California Educator

September 2016

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Page 10 of 57

Living in Interesting Times S A Y W H A T Y O U will about this year's presidential election, one thing it's not is boring. Differences between the candidates' views are so stark, and verbal exchanges so fierce, that the daily news, speeches, events and debates provide a trove of teachable moments for social studies students everywhere. Our story "Politics in the Classroom" (page 22) looks at how educators are incorporating these moments into ultra-relevant lessons on topics from immigration to electoral votes to appointing Supreme Court justices. " The election has been a circus, and everyone is paying attention — including students," says David Knatcal, who teaches civics at Burroughs High School in Burbank. Knatcal and other educators agree that because of this awareness, it's an exciting time to be teaching history and government. It's also a critical time for voters. As our special Campaign 2016 section (page 27) lays out, this coming election presents us with pivotal choices for the future — not just in who becomes president but in how we continue to give our students a 21st century education. California schools are still recovering from the Great Recession. Passing Propositions 55, 58 and 52, as well as electing candidates who support students and public education, will ensure that we can protect our children and build on what's working. Protecting our students is the whole point of CTA's Kids Not Profits cam- paign (page 36), which brings awareness to the growing industry of privately run charter schools. ese charters siphon funding from neighborhood pub- lic schools with little oversight and great profit for their operators, while their billionaire backers actively push a political agenda. It's time to demand accountability and transparency from this industry. Concerns about artificial turf in athletic fields are raised in our feature "Turf Wars" (page 18). Crumb rubber fields have saved water and been a big improvement over spotty, uneven grass, and limited tests have found them to be safe. But activist groups and some educators and school districts are concerned that high levels of toxins from recycled tires may be harmful to athletes and kids, and now broader tests are being conducted. Students stage a mock presidential debate at Kennedy High School in Fremont. Speaking of protection, "Site Reps at Your Service" (page 46) tells about union site reps who volunteer their time on top of their full-time job to be a resource and sounding board — and your first line of defense. ese unsung heroes defend your rights, monitor and enforce the contract, and advocate to improve working and learning conditions. Protections like these are necessary for educators to do their jobs and inspire and guide students for- ward — day after day, year after year. In "Reflections of a Veteran Educator" (page 17), Leslie Young writes beautifully of how she continues to find meaning in her "crucial" mission, and why "I will continue to accept it until I can no longer do so physically or mentally. Any- thing less feels like caving in to those who would like to see this great public experiment fail." Onward and upward! Katharine Fong E D I T O R I N C H I E F Good Works Santee Teachers Association member Chris Stanley has been bringing his passion for fishing to students for almost 22 years (see page 45). Know of other members doing great things for kids or other educators? Tell us at, with "Good Works" in the subject line. 7 September 2016

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