Monday, October 19, 2020, 4:37pm

Biden trounces Trump in state’s mock student election

Reflecting the challenges of organizing and engaging students online, the number of students participating in this year’s California Student Mock Election dropped precipitously from four years ago, according to figures release by the California Secretary of State’s Office.

But the outcome is the same: Middle and high school students lean Democratic and don’t like President Donald Trump any more than, according to polls, their parents do. Democratic candidate Joe Biden defeated him 68% to 18%, with a victory margin exceeding Hillary Clinton’s 58% to 20% win in 2016; in that election, more students than this year voted for Libertarian and Green Party candidates, accounting for the difference.

This year, students in 181 middle and high schools cast 43,294 ballots from home — about a third of the number of schools and 21 percent of the ballots cast four years ago, when voting was done in-person, with rallies and civic events in schools preceding voting. Election Day this year was Oct. 6.

The students also cast ballots for initiatives. A majority backed every one, and gave overwhelming support for Prop. 14 (the bond for stem cell research that they will be paying back, with interest, well into adulthood), Prop. 15 (a significant commercial property tax increase), Prop 16 (allowing affirmative action for college admissions) and, not surprisingly, Prop. 18 ( permitting 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they’ll be 18 by the general election).

John Fensterwald

Monday, October 19, 2020, 11:43am

State schools chief wants donations to expand anti-hate training

State grants to train teachers to teach students to be tolerant of other races and religions, as well as to people in the LGBTQ community, drew interest from 200 school districts within a week of being announced, said Superintendent of Public instruction Tony Thurmond at a press conference Thursday.

The grants were funded by a $200,000 donation from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation.

Thursday Thurmond asked that other foundations donate additional funds to expand the program, so that all school districts that want the professional development can offer it.

“I want to put a call out to other foundations as well, to help us work with those 200 school districts that are saying yeah, I want to be part of the solution at a time when there are those, even in the White House, who would divide us,” Thurmond said.

The grants are part of a “Education to End Hate” initiative launched last month. The initiative includes student and teacher webinars on how to end discrimination and a roundtable with political and social justice leaders on how to create safe learning environment.

“We want to send a strong message that we will not allow our communities to be separated, that we will teach about the impacts of slavery, that we will address that antisemitism is on the rise and that we must address the awful acts of police brutality and racism that we see playing out on our television screens, almost, almost nightly,” Thurmond said. — Diana Lambert

Diana Lambert

Friday, October 16, 2020, 2:57pm

Oakland’s McClymonds High declared safe for students after chemical contamination last spring

McClymonds High in Oakland Unified, which was shut down last February after trichloroethylene, or TCE, was found in groundwater near the school, is now safe for students and staff, officials said Friday.

However, the entire district is in distance learning due to Covid-19 and has not yet decided to reopen any of its schools to students. The approximately 350 students who attend McClymonds in West Oakland have been learning remotely since the district closed all of its campuses for in-person instruction last March.

The district, in partnership with the county and state, tested air and water throughout the campus and found that there is no threat of TCE. It did find PCE, or tetrachloroethylene, in the outdoor air around the school, but not inside the school.

Principal Jeff Taylor said some staff members are already working on the campus. The district has installed air purifiers in all classrooms and other school facilities such as the gym to ensure that students and staff have the cleanest air possible, said district spokesman John Sasaki.

The likely sources of the TCE, Sasaki said, were a nearby metal shop or the ABC Dry Cleaners. He said the district would continue to advocate with the city to clean up environmental pollution and toxins, which he called “injustices” that many people in Oakland and other urban areas are unfairly subjected to.

Theresa Harrington

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