Charter School Interrupted

by Leslie Layton

Sydney Cambra, who spent her sophomore year at the fledgling Chico Green School, scrambled this week to enroll at another school a week after classes had begun in the Chico Unified School District.

Cambra, who chose Chico High School, was forced to make the switch after CUSD revoked the Green School’s charter and reported it in violation of state law. Representatives at the school subsequently announced it was closing its doors to fall-term students.

Chico Unified School District says the charter high school has violated the Brown Act, California’s open-meetings law. The decision to pull the year-old school’s charter was based also on its failure to become a candidate for accreditation after a spring visit by an accreditation committee, but it was the Brown Act allegations that dealt the hardest blow. Violations of state law trigger a cut-off in funding to charter schools that are run independently but financed by public monies. read more

California Was Never Kansas Poetry of Place

I can’t tell anymore
where this valley ends and where my body begins

driving the length of california
I am shedding potentialities,
rejecting visions,
brushing off hallucinations from my lips and my waist.
not long until
skin ripping
from the contours of the buttes,
from this canyon like a womb

what they don’t know is that
my body
is malleable, transplantable
and what they don’t know is that
my body
absorbed this landscape,
acorn soup and antibodies,
poison oak immunity —
you would think I am native,
you would think I am what you are read more

Tribute to a Latin American Icon

by Tania Flores

The words and melodies of Facundo Cabral have haunted me for almost a year now, surging and welling up in me on days when I can feel wistfulness in my muscles and the folds of my skin tingle with the touch of fabric or the cool wooden surface of my desk. I could not stop listening to “No soy de aquí, ni soy de allá” after discovering this recording, could not help but sink into the song, the back of my throat prickling.

Cabral’s words, the tension between the verses of his songs, have the capacity to evoke visceral responses; Cabral touched on what was palpable, present, and sensory, the details that constitute what is pleasurable in life. His music articulated a simple and abiding love of life, a love of the experience of being human, as well as distaste for the excess and infrastructure and false needs that distance us from that experience. read more

Redistricting to Shift Voting Districts;
Citizen Engagement Limited

Seng Yang

photo by Leslie Layton

Seng Yang, program director for the Hmong Cultural Center, says he’d like to know more about what redistricting might mean for Butte County’s Hmong community.

by Leslie Layton

CHICO, Calif.—For the past 24 years, Republican Congressman Wally Herger has represented a swath of Northern California, seldom facing opponents who have had the financing or support to present a serious challenge. Yet, throughout the Northern Sacramento Valley, residents say they’re eager for competitive campaigns that address high unemployment and poverty rates, immigration reform and health care.

Redistricting, now underway by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, has given some hope to Democratic Party strategists that they might be able to better compete in conservative central California. But the voting maps released last week by the redistricting commission would also reduce the number of Latino voters in the district represented by Herger. That concerns some Democrats, who see ethnic diversity as the future of the party. read more

Mr. Vig’s Lesson: Failure Not Acceptable

Bernie Vigallon

photo by Leslie Layton

by Leslie Layton

For the past 20 years, Fair View High School Principal Bernie Vigallon has roamed his continuation school campus and beyond, busting pot-smokers and herding kids to class. At the end of the school day, he often visited families, sometimes bought them groceries and on one occasion, pulled a student who was missing the critical days prior to graduation from a den of methamphetamine use.

Vigallon, who during his 30-year tenure in the Chico Unified School District came to be known as “Mr. Vig,” retires June 3 as Fair View principal and as director of alternative education for the district. In the latter position, Vigallon built a program that now serves 500 students — kids who suffer from alienation or abuse, who struggle with learning issues, or who became immersed in delinquency or drugs. read more

In the Western Sahara, Music is a Bridge


by Washington Quezada

In 1975, Spain abandoned its position as colonizer of the African Northwest, producing an intense instability among the people in the region. Morocco took advantage of this situation by invading the land that belonged to the Saharawi people, who had to live from then on in refugee camps in Algeria. Mariem Hassan, who had been part of the clandestine parties celebrating Saharawi culture during the Spanish colonial period, became a messenger for her people, communicating the living conditions they suffered, isolated in the refugee camps. She traveled with a group of musicians to let the world know about the Saharawi situation. read more