state education reforms and local facilities and education projects.  We thank Dr. Lindo for her contributions to our District, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'Transit' Center Vote: City Council Overturns Planning Commission Decision

Council Majority: "Toxic Waste Dump" Left Under 'Transit' Center No Problem

In a 3-2 vote, the City Council voted to overturn the Planning Commission and approve the controversial 'Transit' Center development on Horton Street Tuesday night.  The vote culminated a decade long process for favored Emeryville developer Wareham Development to leverage millions of dollars in subsidies from the taxpayers of Emeryville to forward a project the Planning Commission recently said was "too low in public benefit" to accept.  The project will leave significant levels of highly toxic soil under the proposed building, a change from a previous iteration of the project that proposed removing virtually all the toxic soil.

The vote to approve, (Asher & West dissenting) saw the same Council members, that had previously assured the public that the proposed project would clean up a site contaminated with toxins, suddenly reverse themselves and now sheepishly accept an undetermined amount of toxins left under the new 'Transit' Center tower.  The site, previously used by Westinghouse Corporation, has toxins that were left behind in the soil including PCBs, VOCs and other nasties.  City staff referring Tuesday night to the contamination as a "toxic waste dump" recommended approval of the project regardless of the fact that the site will remain a toxic waste dump with "elevated concentrations of PCBs and other toxins that will remain" according to Earl James, a toxic waste researcher retained by the former Emeryville  Redevelopment Agency.  Mr James testified that Wareham will only remove about seven feet of soil on the site, forever leaving "high [toxin] concentrations below the remediation level."

The 'Transit' Center will provide four bus bays to complete its transit promise and will provide some 850 parking spaces for cars using the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, a street that according to the Emeryville General Plan may not carry more than 3000 vehicle trips per day, a number already in gross excess on the street.  The large number of parking spaces proposed drew ire from former City Councilman Ken Bukowski who called the project more rightly an "automotive center" than a transit center.

Wareham secured unprecedented City funded tax increment financing in addition to the approximately  $4 million in City subsidies it will receive.  The tax increment financing means Emeryville will receive no taxes for the project for 12 years, something Mayor Jac Asher said made her "deeply ambilvolent" about the project.  She added, "With the amount of money and time we've invested, we should have a much better project".

Council member Kurt Brinkman excitedly told the audience this project should be approved because it completes Wareham's "vision" for the site.  "Wareham makes things happen" Mr Brinkman said.  Councilwoman Nora Davis expressed displeasure that "there will be residuals [toxins]" but she found solace in the fact that the existing asphalt cap meant to entomb the toxins will be replaced, "the building will be a hefty cap" she said.

  For its part, Wareham indicated through Mr James that (contrary to a past promise) removing all the toxic soil was now too expensive.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Emery-Go-Round Implosion Ripples Felt Region Wide

From the Bay Area News Group:

Emeryville's favorite perk, a free shuttle, has uncertain future

By Matt O'Brien

POSTED:   01/18/2014 04:00:00 PM PST | UPDATED:   ABOUT 9 HOURS AGO

EMERYVILLE -- It's been a beloved perk for people who live, work or shop in Emeryville: a free shuttle that stops nearly everywhere in the compact city, from the Pixar animation studio to the IKEA store.
Now, one businessman's revolt is threatening to halt the fleet of distinctive purple-and-yellow buses that carry commuters around the city. Businesses have bankrolled the Emery Go-Round for two decades, but a few are looking at its 2016 legal expiration date as a chance to cut loose.
"I'm not so much against the bus system, I just don't want to pay $60,000 because I don't use the thing at all," said Francis Collins, a developer fighting to dismantle the corporate-funded bus authority. "I don't use the dumb thing, much less care about it."
The 71-year-old commercial property owner has infuriated Emeryville residents, civic leaders and a large segment of the business community by calling into question the future of a cherished transit service in the traffic-clogged city.
"I cannot imagine Emeryville without the shuttle," said Trudy Presser, executive director of the partnership that governs the bus system. "I just can't even imagine. The infrastructure cannot support it, if this was converted to cars."
Seventeen shuttle buses ferry about 5,600 riders each day on two main loops and a third rush hour express line, all of which connect the city to the MacArthur BART station in Oakland. That 1-mile drive from BART to the Emeryville border is a critical link for a city whose daytime workforce of nearly 30,000 dwarfs its resident population of about 10,000.
But the shuttle's popularity, and cost, grows annually with each new biotech complex and condominium development crowding the Emeryville skyline. The Emery Go-Round estimates it had 1.6 million boardings last year.
Collins wants city leaders to ask voters for a sales tax hike or find another way to subsidize the bus system or make riders pay. If not, he has threatened to sue, believing the funding mechanism is "illegal and unconstitutional." City leaders oppose the sales tax, which would require the support of two-thirds of voters, but they have launched a task force to investigate other alternatives.
"My position is quite clear: I'm paying a tax I don't think I should be paying and it's not fair to me," Collins said. "Most people think it's a public bus system, like someone's entitled to it. They have no idea where it's coming from. Now they're realizing the people who pay for it might not want to pay for it."
Founded in 1996 when a few big businesses collaborated with the city on a way to get employees to work, the no-fare shuttle system was fortified in 2001 when commercial property owners voted to tax themselves through a business improvement district. Other business districts, from San Leandro to Mountain View and around the country, have since adopted the model.
Property owners pay a fee for every square foot of commercial real estate they occupy. Residential property owners pay nothing, except for those who agreed to contribute as a condition of being able to build in the city. The seven biggest funders -- a group that includes drug company Novartis, Pixar, IKEA, the Bay Street mall and several high-rise office developers -- hold the majority of seats on the governing board of the Emeryville Transportation Management Association.
The biggest payer, Wareham Development, contributed nearly $338,000 to running the shuttle last year.
"We're in the business of building places where people work," said Wareham's Geoffrey Sears, who also presides over the shuttle board. "If the city is convenient to get to, our buildings sitting in it are convenient to get to. That's attractive."
Collins upset the status quo and sought more transparency when he won a seat on the board last year to represent all the other payers, a group that together contributes 60 percent of the $2.8 million assessment. Collins, who lives in rural Sonoma County, says he pays about $46,000.
The shuttle district sunsets in 2016 unless a majority of paying members vote to reauthorize it. Collins said he is determined to make the system more equitable or shut it down.
He has allied with a former mayor, Ken Bukowski, who two years ago formed the Emeryville Property Owners Association. The organization claims to represent small and midsize property owners, such as Collins, whose older brick buildings and converted warehouses -- leftovers from Emeryville's industrial past -- are concentrated in the northwest section of the 1.8-square-mile city. Unlike the stores and offices near the congested waterfront, most of those inland properties have few employees and visitors, so the owners have little use for the Emery Go-Round.
"People don't like it, they don't like the way it's run, they don't like anything about it," Collins said.
But the campaign to scuttle the shuttle is unpopular in the broader Emeryville business community, whose biggest players are all enthusiastic backers of a system that pleases their employees and customers. Many businesses also fear a sales tax could hurt Emeryville's draw as a regional shopping hub.
"Francis is a longtime property owner, he has every right to his opinion, but it's clearly a minority opinion," said Bob Canter, president of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce.
On a recent afternoon, most Go-Round riders said they were unaware of the behind-the-scenes battle over how to sustain the shuttle in the coming years.
Civic leaders, however, got a taste of what a loss of the Emery Go-Round could mean when the bus service abruptly stopped picking up riders in front of the vast but isolated Watergate condominium complex near the Emeryville Marina last year. The shuttle authority blamed the city for a road reconfiguration that made bus turns unsafe.
A mass of outraged residents, some of them carless elders, crowded City Hall and service was restored, but it fueled a debate over whether Watergate's 2,500 residents deserve their own stop since they do not pay for the bus. For many Emeryville residents, losing the shuttle is unthinkable. Some say they wouldn't have moved here without it.
"I know a lot of people, we all love Emery Go-Round," said Watergate resident Grace Zhang, 23, as she waited for the bus Wednesday. "Don't stop it."
Who funds the Emery Go-Round?
The tax: Emeryville's free shuttle is funded through a tax on the city's commercial property owners. Owners are assessed based on how much square footage they occupy. Residential property owners do not pay into the system, with the exception of some newer developments whose owners agreed to contribute as a condition of being able to build in the city.
Who governs: The seven companies that pay the most to run the Emery Go-Round also hold seats on the board that governs the shuttle system. An eighth seat is held by a representative for all the other businesses. A ninth public seat is held by the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce.
Top seven corporate funders in 2013:
Wareham Development (real estate): $337,568
Novartis (pharmaceutical): $234,791
LBA Realty (real estate): $211,243
Bay Street (retail mall): $109,210
Pixar (animation): $92,867
Hines (real estate): $88,275
IKEA (furniture store): $67,880
Top seven corporate members: $1,141,834 (40 percent)
All other payers: $1,698,380 (60 percent)
Total billed assessments: $2,840,214 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

School Superintendent Testifies in Support of Union Busting Lawsuit

Emery Unified School District Superintendent Debbra Lindo, now on unexplained leave, provided testimony last fall in support of a Los Angeles union busting lawsuit tying teacher pay to student test scores and giving unelected and unaccountable administrators dictatorial power in firing of teachers without due process, the Tattler learned.  The suit, Veraga vs California, bankrolled by Silicon Valley tycoon David Welch seeks to break teachers unions, leaving schools to draw from less professional grade instructors willing to work for non-living wages.   Ms Lindo filed a declaration on October 30th Emery teachers said, in support of the lawsuit and David Welch, a deep-pocketed billionaire ideologue without educational experience.
Debbra Lindo
Willing to give succor to

 anti-teacher ideologues in 
Los Angeles but not available 
to talk with Emeryville 
parents and citizens. 

Ms Lindo was not alone in her testimony in support of the lawsuit.  Former Emery Superintendant Tony Smith also provided testimony as did Republicans from up and down the state that teachers must be disempowered "to defend children's fundamental right to have an equal opportunity to access public education", attorneys representing the case said.

 The California Teachers Association said of the lawsuit, "It will make it harder to attract and retain quality teachers in our classrooms and it ignores all the research that shows experience is key factor in effective teaching.  The lawsuit further destabilizes the teaching profession, targeting the very rights that help keep teachers in the profession in the long haul."

The testimony disempowering teachers provided by Ms Lindo and the support of her over the last two years by the School Board has caused some to question if there is a (not so) hidden agenda in place.  The Board, the public agency responsible for selecting Ms Lindo, noted the vetting process in her selection was extremely rigorous after the very public embarrassment in their selection of Stephen Wesley, a 2008  Emery superintendent pick who had padded his resume and wound up in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The trial is to begin on January 27th in Los Angeles.

Ms Lindo could not be reached and no one from the School District, including the School Board would comment for this story.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Local Press Picks Up Emery School Superintendent Dismissal Mystery

The Oakland Tribune picks up on the Emery School Superintendent story.  Readers should know however, that the opening sentence is misleading: the School Board has not told parents that Superintendent Debra Lindo is gone.  There has been no word at all from the School District about this except at a sparsely attended School Board meeting.  Parents have heard that Ms Lindo is on leave from the Tattler.   
From the Oakland Tribune:

Emeryville school superintendent on unexplained leave

By Matt O'Brien
Oakland Tribune

POSTED:   01/14/2014 06:13:30 AM PST | UPDATED:   101 MIN. AGO

EMERYVILLE -- School board members told confused Emeryville parents last week that the superintendent is on leave and the board has brought back a former administrator to guide the tiny, two-school district over the coming months.
The superintendent, Debbra Lindo, announced in late October that she would be retiring, but not until June 30 -- allowing eight months for the Emery Unified School District to search for her replacement.
That schedule suddenly changed after elected school board members held an unusual series of closed-session meetings that began on the Saturday morning before Christmas and continued through Thursday night last week. School officials have refused to explain why Lindo is gone, citing the confidentiality of personnel discussions, but announced that John Quinn, who led the district a decade ago, has been hired as an "administrative adviser" until a new superintendent is selected.
The secrecy surrounding Lindo's departure has angered some parents who demanded more information at a public meeting last week.
"We had a superintendent on Monday. We don't have one tonight," said Marie Henry, a parent at Anna Yates Elementary School who spoke out at a Wednesday board meeting, according to video posted online by the Emeryville Property Owners Association.
"We as parents and community members deserve some sort of an explanation," Henry said.
Lindo could not be reached for comment. A vague statement published on the district's website Thursday said that "in the interest of a smooth transition ... the board is exploring options that impact the timing of Superintendent Lindo's retirement."
She took the helm of the troubled district in 2011, just as it was emerging from a decadelong state takeover. School board members stood behind her in 2012 after the Emeryville teachers' union voted "no confidence" in her leadership in a resolution blaming her for low morale and harmful cutbacks.
A longtime educator, Lindo was the chief executive for four years of an Oakland-based nonprofit group, College Track. She has also been a teacher, principal and a high-level administrator in Palo Alto and Oakland.
Lindo made about $180,000 in gross salary as Emeryville's superintendent last year, and the cost for the district to employ her was nearly $221,000, according to annual salary data the school district released Friday.
Beginning on Dec. 21 and continuing on Dec. 23, 27 and 30 and Jan. 3 and 9, the school board held special closed-session meetings, most of which included an agenda item to "discuss employee discipline/dismissal/release," according to a calendar on the district's website. Also discussed was the appointment of someone who could provide interim services as a "coach/mentor/consultant/adviser" to the board.
Quinn, whose interim role begins immediately, was a state-appointed leader of the Emery school district in 2003 and 2004 while the district was trying to steer itself out of bankruptcy. The district fell under the state's financial control when it was granted a $1.3 million emergency loan in 2001. It returned to local control in 2011 and is now in the middle of a major construction project to build the Emeryville Center of Community Life, an education complex along San Pablo Avenue that will encompass the entire K-12 school district.
For now, with their old school being bulldozed, Emeryville high school students are taking classes in Oakland's former Santa Fe Elementary School building, just a block or so from the Emeryville-Oakland border.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Parents/Teachers Left in the Dark About Dismissal of School Superintendent Lindo

School Board Met Four Times in Closed Meetings to Discuss Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release 

The Emery Unified School District refused to disclose the reason for the sudden dismissal of Superintendent Debbra Lindo at last night's School Board meeting stating only Ms Lindo is "on leave".  Attending teachers and parents attempted to get the Board to make some comment regarding Ms Lindo whom had recently promised to remain on as Superintendent until the close of the school year in June but the Board balked.  Board President Melodi Dice would only say the Board had "Nothing to share at this time".

John Quinn, the former State of California Department of Education Trustee and State mandated chief of Emeryville schools after the District went bankrupt in 2000 was at the Wednesday meeting and the Board voted to take him on as a temporary replacement for Ms Lindo.  Mr Quinn will serve as an "administrative advisor" until a permanent new superintendent can be found.

Records show the School Board met at least four times in late December and early January, with some Board members conferencing by phone from far flung vacation sites to discuss "public employee discipline, dismissal and release" in closed special executive sessions.

The loss of Superintendent Lindo comes on the heels of the loss of the Center of 'Community' Life project manager Roy Miller, also in January.  The Center of 'Community' Life, the schools rebuild project on San Pablo Avenue is just breaking ground for a two and a half year building project and the School District is now left with no staff institutional memory of the now ten year and more than one hundred million dollar project and none guiding it.

Mr Quinn told the Tattler the School District is not in financial duress as some had speculated after the sudden dismissal of Superintendent Lindo.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Breaking News: Emery Schools Superintendant Forced Out

Rumors were swirling around the Emery Unified School District today as parents, citizens and even teachers tried to confirm that schools chief Debbra Lindo, has been forced out of her position as Superintendent of the Schools.  The School District has not made a statement and they have refused to officially confirm or deny the rumor.  However, a high level District official that wished to remain anonymous told the Tattler today that Ms Lindo is as of now "on leave" and former Emery Superintendent and State of California Department of Education Trustee John Quinn has become interim Superintendent.  Ms Lindo announced months ago after a tumultuous season and a half as the chief, she would leave her position, but not until June.

If Mr Quinn has in fact replaced Ms Lindo as Emery's new Superintendent of the Schools, some have speculated the District could be in financial trouble and the State has taken over the District as they did after fiscal improprieties left the District bankrupt in 2000.  Emery only emerged from State receivership in 2011.

Ms Lindo's early departure could spell trouble for the Center of 'Community' Life, a massive schools rebuild project that has just broken ground last week.  The project Manager for that project, Roy Miller quit his position earlier in the month.   The project is slated for completion in 2015.

Ms Lindo served at the pleasure of the Emery School Board and they would have been directly involved in her removal but no Board members would speak to the Tattler.  The Board had only just begun a search for a replacement for Ms Lindo due to be completed in time for her previously announced June departure.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pledge of Allegiance at Emery Schools: Un-American

Children Coerced to Take Loyalty Oath

Want to hear something un-American?
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands."

Who would seriously make this pledge?  It's a loyalty oath and it's un-American (ironically).
Let's tell it like it is: it's an unconditional pledge of allegiance regardless of any action or policy on the part of the country.  It's anti-democratic at its heart.  It's "my country, right or wrong" and it's being foisted upon our children at Emery schools.

The same school district, Emery Unified, that claims to put a high value on teaching children critical thinking skills over rote memory skills or even propaganda, is the same district that is leading this pledge by coercion every morning (in some classes).  In case any children fail to get the message they must be loyal to America and take a loyalty oath at school, it's also repeated at School Board meetings.  They see it at City Council meetings.
The oath tells students to dispense with critical thinking and have faith in America.  Everything their teachers taught them about how to think critically is not really something they need to do.  It suggests if students see something not right with the country, they are to turn their eyes away and just be loyal instead.  Most children are probably able to simply mouth the words every morning without attaching any meaning to it.  But why are we asking our school children to do that?
Even at their World War ll concentration camps,
Japanese American children were coerced
into taking the loyalty oath.

California public schools are required to teach a few minutes of "patriotism" everyday.  That law was likely concocted years ago to push school children to recite the loyalty oath every day without directly forcing it.  But the recitation of this oath isn't patriotic.  It's actually un-patriotic because it tears down the democratic structures that buoy the country up and make it viable; able to work for the average person.
Better, Emeryville schools could satisfy Sacramento's patriotism requirement by teaching a different Article of the Constitution every day or something equally valuable.  Students should know about this loyalty oath, the history of it, perhaps they could critically explore the corrosive nature of it, they just shouldn't be coerced to actually take the oath themselves.  If parents or guardians find value in forcing their children to take the oath, they can do that outside of school.

Publicly administered loyalty oaths are off the table in a free country....or should be.  America is fine without its citizens relinquishing their own agency by taking such oaths. It's strong enough as it is without having to coerce children (or even adults) to suspend their ability to think critically and promise to be loyal without condition.  Never mind all the clap-trap about "under God" added in the 1950's, the first sentence of this oath is bad enough; it fulfills any definition of a loyalty oath.

The power elite should always be scared that the people will not be loyal to a system that does not benefit them.  The power elite, the plutocrats in the country, those who benefit from the status quo, have interest in average people taking this loyalty oath to heart.  It asks average people, those who make the status quo possible, to no longer be agents for their own interests.
People should only have allegiance to their country insofar as their country has allegiance to them and their interests. If the country is working for the average American, then they should support it.  If it stops working for the average American, they should stop supporting it.  Rather, they should confront it and force change.  Change is not loyalty.

People should never give their allegiance away so cheaply.  And we should not ask our school children to do it.