Truancy Arrests Sow Fear in Orland

by Leslie Layton

When Shannon Anderson asked the police who were on the porch of her Orland home why they planned to arrest her, an officer radioed the question to headquarters.

It was a recent March Monday, and Anderson had answered the door in her shorts, t-shirt and socks, hardly expecting to be greeted with handcuffs. She was shocked by the one-word response that came back over the Orland police radio: Truancy. Then, the 37-year-old mother of four was booked into Glenn County Jail in Willows on a $10,000 warrant.

Anderson soon realized she had been arrested in connection with her dispute with the Orland Unified School District over her youngest son’s attendance record. Her 8-year-old son Logan suffers from asthma, the cause of most of his 24 absences this school year. Anderson has only been able to persuade the school to excuse 14 of the absences, even though she says that in many cases the district nurse agreed Logan should go home. read more

Learning to Cherish Trilingualism

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By Mary Guillen

Growing up speaking Mandarin, Spanish and English is something I took for granted. It was not something I was proud of (much less boasted about) because most of my classmates were not racially mixed and they saw it as being odd or strange.

Before starting school, I never thought anything of it. But one day in first grade my friend commented on how weird it was that my parents were from such different countries. That was the beginning of a long period during which I often tried to hide my mixed heritage from my peers because I wanted to blend in. read more

Sickness in the 2nd District

by Leslie Layton

Butte and other counties in rural Northern California’s 2nd Congressional District suffer from higher-than-average rates of chronic diseases that would respond to prevention, and if it was more available, routine care. Our counties pay in terms of both personal health and emergency-room/hospital-care costs.

State Research Analyst Mike Kassis pointed out that access to primary/preventive care depends in part on affordability (which usually means having health insurance.) The recently-published study Kassis worked on for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development shows that $3.5 billion was spent on “preventable hospitalizations” in the state in 2008. read more

Lenguaje que Ofende

Jamie Fisher
Jamie Fisher

Por Jamie Fisher

Trata de pensar en alguna vez que conociste a alguien quien hablaba un idioma diferente que el tuyo. ¿Cuál fue la primera cosa que querías saber cómo decir? A lo mejor, preguntaste a dicha persona como maldecir en su lenguaje.
Especialmente, para los que están tratando de aprender un idioma nuevo es casi un prerrequisito saber manejar vocablos vulgares. No sólo porque ese vocabulario nuevo abre las puertas a un mundo inmenso de expresión, sino porque también le da al hablante novicio un sentido de poder, sabiendo que es capaz de cruzar fronteras lingüísticas para escandalizar, insultar y emocionar. read more

99 Words, Almost

School Mural

photos by Denise Minor

Editor’s note —

ChicoSol Adviser Denise Minor writes the second story in our Highway 99 series on Knights Landing, a northern outpost of Yolo County, on the Sacramento River. Knights Landing was an ancient gathering place for Native Americans and later a steamboat landing. Minor describes the town, about 10 miles from Highway 99 as the crow flies, on a morning in 2009.

by Denise Minor

School’s Out

The playground equipment is covered with a fine coat of dust at Grafton Elementary School in Knights Landing. A few plastic grocery bags are caught in the shrubbery. In front of the mural of white and Hispanic farmers shaking hands are empty parking places reserved for “Principal” and “Secretary.” At picnic tables, two older men wearing cowboy hats sit in the shade of large trees and chat in Spanish. read more

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. read more