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The Most Visited State Park System in the Nation Is Remaking Itself and Wants Your Buy-In

By Alissa Greenberg, Bay Nature

On a Sunday afternoon in midwinter, tendrils of thin afternoon light drift through the branches of the oldest avocado tree in Santa Cruz County, illuminating a courtyard carpeted with deep green grass and framed by walls of centuries-old adobe. At a picnic table under the tree, Bella Kressman leads the Meuse family — 8-year-old Stella, 3-year-old Skyler and their parents, Eric and Sarah — through a traditional craft workshop.

They chat as they work. “Have you ever been to an event like this?” Kressman asks.

Eric says no; until today, he didn’t know the historic mission was here at all, though he and his family often camp at the many state parks around Santa Cruz. “Longtime listeners, first-time callers!” he jokes.

It would be easy to find versions of this scene in state parks all over California: community members enjoying well-preserved historical and natural spaces and engaging a little more richly with their world. But look closer and there’s an important difference. Once the family leaves, Kressman goes back into the park store to run the cash register. A sign over her shoulder reads, “Thanks — your purchase supports local state parks and beaches. Get a 15 percent discount by joining Friends today.”

Read the complete story at Bay Nature. 

Persistent Poison: A Solution Within Reach

By Angela Johnston & Marissa Ortega-Welch, KALW/Crosscurrents

In Alameda County, which has some of the highest lead levels in the country, an energetic public health nurse helps families after their child has been lead poisoned. But her work is a stopgap solution. What’s the answer to preventing leading poisoning before it starts?

In her job as a public health nurse, Diep Tran deals with the worst cases of lead poisoning in Alameda county. She has a lot of hard days, but today is a good day.

Read the complete story at KALW/Crosscurrents.

Persistent Poison: The Lead Data Gap

By Angela Johnston & Marissa Ortega-Welch, KALW/Crosscurrents

The numbers show the lead poisoning problem in the Bay Area is bad but is what we know just the tip of the iceberg?

Lead-poisoned kids make their way into the public health system if their doctors order blood tests.

These blood tests typically happen when kids are pretty scared of needles, around their first and second birthdays. Those are the most likely ages for exposure, when kids are crawling around on the floor, putting their hands in their mouths. If kids get lead poisoning at this young age, it’s dangerous for their future. Their brains aren’t fully developed yet.

Read the complete story at KALW/Crosscurrents.

Persistent Poison: Lead and the Bay Area Housing Crisis

By Angela Johnston & Marissa Ortega-Welch, KALW/Crosscurrents

We meet Souleika Dirieh and Tarek Cherif at the hummus factory they own in San Leandro. Their 3-year-old daughter Kawkeb loves playing outdoors. When we visit, she runs between empty food crates, deep in a game of hide-and-go-seek with her mom.

Inside the factory, the Cherifs and their employees make dozens of different types of hummus. Piles of ripped pita bread sizzle in the deep fryer before being sprinkled with spices, then packaged and shipped off to farmers markets around the Bay Area.

Read the complete story at KALW/Crosscurrents.

Persistent Poison: Living With Lead Poisoning

By Marissa Ortega-Welch and Angela Johnston, KALW/Crosscurrents

Public health nurse Diep Tran thought she would be out of her job by now. “Our plan was for lead poisoning to be gone, eradicated by 2010, and yet we are still getting too many cases,” she says.

This is the woman who manages all the severe lead poisoning cases for Alameda County. Diep is in her 60s, has a short bobbed haircut and a lot of energy. She works all the time. The first day we meet her, she barely sits down, constantly popping up to get something else that she wants to show us.

Read the complete story at KALW/Crosscurrents.

Here’s the Data Facebook Has on Users and How the Company Gathers It

By Sam Harnett, KQED News/The California Report

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in apology mode over how Facebook profile data was used in the 2016 election. Wednesday night on CNN, Zuckerberg said the company was not on top of data security like it should have been.

Here’s what happened. Facebook has tons and tons of apps on it made by third-party developers -- games, quizzes, etc. One of these third-party developers made a little personality quiz app. About 270,000 Facebook users took the quiz, and in doing so, allowed the app to download their personal data. This is common with third-party apps on Facebook. You check a box, they get your data. At the time, third-party apps could also access not only your data but also all your friends’ data. So, presto, the data collected by the maker of this little quiz quickly ballooned from 270,000 profiles to reportedly around 50 million.

Read the complete story at KQED News/The California Report.

California Tops in Suspension Reform, but Still not Properly Targeting Disparities: Report

By David Washburn, EdSource

California in recent years has arguably become the best state in the nation at holding school districts accountable for their suspension rates — but a number of districts are still lagging considerably when it comes to addressing suspension disparities among specific groups of students and supporting alternatives to traditional discipline, according to a new statewide report.

Thanks to the debut last year of the school accountability system known as the California School Dashboard, the state is one of just three nationwide to include suspension rates as a top indicator of overall school performance, and it sets the most stringent goals, asserts the report released Thursday by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nationwide crime prevention and youth advocacy organization.

Read the complete story at EdSource.

Climate's Day in Court: Maybe Not the Great Debate, But Still a 'Big Deal'

By Craig Miller, KQED News Fix

The spotlight will be on a San Francisco courtroom Wednesday, when climate science finally gets its day in court.

The cities of Oakland and San Francisco are suing several oil companies for the costs of adapting to climate change impacts, such as rising sea levels that threaten to flood critical infrastructure. Judge William Alsup has taken the unusual step of asking both sides to present their views on the state of climate science.

For more information on climate change, read Public Press special reports on sea level rise and cap and trade

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

Oakland Unified Initiative for African-American Girls Follows Years of Focus on the Boys

By Lee Romney, EdSource

Ever since the Oakland Unified School District launched its African-American Male Achievement office eight years ago people have been asking, “What about the girls?”

Among them were community leaders like Nzingha Dugas, who under contract to the district for many years ran academic enrichment programs and a basketball league that she says kept more than a few girls out of trouble — and in some cases out of the grasp of sex traffickers.

Read the complete story at EdSource. 

How California Went From Anti-Immigration to ‘Sanctuary State’

By Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED/CALmatters

Amparo Cid traces her work as an attorney helping recent immigrants and their families in the Central Valley fight injustices and potential deportation to her experience as a child in 1994.

That was when California voters passed Proposition 187, an initiative that denied undocumented immigrants access to publicly funded services. Back then, many California officials blamed the federal government for not doing more to keep people from crossing the border illegally.

Today, the roles are reversed.

Read the complete story at KQED/CALmatters.