Daily news from Monterey County Weekly

ETC. Photo of the day by Larry Hayes. Nature’s artwork, revealed by an ebbing tide at Del Monte Beach in Monterey. Photographed with an iPhone 11 plus. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

 

People show their ignorance of what’s being taught in Salinas public schools.

Good afternoon. 

Mary Duan here. Over the past several months, all across the country, there’s been an organized effort led by right-wing fringe conservatives to bash critical race theory and ban it from being taught in schools. Along with that organized effort and bashing, there’s been a lot of misinformation being spread about what critical race theory is, and that misinformation is being spread by people who believe that all it takes to be heard is for them to shout the loudest.

Because when lies are being spread, it’s always best to be as loud as possible about it.

That brings us to the Salinas Union High School District Board of Trustees meeting of June 22, with an entreaty posted to social media by a woman who leads a local anti-vaccination group: “If your kids go to ANY school in the (district) SHOW UP to the meeting… This will remain if we stay silent and if the school board doesn’t want to listen, PULL YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM AKA INDOCTRINATION CAMPS! #RiseUp831.”

Critical race theory, her post continued, “is a divisive, racist, indoctrinating framework being taught in this district under the guise of ethnic studies. Chanting to the Aztec god of human sacrifice is included along with a BLM Unity Chant. Tell SUHSD to remove this political indoctrination immediately.”

Chanting to the Aztec god of human sacrifice? This I gotta see, because as I understood it, critical race theory is the study of systemic racism and an examination of how our system of government and government policies can perpetuate systemic racism, even unintentionally.

I tuned into the meeting, and it was a spectacle of misinformation and hostility and shouting. For about 40 minutes, speaker after speaker, based on the misinformation being spread on social media (because when lies are being spread, it’s always best to be social about it), took the SUHSD board to task for things they’re not even doing and for things that aren’t being taught.

And sure enough, it was as if they were reading directly from the social media post. From one: “You have an ethnic studies curriculum [and it’s] offering critical race theory under the guise of that title. You are promoting chants to the Aztec god of human sacrifice. You also include an activist toolkit… our political ideologies should be left out of the classroom.”

From another speaker: “I am appalled to think you are entertaining the idea of putting this kind of garbage in our children’s minds… what on earth are you people thinking? Are you trying to destroy the innocence of our children?” From another, referencing the ethnic studies curriculum: “How many of you have actually looked at this garbage?”

Here’s the thing. Ethnic studies has been formally taught in Salinas schools for at least three years, first as an elective and, starting last year, as a one-semester graduation requirement. The curriculum has been online from the start, and it was developed after extensive dialogue with a variety of stakeholders and approved by an elected body before being implemented.

And there’s no chanting to an Aztec god, of sacrifice or anything else. When talking about how groups create unity, there’s a discussion of how chants can be used to facilitate it, “si se puede” or “one struggle down, many more to go” style.

“What transpired last week,” a weary Superintendent Dan Burns tells me, “was sad and frustrating. This was an attack on a government entity in an attempt to portray critical race theory as the evil of all evils.”

Burns knows critical race theory has become a focal point of what’s being termed a culture war, and groups have organized to look at school board agendas, find anything that looks like an opportunity to come in and make a show of protest so they can record it and put it on social media.

“There’s such bad information out there. People haven’t done their homework and they believe kids are being brainwashed in school and that’s not happening,” Burns says.

The item that raised ire on the June 22 agenda? Voices of Monterey Bay, an online news source, wants to rent a room from the district to teach their annual journalism bootcamp, entirely free, to local kids who want to learn to tell their own stories.

What are the aggrieved masses so afraid of? That children will learn to tell their stories?

-Mary Duan, managing editor, mary@mcweekly.com

 
 
BY THE NUMBERS

At the end of the rain year (July 1), a snapshot of the state’s water supply reservoirs shows a stark view of what we already know—it’s dry out there. Most reservoirs are currently (shown in blue) far below the historical average (shown with a red line).

 
 
LATEST LOCAL NEWS

Delta variant now detected in Monterey County; officials urge continued vigilance against Covid. Three residents have been confirmed to have contracted Covid caused by the Delta variant, the Monterey County Health Department announced today. Health officials are especially concerned about the risk the more transmissible variant presents to unvaccinated people.

State extends its eviction moratorium and goes big on rent relief on the brink of a deadline. With a statewide eviction moratorium about to expire, lawmakers introduced Assembly Bill 832 to extend the end date to Sept. 30, and bolster rent relief payments to landlords to 100 percent. (Those who applied previously, under an 80-percent formula, will receive the additional 20 percent.)

Rep. Panetta puts the pressure on the feds to let locals take over the Pacific Grove NOAA site. After successfully removing the building from a bulk sale with 11 other federal properties, Panetta is continuing to try to persuade the General Services Administration to donate the building to a local nonprofit group, much like the group behind COAST—Center for Ocean, Art, Science and Technology.

A murder trial is delayed because attorney visits to the jail came to a stop during the pandemic. A trial that was supposed to begin on June 14 has now been pushed out to November, after defense attorney William Pernik sought and obtained an emergency order from the Sixth District Court of Appeal preventing Monterey County Superior Court Judge Mark Hood from starting it.

 
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LOCAL INSPIRATION

LOCAL INSPIRATION of the day. We’ve all changed in the past 15 months of pandemic life, and the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History is no exception. On Friday, July 2, the museum will open a new exhibit called Changes of Monterey, which “celebrates the habitats of Monterey County and raises awareness about human impacts on our delicate ecosystems over time.” During the opening, attendees will also get a chance to meet the museum’s new executive director, Carla Bitter. The celebration happens all day, from 10am to 4pm. Plus, there will be special evening activities during the return of P.G.’s First Friday from 6 to 9pm. Submit your Local Inspiration (digital art, music, multimedia, video, etc.; please include the medium you’ve used, and note when and where it was created).

Eat a donut, support some local Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts Troop 60 is having a donut fundraiser to pay for their annual summer camp and other activities. One box is $10, plus $9 for each additional box. More details here.

Drink a coffee while you shop for a plant. Here’s a new combination: a breakfast and coffee spot, plus…plant shop. It works. And it’s called Power Plant Coffee (in keeping with its location near the Moss Landing power plant).

Soledad community center, plus upgrades. Renovations include a brand-new fitness center, cell phone lockers, new paint, free Wi-Fi connections and more. The center has hired 30 new part-time employees (29 of them are Soledad residents) to staff programs, and the center is designed to function as a cooling center during heat waves.

 
 
BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® REAL ESTATE

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IN CONTEXT

California takes another step toward decriminalizing psychedelics. A bill that would allow those 21 and older to possess psychedelics for personal use and “social sharing” cleared the Assembly’s public safety committee and heads next to the health committee.
-Associated Press, June 30, 2021

The Supreme Court has invalidated a California donor disclosure law. The law required charitable organizations to report major donors to the California Attorney General (as well as the IRS). Liberal justices worry about the impact the ruling could have on anonymous money in politics.
-CNN, July 1, 2021

 
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HELPFUL DISTRACTIONS

The best in space photography. A shortlist from the The Royal Observatory Greenwich's 13th Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition

The first openly transgender Miss USA contestant. Kataluna Enriquez is Miss Nevada.

 

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