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January 31, 2023

Letters to the Editor, Sept. 17

SRO reversal is disappointing

We are upset, but not surprised, to hear that the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees has voted to bring School Resource Officers (SROs) back to campus  A pilot program using education money, funding that was meant to go towards students, will pair an SRO with a mental health clinician and will cost close to $1.2 million. The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department already receives more than $92 million in annual funding from the County, and the Watsonville Police receive 40% of the city budget. The board decided to literally take money away from students that are dealing with a global pandemic, mental health issues, poverty, food insecurity, domestic violence, etc. Rather than investing in their education, they are investing in policing.

Voting “no” on SROs returning to campus could’ve meant bringing on one additional mental health clinician to each of the high schools, but this is not what happened. Clearly, the board decided to continue with punitive measures rather than to expand their mind to the possibility of resolving problems at the root. Why are we staunchly holding onto policing and law enforcement as our way of dealing with problems?

The truth is that we cannot “police” our way out of the issues that affect the daily lives of our young people, such as verbal, emotional, psychological, physical and sexual violence. We need root solutions. An SRO is an extension of a racist law enforcement system that traces back to slavery. They are trying to sell us on the idea that an SRO is meant to be a resource, and that it should be someone culturally relevant, with board input. Why not cut out the middleman and directly fund culturally competent programs that uplift young people and push them toward their full potential?

Today we bring back one SRO; what will tomorrow bring? With decisions like this, our schools continue to become facilities where poor kids of color are warehoused, with withering educational resources, a shortage of qualified teachers and lateral youth violence. The school-to-prison pipeline is here and thriving, and our youth are paying the price.

Rosaura Figueroa Mendoza, MILPA Collective

Pesticide warnings must be posted

I am writing in response to the “Guest View” published on Sept. 3. The lack of pesticide notification in our county and state has caused untold numbers of rural residents to become ill and/or impacted negatively. A remedy for this unacceptable state of affairs is to Stop Pesticide Secrecy now! Secrecy about future pesticide applications allows businesses seeking the least expensive way to make profits to poison our community without accountability.

Compensation or penalties only result after the harm has already been done. For example, scientists warned us years—even decades ago—that the tiniest amounts of chlorpyrifos damaged childrens’ brains and lungs. However, the Ag Commissioners did nothing to protect the public until ordered to do so by the recent state ban on chlorpyrifos. Now many farmworker families are suing the manufacturer, Dow, as they should.

 In the twenty years since the first chlorpyrifos warnings were published, innumerable farmworker families are struggling with children with ADHD, autism and learning disabilities. Had the Ag Commissioners acted on the community’s behalf after the first scientific studies were published, this human health tragedy could have been avoided?

We cannot count on the County Ag Commissioners to protect us. They have failed at this mandate for many decades now. Therefore, they must post pesticide warnings online, so we can do what they won’t: take care of our community’s health.

Ann Aurelia Lopez, Ph.D., Director, Center for Farmworker Families

The Pajaronian welcomes letters. Letters and columns may be dropped off or mailed to The Pajaronian, 21 Brennan St., Suite 18, Watsonville, CA 95076. Letters and columns may also be sent via email to [email protected] Letters should be less than 300 words, and columns are no more than 700 words. All letters and columns must be signed and have an address and phone number for confirmation purposes. We reserve the right to edit and condense all submissions.


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