Todd Guild/The Pajaronian The PVUSD district office boardroom was packed Wednesday with students and teachers demanding the CRE contract be restored.

The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees will revisit a decision from last September not to renew a contract with an organization that helps teachers deliver ethnic studies curriculum, which now used in the district’s three comprehensive high schools.

That discussion will occur after new Superintendent Heather Contreras—whose contract was approved on March 27—has started in May.

That was the message Wednesday from board President Georgia Acosta, who was speaking to a room packed with students, teachers and community members, who came to demand the decision be reversed.

“We have heard you,” Acosta says. “And we’ve heard your concerns around the district’s ethnic studies curriculum.”

The contract in question is with Community Responsive Education (CRE).

The reason for the board’s rejection dates back to a 2019 pilot ethnic studies curriculum that was developed for the California Department of Education, portions of which members of the Jewish community, educators and lawmakers deemed anti-semitic.

One of the authors of that rejected curriculum, Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, also created CRE. 

Tintiangco-Cubales is a professor of Asian-American studies at San Francisco State University.

PVUSD hired CRE in 2021, and its pedagogy is now in use at the district’s three comprehensive high schools. The $110,000 contract was up for a one-year renewal at the Sept. 13 meeting.

The decision brought derision from the community, and prompted  the Watsonville is in the Heart Research Initiative, a collaboration between the Tobera Project and the UCSC Humanities Institute, to end its work with the district.

Roughly two dozen people addressed the board, nearly all of them speaking in favor of CRE. Even more attended the March 13 meeting, with the same demands.

Watsonville High School sophomore Desi Salinas-Holz says he is in his first year of taking ethnic studies classes. He says the classes have taught him about himself and myself and his community.

“It has already become one of my favorite classes,” he says. “It’s one of my most engaging classes too, and I think all of my classmates share that same thought. If you take a moment to look around, there’s so many students here, and our voices need to be heard.”

Watsonville High English teacher Bobby Pelz says that students are still receiving ethnic studies classes.

But the loss of the contract, he says, means that new teachers will not receive training to deliver the curriculum, which is a problem as new ones are hired.

“Off of the top of my head I can think of seven teachers that are teaching ethnic studies for the first time,” he says. “That’s a lot of teachers that aren’t getting education on teaching ethnic studies.”

The September vote, Pelz says, is a signal from the board that they are not willing to support the ethnic studies program. 

“If the teachers say we need this, and I’ve worked with Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales and I know she is not anti-semitic, and we have all this evidence to show this is not an anti-semitic program, then I don’t see what the problem is.”

Since it was rejected, numerous students and teachers have addressed the board, criticizing the decision and praising the ethnic studies classes they’re receiving.

Pajaro Valley High student Mark Mendoza-Luengas pointed out that ethnic studies is now a graduation requirement, and that not supporting the CRE curriculum is watering down the classes students are receiving.

“I am deeply angered and annoyed at the board’s decision of not renewing the CRE contract,”  he says. “The board needs to realize the huge impact this will have on future ethnic studies classes.”

Former Watsonville Mayor Manuel Bersamin, reminded the crowd and board that the district plans to ask voters to support a $195-$300 million bond on the November ballot, and urged the community not to support it until the CRE contract is restored.

“People of color have not been in the curriculum, and the reason why is usually because people in power do not want to empower people of color,” Bersamin says. “You insulted the Filipina-American professor who developed this curriculum, and we Asians will never forget that.”

Gil Stein, the only one to speak in favor of the board’s decision, dismissed accusations of racism and says he is not opposed to ethnic studies.

Stein added that, despite the fact that a majority of religion-based hate crimes are against Jewish people, anti-semitism and the Holocaust was mentioned only twice in the 500 pages of the rejected curriculum.

“I am opposed to the CRE contract,” he says. “And there’s a big difference. There are reasons why Governor Newsom and superintendent Thurmond rejected the draft of ethnic studies co-signed by the CRE consultant.”

This story has been updated from a previous version.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


  1. What are the reasons Gov Newsom and Sup Thurmond rejected the draft of Ethnic Studies and what are the results since?

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  2. PVUSD wants 195-300 million from taxpayers without providing us the plan of where these many millions of dollars would be spent, with declining enrollment? I think not! We just got hit with another tax increase for the local crappy hospital and now you have your hands out again, without ever documenting where the 150 million you got from us 10 years ago was spent. Doesn’t the school budget for maintenance like all other businesses, and have maintenance people working on payroll? Our local schools are not good neighbors. They allow the students to throw garbage all over the school and neighborhood. I never see the schools have garbage and cleanup days at the schools like they did in the past. There is garbage everywhere and the men who cut the lawns, just drive over it, spreading it all over neighborhood. They have no pride in their work and the schools have no pride in how they interact with neighborhoods. I will vote NO on any new school tax without seeing exactly where they plan to spend money, and what maintenance they shove off until they attack us with another tax increase.

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    • All their pride goes to the lgbtq+++++ community. The PVUSD is failing our students miserably.

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  3. Here comes the whiney babies with their “non violent” protests with pictures of the local school board who they don’t agree with and saying you’re next! Wow just wow it shows what “democracy” is doing to the kids these days. $110,000 seems like a lot of money to go towards a curriculum that probably provides nothing of importance for the future of the kids. Thankfully mine are now in a place where we love God, family and country. A place where I don’t have to worry about Democratic policies being shoved down our throats like in CA.

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    • I am with you! I moved to Florida but still. collect rent on my properties in Watsonville as others have done so I can pass all taxes and fees on to my tenants! They can raise all the taxes they want! These fees are not under rent control so I can take a handing fee on top of it for my vacations to the Caribbean!
      It’s fun to watch from here!

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  4. I actually attend the meeting and it was a joke. The school board is made up of people who dont even have school aged children in school let alone in the district. The board does not reflect the demographics of our community I wonder if any of them went to school in our district send there kids to our district or even live in Watsonville. We need to clean house and have board members who actually want to be there.

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