8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 21-27, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news In January 2017, Monterey County was hit with an onslaught of storms, exacerbating damage in Big Sur and Carmel Valley from the 2016 Soberanes Fire, which left burn scars on 132,127 acres that were more prone to erosion and runoff. Big Sur’s Palo Colorado Road sustained major damage in various places, including a complete washout at Rocky Creek. That was repaired by 2018, but the approximately 3.8-mile eastern stretch of the road still needs work. The County of Monterey put out a request for proposals for engineering and design for the project in October 2020, and in March 2021 the County Board of Supervisors hired a firm, now called Consor Inc., to conduct the work, which last fall culminated in a “mitigated negative declaration” environmental document, which means the firm, and the county, do not believe the project will require a full environmental impact report. The Board of Supervisors approved that document on March 19 of this year, the first in a series of many steps to repair the road. There will be permits required from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Coastal Commission. There’s also the price tag: The estimated remaining construction costs are roughly $12 million. Enrique Saavedra, the county’s chief of public works, says only some of the repairs are eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, so the county will be looking for grant opportunities. If the money was in hand, he says, the county could complete the project in three years, barring any permitting snags, meaning 2027—a decade after the damage was incurred. Long Slog Miles of Palo Colorado Road have been closed since 2017. Progress is happening, but slowly. By David Schmalz About 100 people rallied outside of a Pajaro Valley Unified School District board meeting on Wednesday, March 13, demanding the district bring back Community Responsive Education. “We’ve been asking for them to renew the CRE contract and they just keep ignoring us,” says Lourdes Barraza, a mother of two. CRE is a consulting group based in Oakland that helps schools and universities develop an ethnic studies curriculum, based on the needs and makeup of their communities. CRE has been part of PVUSD’s three high schools since 2021. In September, the board declined to renew a contract with CRE due to allegations of antisemitic views held by Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, a San Francisco State University professor and CRE’s founder. Tintiangco-Cubales was one of the authors of the state’s ethnic studies draft curriculum in 2019. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that Jewish organizations opposed the curriculum because “it did not reflect the American Jewish experience and even advanced some forms of antisemitism.” PVUSD teachers, parents and students say the board rejected the contract without conducting a thorough investigation. “They didn’t do any research. They didn’t talk to anybody, no students, nothing—and they just said no more content,” says Bobby Pelz, an English and ethnic studies teacher at Watsonville High. For over an hour, the board listened to numerous comments in favor of CRE and demands to bring the company back. Only one person showed support for the board’s decision. “You voted not to end ethnic studies, just to not renew the contract of CRE. That was the right decision then, and is the right decision now,” Gilbert Stein said. “Complaining about decisions that have already been decided is not the best use of your time.” Still, Claudia Monjaras, PVUSD’s assistant superintendent of elementary education, says the denial was surprising since the board has been very supportive of ethnic studies. The phase of the contract the board rejected would focus primarily on coaching and training administrators. Students will continue to have access to ethnic studies classes, but according to Monjaras, the end of the district’s relationship with CRE will hinder the district’s ability to develop more ethnic studies courses to fulfill student demands. “We need to have folks who are trained and experienced and have their degrees in ethnic studies to help guide us in that work,” she adds. Teachers say CRE improved the content they offer in their classrooms. At the beginning, their best resources were books and internet searches. “It was really just teaching ourselves ethnic studies,” Pelz says, noting most of the teaching team was white with no background in teaching ethnic studies. Students showed up at the rally and spoke in support of the curriculum. Emilia Hernandez, a senior at Watsonville High, says she feels more proud of her heritage and Maximiliano Barraza, 15, says he has become a better person. “It helps you improve the way that you perceive the world,” Barraza says. Last year, PVUSD received an anti-bias education grant from the state for $200,000 that it intended to use toward the $110,000 contract extension with CRE. A rally at a Pajaro Valley Unified School District board meeting on March 13. Students said ethnic studies classes helped them see things from different perspectives. Ethnic Clash A frustrated community demands the PVUSD school board bring back an ethnic studies consultant. By Celia Jiménez A complete washout of Palo Colorado Road at Rocky Creek in January 2017 was repaired by fall of 2018, with a much bigger and better-reinforced concrete culvert than before. “They just keep ignoring us.” celia jiménez nic coury