Bee Opinionated: Examining the homeless survey + COVID in the classroom + AAPI changemakers

·3 min read

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This is Robin Epley again with The Bee Editorial Board, and I hope you are having a relaxing holiday weekend. One of my all-time favorite movies is a 1972 musical about the Founding Fathers, “1776.” I watch it every Fourth of July, and I’ve come to believe there’s truly nothing more patriotic than watching John Adams and Ben Franklin sing about the Declaration of Independence, clad in tight breeches and tricorns. Do yourself a favor and check it out — I promise you won’t regret it.

(“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a congress!”)

Looking a little closer to home … Last week I took a deeper look at the county-wide Point In Time survey, which purports to count the number of unhoused persons living in our community. It’s an imperfect system that comes with the caveat that it’s an undercount, but it still showed that there was at least a 67% in homelessness since the last census in 2019.

Opinion

I visited the Broadway underpass near Alhambra Boulevard in Sacramento, and talked to four men who were living there. Shane Weather told me that he has tried city and county services, but each time they apparently made him throw all of his belongings away. When those programs inevitably lose money, he’s right back out on the street again — but this time with nothing.

The intensity of the debate makes him feel like some people “wish they could just mushroom cloud us,” he said.

My colleague Yousef Baig also responded to the census report, writing on behalf of The Bee Editorial Board:

“County leaders have engaged in public spats with city officials rather than showing the meaningful region-wide leadership their housed and unhoused constituents need. The $50 million for homeless services authorized by the Board of Supervisors last year has borne little in the way of results. It still takes months to stand up triage shelters like the recently approved tiny home village on Florin Road, which will help 125 people. New facilities and capacity to shelter the growing homeless population remain a fraction of the county’s three-year spending plan for its state-provided mental health funds.”

Sacramento lacks fundamental collaboration and cohesion, he concluded. “Until the city and county improve relations, the unhoused population is likely to keep growing, and the public will increasingly turn to enforcement measures that fail to give people the services and housing they need.”

The Medium is the Message

“Last fall, Granite Oaks Middle School teacher Katie Ragan began a seventh-grade English class the way she had nearly every other: with a 10-minute news clip.”

So begins Hannah Holzer’s incredible column on the public shaming of a popular educator in the Rocklin Unified School District. It was all started by one parent who was outraged that she showed a CNN 10 student news clip about California’s mandatory Covid vaccine laws in her class — despite being allowed to under the state education code. Her administrators actually encouraged it.

Hannah winds a captivating tale of what it’s really like when educators come up against conspiracy theories. (Spoiler: It doesn’t end well)

One More Thing...

In partnership with the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program, The Sacramento Bee is honoring AAPI Changemakers right here in the Sacramento region. You can help us by nominating community leaders who have invigorated Sacramento with their vision, authenticity and creativity.

Candidates should be problem solvers who find solutions to critical issues through community organization, education, arts and entertainment, entrepreneurship, law, medicine and health care, science, politics, nonprofit leadership or activism.

Find more information, as well as a submission form, here.

Opinion of the Week

“There are beautiful, irreplaceable pieces of historic crockery in the White House, so you have to wonder if aides were subbing in IKEA dinner plates to limit the damage from the toddler in chief.” — Melinda Henneberger on the remarkable testimony from a former White House staffer aide who said former President Donald Trump chucked his lunch at the wall when Bill Barr told the Justice Department that there was no evidence of election fraud. Apparently it wasn’t the first time he’d forced a White House valet to wipe condiments off the wall.

Got thoughts? What would you like to see in this newsletter every week? Got a story tip or an opinion to tell the world? Let us know what you think about this email and our work in general by emailing us at any time via opinion@sacbee.com.

Stay opinionated,

Robin Epley

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