Vibrant School District Starved by State

By Leslie Layton

Some California school districts have gone broke because of gross mismanagement. Some have gone broke on fraud and corruption. The Chico Unified School District has gone broke on good intentions and a crashing state economy.

You could argue that it went broke by providing what parents in this college town wanted, even when the district could no longer afford those amenities. It offered small primary school classes and high school electives like French IV and ran tiny schools in the nearby communities of Cohasset and Forest Ranch.

You could argue that it went broke giving raises to teachers after the union fought bitterly for what it considered a fair collective bargaining agreement in 2006. Or that it went broke because a former superintendent foolishly gambled on an effort to boost the attendance rate and overestimated income by $1.1 million for a two-year period.

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Dedication to Mercedes Sosa

by Leslie Layton
“All I Ask of God”

Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa died Oct. 4 at age 74. The news saddened a Sunday for millions of people who knew her voice that was deep and rich and her songs that were deep with meaning. Sosa became an icon because of both her native talent and her acquired courage to stand up to repressive regimes. She was once detained right along with her audience, which happened to be 200 students studying veterinary medicine.

In a way, Sosa symbolized what I came to love about Latin America during the decade of the 1980s, when I lived in Mexico City. Whether it was earthquakes that flattened cities or rigged presidential elections, people remained convinced that the struggle to improve their lives and achieve social justice was worthwhile. That was reflected and encouraged in the music of Sosa and her fellow Latin American folk artists who belonged to the musical movement nueva canción.

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Dance of Passion Demands Patience, Control

Flamenco_Show_400_284

photo by Erik Aguilar

by Tania Flores

I was introduced to flamenco by a blood-letting, like a tailored and sharply-cut red dress whipping out from the back of my head. I was introduced by a woman who had my name, who called herself La Tania, who marked the end of the time when the purity of ballet was enough to contain my six years of age. I watched her dance in Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium, my head wrapped in a turban of white bandages. Wearing my ballet tights and leotard, I had cracked my head open earlier that afternoon on a cold, metallic bathtub rim. La Tania’s resounding footwork helped stem the flow of the hysteria and screams, and transform them into echoing syllables.

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Class of ’09: Spend Your Pennies Wisely

by Tania Flores and Oliver Wong

People inhabit the Earth. These simple, inconsequential creatures mow lawns, collect knick-knacks, walk aimlessly, climb trees (sometimes even fall out of them), and bleed. Some people throw things, such as footballs, fits, and paper airplanes. They might also read books, pick flowers, or join gangs.

People love to run around and dance, create music and harmony. But they also enjoy making bombs and destroying lives. And for some unfathomable reason, they hardly ever use public pay phones anymore. People are obsessed with discovering the unknown, they are afraid to make mistakes, foolishly think that pillars can make them strong. They drink water, blow up balloons, laugh, and learn to recycle. Some people smoosh themselves under vending machines, others contract diseases. People create cures, and support groups. Sometimes people trip and fall flat on their faces, and sometimes they catch themselves before they make that fatal downward plunge. People tend to embarrass themselves more often than not, but they learn to laugh at themselves later in life.

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Vigil for Gaza Chico residents protest attacks in Gaza

photos by Tania Flores and Leslie Layton

In nationwide protests Jan 10, thousands of Americans encouraged debate over Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza. In Chico, several dozen people gathered at City Plaza and later downtown to condemn attacks that are killing hundreds of civilians, to call for a ceasefire, and to call on the United States to end its unconditional support of Israel. Tens of thousands of people protested in Europe and elsewhere, including about 2,000 Israelis who demonstrated in Tel Aviv against their government’s offensive, according to Inter Press Service.