This Fusion piece has been sitting, open, in my browser window since I read it earlier this year. It hit home for me because the story of the the writer was a little too close to my own experience attempting to convince my neighbors to give their local neighborhood school a try, except I usually feed and water people with coffee and sweets instead of wine. It did make me think that I should be offering folks wine instead. Anyway, the title: American schools are still segregated. These parents are making it worse.
I’ll first say that my neighborhood school is as diverse as it can be. And I’m not talking about the comfortable “diversity” that is promoted by having a classroom photo with at least one black, brown, and yellow kid in the mix. I’m talking about real diversity where no one ethnic group is the dominate majority. Ruby Bridges largely reflects the real world with its socio-economic and racial diversity which is what we’re all told that children need in order to grow up as healthy, well-rounded adults who can navigate the world. While Ruby Bridges may reflect the neighborhood around it racially, it doesn’t socio-economically. From the piece:
Because while my children’s school, Cook-Wissahickon, is well-integrated ethnically, there is a lopsided socio-economic dynamic. Eighty-two percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged, but while our neighborhood isn’t wealthy (according to City-Data, the median household income is $10,000 higher than the state’s median household income) the neighborhood certainly isn’t struggling in the way that 82% implies. It’s just that most of those middle-class families won’t send their kids to the neighborhood public school.
Tonight at the City Council there is an agenda item about an Economic Development Strategic Plan because we want to encourage jobs to come to Alameda, but when it comes to paving the way for industries that support the businesses that we want we don’t do that good of a job to make sure those businesses are welcome.
The strategy background report is an interesting one, it’s very readable and divvied up into sections like “threats” and “opportunities.” It’s worth a read if you’re interested in those kinds of things.
But, just as an aside, here’s one thing that this City Council can do to say that it’s committed to economic development: they can approve the Bladium parcel map application and the Williams Sonoma warehouse lease.
A few things happening this Monday, first is Hands Across Alameda which is an event created by the moderator of Alameda Peeps to get folks to come together and make a highly visual statement that, despite the national insanity, this city is unified and supportive of all residents. From the event details:
On February 20th, 2017 residents of Alameda and surrounding cities will meet on the beach to create a human chain stretching the entire length of Alameda Beach and then some.
The goal is reach from crab cove to the bay farm bridge, where residents from bay farm will continue to chain along the bay trail.
This is not a fundraiser. It is simply a gesture of support and unity for all the residents in Alameda and beyond.
Simply put, everyone belongs here.
Also, if a show of unity is not enough and you want to do more at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, February 20 there will be a town hall on the next steps around the City’s Sanctuary City policy. From the Facebook page invite:
I totally forgot that I didn’t write about this one particular issue until I went back to rewatch the Planning Board agenda item about the St Charles Street addition. It got lost after the post about James Edison and everything else that happened.
Anyway, in a discussion about the neighborhood parks at Site A, this was one of the things that came up:
The further explanation involved mentioning loud adults, but that reasoning felt a little, well, weak when the subtext felt a lot ickier.
In yet another major loss for the Alameda School Board and Alameda as a whole, yesterday it was reported that Board member Solana Henneberry passed away on on Tuesday.
From the East Bay Times:
Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the death of Solana Henneberry, a trustee with the Alameda Unified School District, who died Tuesday of breast cancer. She was 44.
Henneberry was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, just months after she secured a seat on the school board. She initially thought she had beaten the disease, but then late last year learned it had returned, her husband said.
I was looking at the agenda for next week’s City Council meeting and noticed that this residential project had been Called for Review. For those that don’t watch the Planning Board meeting this was a garage and artist studio project for a super nice house on St Charles Street. Apparently the homeowners — new Alameda residents — wanted to build a new three-car garage and artist studio on their property. But there was a small issue of some Live Oak trees on their property.
So they did the right thing: hired the right architect, hired an arborist, hired a structural engineers, invited their neighbors over for wine and cheese to discuss any issues they may have had and tried to mitigate the concerns. They did everything that you hope that your neighbors would do if they’re building a new structure near your home.
Some neighbors were appeased, others were not. And so after two visits to the Planning Board they received approval with some conditions about pruning of the Live Oaks.
Did I mention that one of their neighbors filed a CEQA complaint as well necessitating the hiring of the lawyer? Yeah. Quite neighborly.
Tonight at the Planning Board, the Universal Design Ordinance is on the agenda for a study session. In general I’m very supportive of Universal Design, particularly in new construction units, but I am a bit concerned about some portions of the Universal Design Ordinance. Not from an accessibility stand point, but from an affordability point.
Already Alameda and the Bay Area as a whole has large swaths of areas that are unaffordable. Rents have softened in some areas, but that is a softening from an unsustainable high. Still housing sale prices are insane right now, so the alternatives for housing are pretty limited for people looking for housing right now.
Here’s the part I’m concerned about in the Universal Design Ordinance:
“The 100% Requirement”. (Section 18.4.a) Every new unit built in Alameda should be “visitable” by a visitor with mobility issues and provide for “the basic needs of a wide range of guests to enter and use critical portions of the home, to the greatest extent possible.” Section 18.4.a requires that a visitor can get to the front door, get though the front door, access a bedroom or common visiting area, access a ground floor open space, and use the bathroom without having to negotiate stairs. The other bedrooms and bathrooms, the kitchen, and all other spaces within the home can be on upper levels accessed by stairs.
So, for those of you with kids in the school district and are involved in any sort of PTA fundraising you will know about the incredibly high cost for transportation for school kids. Because the District has required that all schools only use a select number of transportation companies for any school related activities, schools are faced with just a handful of transportation company having a de facto monopoly on transporting children for this school district.
Now this may not be as big of a deal for PTAs that fundraise between $60 – 100K per year, but for PTAs like Ruby Bridges it’s a big fucking deal.
Because, of course. From a Press Release sent out on Tuesday:
Three plaintiffs who have previously sued Alameda Unified School District over its parcel taxes have filed a new lawsuit alleging Measure B1 is illegal.
The measure, which is essentially an extension of the current Measure A, was passed by 74.2% of voters in a record turnout this past November.
The three plaintiffs (Nelco, Inc., Santa Clara Investors II, and Edward Hirshberg) were part of a group that also sued the district over Measure H, a parcel tax passed in 2008. In that lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that the measure’s differing rates for residential and commercial property owners were not “uniform” as required under state law. That lawsuit was settled in 2014.
You know that the FAAS issue wasn’t even on the City Council’s agenda last night right even though public speakers were urged to come out to the meeting.
Anyway, according to folks who were present there were no handouts at the meeting on Monday night about the ask from FAAS. The only print out that night was a certain blog post that is popular with the the FAAS set.
There was a powerpoint and I have the slides.