California Educator

April 2015

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Page 37 of 59

Hazardous Harvests In the wake of recent studies about agri- cultural pesticide dangers to public schools and children in Monterey and other Cali- fornia counties, the question that Ezekiel, CTA and others are asking is: Why isn't the state doing more to protect schools from the toxic crop chemicals? Salinas is a hub of California agribusi- ness. The state produces nearly half of all fruits and vegetables in the U.S., and Cali- fornia's agricultural production was valued at $46.7 billion in 2013, when the sector employed an estimated 348,900 people. The industry fuels the state's economy, but at what cost to the safety of local schools and communities? I N H I S F O U R T H - G R A D E C L A S S R O O M at Creekside Elementary in Salinas, Josh Ezekiel has a poster tacked up on the wall titled "How to Build Community" with sugges- tions for activities like gardening together, using the local library, knowing your neighbors. It also advises students to simply "ask a question" to learn about their neighborhoods. by Mike Myslinski "Immediate action is needed to reduce the health threats from pesticide use near schools. Limiting pesticide exposure for children, who are the most vulnerable to health risks of pesticides, is of paramount importance." Read the full CTA letter and a 10-page call to action from pesticide reform groups: pesticidehazard. CTA President's letter demands State make agricultural pesticides safer S E C O N D I N A T W O - P A R T S E R I E S o n t o x i c s c h o o l s 36 Feature

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