San Francisco: In April, A Teacher Was Paid Nothing. As A Result, The Principal Supported Him By Loaning Him $4,500.

Posted on

Thor Boucher, the principal of Monroe Elementary, is accustomed to aiding his staff, but he has never done it in the form of helping them pay their rent.

In his own checkbook on Wednesday, Boucher put in the date, recipient, amount, and signature of check No. 159.

Yuri Dominguez, one of his second-grade teachers, received a $4,500 cheque from the principal’s bank account in an act of irritation and compassion.

In light of the school district’s continuing payroll disaster precipitated by a January move to a new online system, Dominguez was unable to pay her rent on Thursday since the district failed to pay her at all in April, making her one of hundreds of victims.

The San Francisco Unified School District’s teachers and other employees have had to deal with many payroll problems for more than four months. Disruptions persist despite pledges by the district to rectify them.

To make matters worse, there is a severe financial gap due to dwindling enrollment and the appointment of three new board members after a successful recall. The district is also looking for a new superintendent to replace the departing one. After two years of scandal and instability, school board members expressed optimism that they might rebuild community confidence, but the payroll mess has only heightened tensions.

Problems with paychecks include underpayment or nonpayment for a month’s worth of labor, as in Dominguez’s instance. She added she’s also still missing half of her January salary after multiple emails, phone calls and escalation up the management chain.

It’s “dehumanizing to not get paid for work performed, but it’s even more demoralizing when no one recognizes it,” Boucher said, adding that he contacted the district this week, only to hear a tape claiming the individual was out of the office. That must be a great deal of work,” I’m sure. Is it any surprise that no one has reached out to us personally with compassion?”

In an effort to find a solution, dozens of teachers skipped a day of work on Wednesday to gather at district offices and queue up to speak with personnel from the payroll department in turn.

Around twenty-one members of the George Washington High School staff joined the protest, which went on all day, according to special education teacher Chris Clauss. “This was organized by average educators in the SFUSD who feel they have exhausted the traditional and expected methods of resolution,” Clauss said.

The payroll department will be bolstered by more workers, according to district officials.

The district’s EMPowerSF payroll system, developed at a cost of roughly $14 million by a vendor, went live in early January. It’s been described as having a “extremely high learning curve” for payroll personnel and everyone else who uses it, according to officials.

A total of 9,100 “tickets” were opened in the first 11 weeks of the system’s operation.

Multiple agencies must work together to resolve many of the problems, according to Deputy Superintendent Gentle Blythe.

SFUSD “truly apologizes for the numerous unanticipated problems that employees are coping with throughout the EMPowerSF transition,” she stated. “All of our district’s employees will get their overdue wages.”

By signing a contract on March 17th, San Francisco Unified School District administrators and labor union leaders committed to resolve payroll concerns within three days if an employee followed correct procedures, or to pay interest on the remainder. In addition, any costs incurred as a result of missing payments, including as overdrafts, would be reimbursed.

There are at least several instances when it hasn’t been the case. According to the teachers’ union, the situation is hastening the exodus of qualified personnel.

San Francisco Unified School District has to “make things right,” a United Educators of San Francisco spokesperson said in a statement. “We will be attending the school board meeting on May 10th to hold them responsible,” Amanda Hart added.

Although a teacher just earned maternity leave, according to Boucher, she hasn’t had a child in two years. A third employee hasn’t received a salary since February, when the payroll system amalgamated her and another employee with the same name into one.

Teachers are suffering from mental anguish, which has a negative influence on their work, according to him.

It’s impossible for a teacher to provide his or her students the education they need if they don’t get paid and are unable to pay their expenses.

District authorities announced on Wednesday that a check for Dominguez’s past-due April and January wages had been cut and shipped to him the day before.

It’s not the first time he’s heard that a check is on its way, but it’s the first time he’s actually received the money.

As a bilingual Spanish immersion instructor who was due money for half of the month, Dominguez says she made a request in January.

“I was being patient. I was understanding,” she said.

Days passed into weeks, which turned into months. In February and March, Dominguez received his wages in full, but in April, he received nothing.

When she finally agreed to the loan, she said that she appreciated her principal’s support. The thought of owing him such a large sum of money will keep her up at night.

It’s Dominguez’s responsibility to pay the rent by tomorrow, he added. “I needs to pay my bills. It’s my pay. I worked. I’m entitled to it. I shouldn’t have to beg them to pay me.”

A Teacher In San Francisco Taught About Slavery Using A Cotton Plant As An Example, Parents Divided Over Incident

Posted on

Parents in San Francisco are split over a teacher’s use of a cotton plant to demonstrate the challenges of slavery, given the sensitive subject matter, amid a nationwide conservative movement to eliminate such lectures from the school curriculum.

In an effort to educate her eighth-grade pupils about the dangers of harvesting cotton and removing the seeds, a history studies teacher at San Francisco’s Creative Arts Charter School brought in cotton plants, or bolls, to class on March 3.

School officials initiated an inquiry into the classroom activity within 24 hours, after several students complained that it was an unacceptable imitation of slavery.

For “unacceptable, harmful,” and “inappropriate” teaching that didn’t match the school’s “anti-racist, progressive-minded curriculum,” the school’s director wrote a letter to parents on March 4.

After the contentious lesson, the instructor was absent from school for five weeks. It’s unclear whether she was penalized or put on leave during the inquiry, but her parents believe it was because of it. On April 15, when the teacher returned, she made a written apology to the families of the students she had disciplined.

An interview with the instructor, who has not been identified by The Chronicle, was not possible.

All 435 pupils in the San Francisco Unified School District’s K-8 charter school are classified as either white (219), black (47), Hispanic (84), Filipino (14), or Native American (14).

At a time when states like Texas and Florida are barring classroom study of America’s racial history, the issue at this school has split the mostly liberal town.

“Teachers — like most Americans — struggle to have open and honest conversations about race,” according to a 2018 report by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. “How do they talk about slavery’s legacy of racial violence in their classrooms without making their black students feel singled out? How do they discuss it without engendering feelings of guilt, anger or defensiveness among their white students?”
.Teaching the past, and in particular the history of races in America, can be tough and painful, and Hasan Kwame Jeffries, an Ohio State University history professor, warns against “trivialize the subject” or “traumatize the children.”

“You just can’t, despite your best efforts actually recreate what slavery was like,” he said. “Any kind of simulation, any kind of re-creation, any kind of that hands-on kind of teaching, just pushes you into the area of re-trauma, traumatizing children and there are better ways to go about it.”

Rebecca Archer, a Black and Jewish parent of Creative Arts students, said the lecture on cotton bolls was inappropriate and that she was surprised to find it taking place at a progressive San Francisco school.

Re-creating settings that “evoke so many really unpleasant things about this nation,” she added, by placing raw cotton in the hands of youngsters, particularly kids of color like her biracial son.

“There are people who think this lesson plan promotes empathy; I’ve heard that and understand that,” she said. “There are a lot of people who don’t understand why it’s hurtful or offensive.”

She argues that students may develop empathy for slaves even if they have never suffered as slaves themselves.

According to another family member, the situation is “unbearably cruel” and “unbearably cruel” for the instructor who has been subjected to it.

“I think it’s insane they would treat a teacher like this and basically discard a teacher that has been so inspiring and dedicated,” said the parent, who requested anonymity to protect her child. “It feels like it was a lesson in sensitivity and empathy. That’s why my mind is so blown and I can’t stop being angry about it.”

While in other jurisdictions discussions about racism and white supremacy are forbidden because they might make white children feel guilty, the parent noticed that this lesson seems to have been criticized for the exact opposite reasons here in this state.

The instructor addressed a letter to the school’s families upon her return to work on April 15.

“Prior to spring break, I taught a tactile lesson involving raw cotton in an effort to get the students to understand the difficulty of manually processing cotton prior to the invention of Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin,” she said. “While this lesson was sourced from reliable sources, after conferring with the administration and hearing many of the students reflections, I realize that this lesson was not culturally responsive and had the potential to cause harm.

“In teaching U.S. history, there are many challenging and sensitive topics to learn about and I look forward to continuing to improve my approach to addressing these, with support from the administration.”

To deal with an imperfect scenario, Jeffries of the K12 Teacher Institute on American Slavery says that’s the best course of action. He went on to say that teachers would make errors while teaching about slavery and other controversial subjects.

“Making the mistake does not mean we shouldn’t teach it. It just means we should teach it better.”

There was no response from the school’s director, Fernando Aguilar, on any disciplinary action taken against the instructor.

“We didn’t feel like the lesson fit into our mission and our vision,” he said, adding the leadership is following collective bargaining procedures in regard to the teacher. “We don’t take things lightly that affect the well-being of our students.”

Professor Zeus Leonardo, from the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley, says that teaching difficult topics is an art form.

“Being uncomfortable is part of learning,” he said. “And part of the learning is in the discomfort.”

It’s important, though, to keep an eye on the appropriateness and execution of the knowledge you’re imparting.

“It could be producing harm for the very students the teacher thinks they’re speaking up for, whose history they’re trying to unveil.”

There are several places where you may get this lesson plan, including the Smithsonian Learning Lab, however it has been removed from some of those sites. Contrary to popular belief, however, this isn’t the first time that school officials have expressed worry over “cotton picking.”

In 2019, a mother in Flint, Michigan, questioned why her children were forced to clean or pick cotton, reenacting the persecution of their ancestors. The instruction was later dropped from the middle school curriculum.

An investigation against a teacher in New Jersey in 2020 found that he had kids lay on the floor plucking and washing cotton while the instructor made whipping noises. The instructor was found not guilty of misconduct.

During a cotton-cleaning lesson in Spokane, Wash., in 2021, two Black girls were given instructions and challenged to see who could do it the quickest.

An offer was made to remove the two girls from their classroom after their mother’s complaint. The mother asked for a formal apology and the dismissal of the school’s headteacher.

In the last several decades, teacher preparation has undergone significant transformations, according to Gilda Bloom-Leiva, a professor at San Francisco State’s Department of Secondary Education

Racism is “linked to generational trauma,” and student instructors are instructed to think about what problems or damage lesson plans could cause for students.

“We’ve come a long way in how we train teachers,” she said. “It’s more beneficial for the teacher, rather than just being suspended, to take a course on curriculum instruction on how to teach Social Studies in 2022.”

Jeffries emphasized the importance of the cotton-picking lesson plan as a learning opportunity.

“Polls show that most parents want their children to learn history the way it happened. They want them to learn the difficult aspects of America’s past so they can understand America’s present and be on a course to make America’s future better than anything we’ve seen before,” he said. “There has to be a little grace given, especially in this moment where teachers are being beat up for the wrong reasons. We have to teach this. We just have to do it better.”


The article is parpahrased from the following: S.F. teacher used a cotton plant to teach about slavery. The fallout has divided parents, Jill Tucker, April 22, 2022 Updated: April 22, 2022 11:33 p.m., https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/An-S-F-teacher-used-a-cotton-plant-to-teach-17121022.php

“Bike Bus”: From Barcelona To San Francisco – Kids Ride To Class On Bicycles

Posted on

In a Barcelona neighborhood, a convoy of kid cyclists glides down a car-free street as part of the city’s “bicibus” scheme to encourage green transport and physical exercise.

The children take to the streets every Friday in the city’s Eixample neighborhood, picking up other kids along the circuit and dropping them off at their schools, as a traditional bus route would work. The roads are closed to traffic to make sure the young riders are safe, and parents often join in, sometimes carrying younger children in bike seats.

The program, which was rolled out in September, has been so popular that other countries have replicated it.

In San Francisco, for example, Several dozen families and children rode through city streets — mainly using John F. Kennedy Drive through Golden Gate Park, which has been fully closed to traffic during the pandemic. The communal ride operates similar to a school bus, with bikers joining along a route that takes kids to school.

SF father Peter Belden, who organized the ride, said it’s the first-ever bike bus in the city.

“There were almost 30 people in the bus, and I think the next one will be double or triple,” said Belden, whose 13-year-old son joined the bus. “It’s so positive and fun for everyone. There were two kids who joined the ride, friends of my son, whose parents had meetings, and they were allowed to ride along. They hadn’t ridden their bike to school before, but because it was a bus, they felt safe doing it.”

Belden said he was inspired by the bike bus, or bicibús, that started during the pandemic in Barcelona and made national news.

“It started with 5 families. Now hundreds are biking to school together in Barcelona,” an NPR headline read.

Similar projects exist in other cities such as Dublin – “Ireland” and Buenos Aires – “Argentina”.

So far, it’s proven popular among the pint-sized participants. “Parents tell us that Friday is the day when they have the least difficulty to wake up their children,” said Genis Dominguez, 40, whose children participate in the Bike Bus and go to school in Eixample – “Barcelona”.

You can find more footage below:

Credits: Amazing school cycle bus become popular in Barcelona – Jan Hetaishi, Youtube.