Parents calling for in-person learning and supportive of the online group Reopen California Schools got an earful over the weekend. A teacher who lives in West Sacramento but teaches at Kennedy High School in the Sacramento City Unified District went on a rant Sunday morning on Facebook, the Globe has learned.
“During a call-in board meeting he gave a four minute rant calling all parents that want their kids back in school ‘white supremacists,’” a parent told the Globe. Reopen CA Schools posted it to their twitter feed. “And the guy, Damian Harmony, still has the comments proudly posted to his FB page.”
One teacher called the Globe Thursday and spoke extensively about the teachers union pressure taking place to keep kids out of school, as well as the less-than-serious attempts by school districts at getting students back into the classrooms for in-person learning.
Another teacher said one district actually asked the students if they wanted to come back to school. Only about 40% chose to return to in-person teaching, and they are very limited to in-class time, their desks are spaced out, they cannot touch, and must wear masks.
The teacher said the students are confined at school to little trails and arrows, can’t congregate, there are no dances or rallies, and they are distanced. “That’s not really being back at school,” the teacher said.
All of the teachers the Globe spoke with, from several different school districts, referred to a “culture of intimidation being used by local union leadership.”
An email from another teacher offered additional context:
On Sunday March 28 a Sacramento Unified Teacher, but West Sacramento resident, Damien Harmony called parents who are pushing for schools to resume in-person learning, as “white supremacists” and pearl-clutching bullies.
Damien Harmony is on the negotiating team for the Sacramento City Teachers Association.
On March 31, our Washington Unified School District issued a public non-apology apology without addressing the specific remarks made.
But there is more to our story. We are a district where 71.2% of the student population is of color.
On the north side of our town 89% of our families qualify for free and reduced lunch.
According to a survey issued by our own district, over 60% of families want in-person instruction.
In January our district hired the first black Superintendent in 100 years of our history.
We are a district that beautifully represents a cross section of America’s cultural, social, economic and religious diversity and yet our school district failed to issue a strong statement. It failed to denounce the baseless allegation of white supremacy, and it failed to issue a statement that supported our culturally diverse community.
Reopening our schools to the fullest extent possible is not a racial issue – it is an equity issue. This is particularly true here in California where education is constitutional right guaranteed to our children.
The teacher also wrote, “WUSD Board of Education President Coby Pizzoti is a union lobbyist in his full time occupation.” The Globe verified that Mr. Pizzoti is a lobbyist and a partner in a lobbying firm, and is also a volunteer Trustee on the Governing Board at Washington Unified School District. His school board bio says, “He has worked for four individual legislators, Assembly speakers Herb Wesson and Fabian Nunez, labor organizations and political campaigns. Mr. Pizzotti’s experience with labor and politics dates back nearly 20 years.”
One of the parents in our last article said, “It’s starting to get really ugly here in our one horse town… our one horse town that had the Governor endorse the School Board President,” the parent said ironically.
That could explain Mr. Pizzotti’s photo on Linkedin.
The teacher confirmed the limited in-class schedule: “At the current time, our school district remains in a 2 hour / 2 day per week in person hybrid. For example, our fifth grade students are receiving 100 to 200 minutes LESS of instruction per week than in the traditional in-person model.”
“The culture of intimidation being used by local union leadership is preventing our school children from returning to class and forcing our children to fall further and further behind.”