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On local trashiness, PC schools & the walkout
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Len Shepherd doesn't feel good about what he sees in Ceres and he let the Ceres City Council know it last week.

There is no way to properly legislate people into caring but no doubt Len feels better for giving his opinion in a public forum.

"Ceres has not gotten prettier ... because the citizens don't care," Shepherd said. "I've seen people throw stuff down on the ground. They get out of their car - that probably has some way of putting garbage in it - and they dump it right on the ground in the parking lot at Save Mart or wherever they happen to be. I did say something to one guy about, ‘Hey you've dropped some stuff,' and he said, ‘Oh, it gives people work. They'll get it up.' Where in the hell is he living because I don't know of anybody here in Ceres that gets paid to go around and pick up after other people. I don't know, maybe I'm just getting grumpy in my old age but ‘Together We Achieve' sounds real nice until the citizens don't give a damn."

He suggested publicly that I do a story on the "trashy side of Ceres." I have, Len, frequently and it hasn't changed much. I once even drove around Ceres and took an account of the blight and mentioned what I found on specific streets. After the column was published I went back through and saw that nothing had changed. Shaming doesn't work.

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I read an article the Los Angeles Times did on the upcoming race for Denham's 10th Congressional District race. The Times said our ag-dependent area is "among the poorest areas of the state."

Ouch. I guess it's true but it has a rather urbane sting to it synopsis.

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I find it rather odd that the California Teachers Association would praise students for walking out of class Thursday in support of gun control. Imagine, the very profession that preaches being in class all the time advocating walkouts! Of course, the CTA would not have approved of students walking out "to make social change" in support of our national sovereignty being beefed up with a border wall. No, that kind of walkout would have been met with universal teacher condemnation.

When Rocklin High School history teacher Julianne Benzel made that very same point - only wondering what the reaction would be to walkout over abortion - her school administrators sent her home! UNBELIEVABLE! Most of her students agreed there is a double standard but Rocklin High sent her home, releasing this statement: "A Rocklin High School teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave due to several complaints from parents and students involving the teacher's communications regarding today's student-led civic engagement activities."

Like Mrs. Benzel, I am aghast. Rocklin's arrogant administrators should be fired for this blatant double standard and inherent unfairness.

Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel once said "Never let a good crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." You know, things like renewed pushes for gun control. The ugly truth is the left capitalized on the Florida high school shooting and is using the students as political pawns. Look, I don't think anyone is against better background checks for gun purchases so that madmen like Nikolas Cruz don't kill anyone but if someone wants to kill, they will do what they can to get their hands on guns. The country is flooded with stolen guns. Absent guns, killers will use other tools of destruction. Ever hear of the Bath, Michigan school massacre? I won't fault you if you have not since it happened on May 18, 1927. In that horrific crime, school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe firebombed the school with dynamite. A total of 38 school children and six adults were killed and at least 58 injured. No guns were used.

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Some of the finest students come from charter schools. I've noticed that charter schools seem to produce exceptional students. It comes as no surprise, however, that the California Teachers Association is threatened by them. It's about union teacher job security, I suppose, because teachers at most charter schools do not belong to unions.

The CTA's war against charter schools is reflective in last week's press release over a KIPP charter school in the East Side Union High School District in San Jose. The local board in San Jose denied the charter school but it's now being appealed to the state Board of Education. The CTA, with the aiding and abetting of a San Jose Democrat in state Senator Jim Beall, wants local boards to have all the control so "no" decisions cannot be appealed. Let's remember that charter school parents tend to lean more conservative and Republican.

It's always about "follow the money" and this is, of course, about money. While the CTA couches their opposition in an alleged concern about how special education students are served in charters, SB 1362 sounds more like a way of stifling charter schools. I doubt the concern is about special ed students and all about teachers. In a nut shell, the more money for charter schools, the less money for traditional public schools. Less money for schools, less money for union teachers. Less money for union teachers, more union teachers out of work.

The CTA doesn't hide this fact either. Beall said: SB 1362 "enables us to understand the fiscal impact the proliferation of charter schools has on the budgets of school districts and the districts' ability to provide adequate resources for special education students." And Marisa Hanson, math teacher at Evergreen Valley High School who also serves as president of the East Side Teachers Association, said: "Worse, approval of new charter schools can sometimes have a devastating impact on our neighborhood public schools. As enrollment has been declining and continues to decline in our district, we have watched new schools get approved and we shake our heads."

Maybe enrollment is declining because California's public schools frankly stink and parents are going elsewhere. Last year Education Week magazine gave California schools a C-minus grade, 10th from the bottom of all 50 states - and don't say it's because there isn't enough money.

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Speaking of the differences between charter schools and traditional schools, I couldn't help but notice how different the student walkouts were between Whitmore Charter High School and Ceres High School. The Whitmore Charter event was largely a non-political 17 minutes of silence for the 17 victims. Whitmore Charter students shied away from the gun debate. Ceres High's sounded a more political tone. For example, horribly-written leaflets were passed out at CHS which read:

"Republicans (talking about abortion): All life is precious, when you abort a baby, you're killing a baby, taking a life, it's such a horror, such a monstrosity....

"Democrat after school shooting: so if you're pro-life then can we ban guns because they're killing our children in their schools?"

The silly piece concluded with a photo of singer Mariah Carey and the words, "Republicans: I can't read suddenly. I don't know."

I truly hope that's not the best debate strategy being taught at Ceres High or if it's the product of years of being exposed to left-leaning reporting of CNN or MSNBC.

The mockery of Republicans in this piece is evident. Is the writer suggesting that hacking up the body of a living fetus is not a "monstrosity" since it's framed in a facetious vein? Why would a person who blames guns for tearing apart flesh and ending life not blame the abortionists tools for tearing apart flesh in the womb? It makes little sense in comparing the murder of fetuses, which is legal, with out-of-the womb murders and school shootings, which are illegal. It's fallacious to say that a person who wants abortion to end should support gun control. First, there is literally no way that 350 million guns can be removed from society, let alone from the hands of evildoers. Secondly, plucking people off at school like sitting ducks is already illegal yet people do it. Misuse of a weapon or tool should not mean all should give up the right to own that weapon or tool, which can be a tool for good. Thirdly, guns are not the only method by which people kill. (See Bath School Massacre mentioned above). Fourthly, guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens routinely thwart crimes and protect lives and property. Fifthly, our Constitution grants us the right to bear arms. Anyone who thinks we can wave a magic wand and make all guns go away is living in a fantasy world devoid of reality.

The first line of defense is not disarming good people but arming good people. A good case in point was the school shooting yesterday in Great Mills, Maryland in which an armed school resource office killed the shooter, Austin Wyatt Rollins, 17.

Let me ask you parents this: Knowing a policeman is four minutes away and if you knew a gunman were to walk into your kid's classroom, woud you prefer that the teacher have access to a gun and be fully trained to neutralize the shooter? Or would you prefer that nobody has a weapon in that classroom to counter the gunman and give your child a fighting chance?

I know what my answer would be. I prefer anyone with a CCW to be on that campus when the shooting starts.

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Speaking of Thursday's student walkout across our great land, did you hear that a Southwest High School student in Minnesota showed up with a Trump flag, and for his free speech was beaten by at least eight students and had his arm broke in two locations? The mob also broke a camera he was carrying. Such tolerant young people, huh?

And did you hear that student Jacob Shoemaker was suspended for remaining in his seat in class where he was supposed to be? School officials say that's not the whole story since the alternative was go to study hall. Jacob's dad suggested, however, that "My son was suspended for not leaving the room to either join a demonstration or reporting to the commons ... This had nothing to do with his own political beliefs, but with politics in school in general. Students should not have been forced to choose a side. He got support from students on both sides of the political aisle after returning today, but he felt there were many other students and staff angry with him."
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Ceres is just as polarized as the rest of the nation when it comes to politics.

Our Facebook page generated both pro and con to my opinion about the California Teachers Association going off the rails to support illegal immigration and supportive of Jerry Brown fighting enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. Most readers agreed with me. The younger set didn't, not surprisingly. They've been indoctrinated.

Arleigh Worstell (by her photo she appears to be a millennial), wrote of me: "Who is this unhinged dude? who hurt him? and why would someone post this inflammatory editorial on the courier's Facebook page? looks like the Ceres Courier supports it...?

Well, Arleigh, this "unhinged dude" - as you borrowed part of my language on me - has been editorializing in the Courier probably as long as you've been alive. I was hired back in 1987. Nobody hurt me but I can tell you that I used to be a liberal in college. I was influenced by professors who were not conservatives. When I grew up and started questioning the thinking on those campuses, and who had to pay for all these liberal programs, I saw that it was nothing but a ploy to make others dependent on government because people tend to vote and support the ones who dole out the free goodies. I'm frankly tired of my country being hijacked by a bunch of leftists who ignore laws they don't like. They swore oaths to support the Constitution yet fly in the face of it without accountability. If being pro-America, pro-law is inflammatory, so be it. I'll proudly be inflammatory.

Likewise Richard Caudillo wrote: "I never would've expected to see this coming from the Ceres Courier. I've been a supporter since I moved here 30 years ago. Which is exactly the amount of years this article just set the Courier back to." Where's Richard been? He said he's been a supporter for 30 years which is how long I've been writing for the Courier. I'm not sure why he is surprised.

I agree with what Karen Julio wrote: "Only a short two years ago, the Democrats were all for stopping the flow of unvetted illegal immigrants. Now, because it's all about Trump hate, they want to have open borders. Anything to be the polar opposite of anything Trump says. What happened to us being a "nation of laws"? Insanity...."

Indeed, Obama and Hillary Clinton once advocated enforcing border protection. Either they quickly shifted to the left for political expediency or they are just opposed to it because Trump advocates it.

The reason Trump is president is precisely of his commitment to enforce legal immigration. If the wall isn't built, I doubt if he's re-elected. It's that big a deal to most Americans.
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Siding with Karen Julio's observation that the party of the jackass (well, it is) has been swinging so far left it's unrecognizable to the Democratic politicians of my youth. I have been a political junkie since I was a kid and saved a lot of political materials. In the 1970s John J. McFall, a Manteca Democrat, was our congressman. I have a campaign brochure from the 1970s that shows his photo as Speaker Pro Tempore signing the Tax Reduction Act passed by Congress. Imagine, a 1970s Democrat supportive of a tax cut! You'd have a better chance of finding a gnat in a windstorm than finding a Democrat willing to support a tax cut today.

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A word to Austin Estrada, who chimed in in response to my editorial. He suggested that I forget history and that my editorial (if he read it) reflected "the same isolationist rhetoric used against Irish, Polish, Italians, Chinese, and any other immigrant group that has come here in the past 200 years."

Of course I believe in legal immigration, not the unbridled sneaking across the southern border. My great-grandfather came to New York from Switzerland in 1890. But I also believe in allowing immigrants who have something to offer the country in terms of skills and talents. That's not an isolationist view. That's reflective of a merit-based immigration policy. It makes no economic sense to grant citizenship to people who become a ward of the state. I realize it means votes for Democrats at the expense of those being taxed to support the non-working immigrant.

Austin goes on to say: "We witness the fall of entire empires and nations when they ... start pushing nationalist beliefs that their country is superior to others." This may come as a shock to Austin but you bet I think my country is superior to others. Apparently all these illegal immigrants think America is superior to their homeland too as they are trying to sneak in. If they're only here for economic benefit then the country has no use for them.

Austin also has a problem with my suggestion that all of us speak a common language. A common language is necessary to unity and progress. Perhaps Austin's teachers failed to teach him the ideology of progressive President Theodore Roosevelt who suggested this: "We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Lastly, Austin writes that it's a teacher's job "to protect ... all kids in the classroom; not just a few, not just ones who speak English." Truly, the job of a teacher is to teach and spark intellectual thought and part of that so-called "protection" involves teaching the English language.

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at He will read it, promise.