THE TAM NEWS DECEMBER 2019
BABY MONITOR Breaking down the districtâ€™s parental leave policy and what it means for teachers. Pg. 11
CONTENTS DECEMBER 2019
News 04 Parks Conservancy begins Bothin Marsh restoration 05 New law pushes back California high school start times 06 Tam Valley haunted house likely to close Lifestyles 08 Review: Brrrrr Cryotherapy 09 Flea markets of the Bay Area 10 A day in Marin without power Features 11 Baby monitor
Opinion 18 Growing up with a single parent 19 Living with “deselixya” 20 Editorial: Disunity Sports 21 Testosterone testing in women’s sports 22 You’re out!
22 The Tam News, a student-run newspaper publication, distributed monthly, is an open, public forum for student expression and encourages letters and article contributions. The Tam News reserves the right to edit submissions for length and content. All content decisions are made by student editors. The Tam News is published monthly, though dates may vary. The Tam News is nonprofit and any proceeds and contributions are used in the production of the newspaper publication and for journalism education. Additional information concerning contributions or advertising can be obtained by writing to the address provided above or through our website. Copyright © 2019 by The Tam News. All rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited without written consent.
Volume XIV, No. III December 2019 A publication of Tamalpais High School Established 1919
Tamalpais High School 700 Miller Avenue Mill Valley, CA 94941 www.thetamnews.org
The design of the original cover of this magazine invoked racist stereotypes. Our full apology, which was published online on November 27, is reprinted below. We deeply apologize for the visual design of our most recent magazine. The cover of the December 2019 issue of The Tam News depicts a pregnant woman of color slouching in a chair. A thought bubble above the woman’s head contains the words “Mo’ Babies Mo’ Problems,” which Tam News editors chose as the title of the associated article. Taken together, the title and graphic reinforce harmful stereotypes about women of color and motherhood. Shortly into distribution of the magazine, we recalled as many copies as we could. All of these copies will be destroyed, and we have taken the article off our website. The associated article is about our school district’s maternity leave policy, and neither the story nor its writer had anything to do with the racist connotations of the cover. Those resulted from a number of choices that were clouded by privilege. We are doing our best to understand the irreparable pain that our hasty, thoughtless decision-making process caused. The title, intended to be a reference to the song “Mo Money Mo Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G., was instead a sorely inappropriate usage of vernacular. The skin color that editors chose for the woman on the cover reflects our misguided attempt to diversify representation in our content, even though the article does not actually feature any women of color. The title and visual design were created independently of each other, and the editors who saw the finished cover failed to recognize the hurtful message it conveyed. Lastly, we rushed the process to meet a deadline and did not provide our adviser and the majority of our editors the opportunity to review the magazine before it was sent to print. We did not create this cover with harmful intentions. But good intentions, far from excusing insensitivity, too frequently perpetuate it. The design is inexcusable. We are painfully aware that our decisions indicate a lack of critical thinking and awareness, and we are committed to preventing anything like this from ever happening again. We will install a more rigorous editorial policy, including having editors specifically review our content for cultural blind spots. We also are working to create a more thoughtful culture within The Tam News. A month ago, we began an internal process intended to identify and learn from bias in our staff and our work. That process will continue for the rest of the year. Our adviser has also been working with the district to ensure that future editors in chief attend the Beyond Diversity seminar, and to find a way to provide similar opportunities to our entire staff. Please consider sharing your thoughts on this issue by submitting a letter to the editor. We are committed to publishing personal narratives, opinions, and experiences that deal with racial inequity in our community. We cannot undo this mistake, but we will improve. We will work hard to create a more socially conscious environment, on our own and in collaboration with student organizations and members of our community. We hope that you will give us that chance. Leah Fullerton Kara Kneafsey Skye Schoenhoeft Josie Spiegelman Benjy Wall-Feng Editors in Chief
Editors in Chief Leah Fullerton • Kara Kneafsey Skye Schoenhoeft • Josie Spiegelman Benjy Wall-Feng News Jessica Bukowski • Logan Little Johanna Meezan • Samantha Nichols Ethan Swope Lifestyles Ian Duncanson • Chloe Gammon Emily Stull • Natalia Whitaker Features Tahlia Amanson • Claire Finch Mikyla Williams • Niulan Wright Opinion Claire Conger • Sophia Martin John Overton • Lucas Rosevear Tenaya Tremp Sports Paige Anderson • Eli Blum Jordan Cushner • Sam Jefferson Marco Steineke TBN Saranyu Nel Website Saranyu Nel Social Media Grace Gustafson • Quinn Rothwell Business Team Ian Duncanson • Lucas Rosevear Cover Skye Schoenhoeft Editorial Board Colin Bender • Claire Conger Ian Duncanson • Leah Fullerton Sam Glocker • Sam Jefferson Kara Kneafsey • Saranyu Nel Skye Schoenhoeft • Summer Solomon Josie Spiegelman • Benjy Wall-Feng Niulan Wright Adviser Jonah Steinhart Printer WIGT Printing Reporters (continued) Taylor Smith • Aryan Solanki Summer Solomon • Jackson Sperling Benjamin St. John • Catherine Stauffer Lukas Stoker • Pablo Stuart Steven Taitusi • Jessica Tempero Lauren Terry • Aleksander Teplitsky Tristan Tober • Ella Tollefson Aidan Toole • Iris Treharne-Jones Noel Urick • Mey Uysaloglu • Kaveh Vafaie Santiago Vera-Buoncristiani Elias Verdin • Daisy Wanger Katya Wasserman • Lassen Waugh Lily Wieland • Isabella Williams Carlos Wiltsee • Isabelle Winstead Hayden Yearout • Yasha Zink
Reporters Charles Abe • Cooper Alley Ava Amanson • Ruby Amezcua Charlotte Anderson • Mobeen Angalia Arkin Balain • James Ballschmider Dara Baradaran • Kaya Beasley Colin Bender • Saad Bham Benjamin Bogas • Dylan Boon Kayla Boon • Charles Boyle Alyssa Broad • Jamese Brown Jenna Bui • Nicole Caldwell Kimorion Calloway • Nyiera Campbell Federico Caruso • Daniel Casillas Carlos Castro Vonk • McKayla Cates Myles Cence • Hayden Chamberlain Reggie Chen • Andrew Cherner Jessica Clements • Jacob Cohen Alana Concannon • Edward Cooper Joseph Cooper • Gina Criollo Rory Cronander • Lawrence Dahms Richard Damico • Isis Delorenzo Zetana Demmerle • Gabriella Diecks Daniel DiPierro • Kavi Dolasia Alanna Donaldson • Avery Emison Kennedy Enlowsmith • Isabella Faillace Luke Ferris • Jack Fierstein • Jack Finn Eloise Flad • Tessa Flynn • Max Franck Sebastian Ghosh • David Gilmore Benjamin Ginnebaugh • Stephania Glass Sam Glocker • Joseph Glynn Talina Gonzalez-Alvarado Olivia Gould • Sebastian Graham Ronan Grele • Zev Grossman Cesar Guedez Oberto • Grace Gustafson Riley Hardiman • Serena Hariri Sophia Harkins • Taylor Hill Colin Ingoldsby • Kyle Johnson Eva Jossart Quesada • Keenan Karcs Theodore Koffman • Liza Lachter Isabella Larson • Maja Layden Phoebe Leisek • Lexa Lemberg Felicie Lemee • Naomi Lenchner Elan Levine • Ezra Levy • Chadson Lui Daniel Lund • Lily Lunn Zaahirah Majid • Francesca Malek Joshua Markowitz-Meeker Mariana Marquez Carrillo Akira Martha • Zelie Martin Sofia Matarrita • Marin Mattesi Amaari McCoy • Ezra McKinley Maya Meckley • Jake Mclaughlin Emily Mercy • Christine Moreno Max Moreno • Gabriella Mormorunni Christopher Newell • Aeneas Nicholas Barrett Nichols • Oona O’Neill Isabella Oldenburg • Athos Oliveira Katharine Owen • Bradley Page-Harris Sydney Parks • Kobie Pearson Cal Petersen • Luca Petrella Anna Plante • Jack Polakis Preston Radcliffe • Luke Rasake TaNaejah Reed • Tristan Regenold Nathan Robinson • Chloe Rodriguez Ethan Rosegard • Paul Rosenthal Dillan Ross • Quinn Rothwell Cassandra Ruark • Meya Saenz Zagar Dayanna Salas • Amelia Sandgren Kendall Scanlan • Emily Schauer William Schreiber • Tessa Schumacher Camille Shakirova • Carmen Shavers Foxy Shazam • Marcis Shelton Samuel Sheykhet • Caroline Shinner Nicholas Silva • Garnett Silver-Hall Cade Slijepcevich • Hugo Slothower
Parks Conservancy begins Bothin Marsh restoration By Claire Conger
A pole in the Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve showing projected sea level rise by designated years. PHOTO BY JOHANNA MEEZAN
he Marin County Parks and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy began the Bothin Marsh Restoration project this year to defend against rising sea levels in Richardson Bay. Extending 106 acres, the Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve in Mill Valley is expected to see 10 inches of sea level rise in the next 10 years, a measurement that would result in a regular flooding of 90 percent of Bothin’s wetlands, according to the Evolving Shorelines vision, an overview created by One Tam, a collective conservancy of the local parks services and con-
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servancies. The restoration project plans to strengthen the natural tidal marsh processes to accommodate up to three feet of sea level rise, and is planned to be implemented in five years. In the beginning stages of the project, in-depth scientific research on the Richardson Bay’s tidal marshes was conducted to anticipate the effects of sea level rise and potential renovations on Bothin Marsh, according to project manager Rob LaPorte. The project was funded by the Marin County quarter cent sales tax Measure A, which supports parks, open space, and agricultural lands across Marin. “Existing sea levels are threatening the preserve’s shoreline habitats and their ability to support abundant native wildlife, including
special-status species, migratory birds, and rare plant species,” LaPorte said. “In addition, existing public active transportation and recreational access to and through the Preserve is severely threatened by sea level rise. The Mill Valley-Sausalito Pathway is a critical link in the San Francisco Bay Trail and regularly floods at the Preserve over 30 times each year.” Bothin Marsh Restoration is currently in the design phase and will begin conceptual design this fall. Marin County Parks and Parks Conservancy are working with wetland ecologists, landscape architects, and coastal engineers to design and develop a plan for enhancing the marsh in order to mitigate sea level rise– induced flooding. The proj-
ect was recently awarded a grant from the State Coastal Conservancy and the Marin Community Foundation to complete this phase. Once all of the potential solutions and challenges for the marsh and multi-use path are understood, the community will be presented with these ideas. On October 17, One Tam held an informational community event to present the Bothin Marsh Restoration project. “I sincerely believe that the next generation is crucial to the Project’s success and for coming up with creative solutions to the challenges of climate change and sea level rise,” LaPorte said. “It is key to continue spreading the word to [others] about the importance of climate change mitigation.”♦
New law pushes back California high school start times By Tenaya Tremp with additional reporting by Saranyu Nel
overnor Gavin Newsom signed a bill on October 13 that requires most middle and high schools to push back their start times by the start of the 2022 school year. Under the new law, SB328, middle schools must begin no earlier than 8:00 a.m., and high schools can start no earlier than 8:30 a.m, excluding zero periods. School districts that are dependent on buses or are “rural school districts” are exempt from the mandate, although the bill did not define what exactly qualified as rural. California is the first state to enact legislation regulating school start times. The bill was motivated by research that shows that a teenager’s circadian rhythm clashes with early start times. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adolescents experience a backward shift in biological alertness of up to two hours, resulting in them waking
PHOTO BY ETHAN SWOPE
up and going to sleep later. 62 percent of high schoolers get insufficient amounts of sleep, classified as less than eight hours on school nights. “A lot of mental health challenges, not all, but a lot could be resolved if we attended to [allowing teenagers to sleep],” district Wellness Coordinator Yvonne Milhan said. During the 2018 school year, a committee of students, parents, and administrators attempted to push back the district’s start time to 8:30 a.m., but the effort failed when the proposed schedules were not submitted by the May 2018 deadline. The Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) board of trustees opposed the mandate while the bill was going through the legislature. “Changing the start times of our high schools has implications for local transit as well as after school
co-curricular activities,” district superintendent Tara Taupier told the Marin IJ in July. “We feel that allowing each locally elected governing board to make these decisions makes the most sense as they have the relevant information.” It is unclear how or if Tam will alter its schedule before 2022 in preparation for the law to go into effect. However, according to principal J.C. Farr, by March 2020 “a number of steps that will be taken to try to move forward as much as we can, with no promises ... Shortly I will be sending out surveys to families to get some data points that then the [bell] committee will look at.” In California, high schools are mandated to have at minimum 64,800 instructional minutes per year, whereas grades four through eight must have a minimum of 54,000. By pushing back start times, 150 minutes are lost per week and need to be reformatted in the schedule.
At the moment, Farr said, he is considering changing block periods or removing tutorial. Tam’s new start time may result in scheduling changes for Mill Valley Middle School as well to minimize traffic in the morning. “We need to work with the Mill Valley School District because they have a little more flexibility than the high school has … they could conceivably start their days later or earlier so that we are [being smart] about the flow of traffic,” Farr said. Farr plans to work with the community to accommodate its needs. “The challenge is that there’s so many interests represented and so many different constraints that you’re trying to find a very narrow path to a bell schedule,” he said. “There will be opportunities to provide input on potential changes ... I’m open to whatever will work for us as a school.”♦ PHOTO BY SARANYU NEL
Tam Valley haunted house likely to close By Samantha Nichols
he Tamalpais Community Services District (TCSD) held what may have been its final haunted house at the Tam Valley Community Center from October 25 to 27. This year over 1,500 community members attended the event, which was put on by 120 volunteers. “It just gets you in the Halloween spirit,” freshman Emma Korelev, who has been a volunteer at the haunted house for five years, said. “I hope that they continue it somehow.” The 2019 haunted house was monster-themed, and
included a swamp illusion, a spinning vortex, a werewolf who shook a bridge that participants were standing on, and a dark room with green polka dots and monsters hiding in the shadows. “I was scared out of my mind … I would close my eyes sometimes when I would get too scared,” junior Genevive Durham said. The three creators of the event, Carol Buchholz, Greg LeMoi, and Jeff Brown, are all parting ways and will not be able to manage the haunted house in the future. Buchholz, who has been
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the TCSD Parks and Recreation director since 2004 and organizes the annual haunted house, is planning to retire next summer. Brown will not continue with the event partly due to his age and mobility. “I’m just getting a little too old. It’s a lot of work. We’re here for 10, 12, 14 hours a day for two weeks straight ... when you’re 62 years old it gets to be a little hard,” Brown said. LeMoi recently moved to Petaluma and will not be able to commute to the community center to help
set up and run the event. “So between the three of us all ready to stop, it’s time,” Buchholz said. Recreation Supervisor Lara Zegart is being trained by Buchholz to take over her position as Parks and Recreation Director. However, it is unclear whether Zegart will continue the haunted house. “If things were exactly the way they were and only [Buchholz] was leaving then I would say yes, I would absolutely hold this event again, but there’s more factors than that at the moment,” Zegart said.
Senior Casey Walls professionally signs with soccer team San Jose Earthquakes
Parks and Recreation director Carol Buchholz leads a tour through Tam Valley’s haunted house. The annual haunted house began in 2008, when LeMoi, then a Tam Valley resident, suggested the idea to Buchholz. “I had just moved here, walked over to the rec center and said, ‘Hey Carol, you want to do a haunted
house?’” LeMoi said. Two years later, haunted house construction specialist Brown joined the team, and the three of them have run the event ever since. “I love just seeing the smiles on people’s faces ... and just knowing that some-
Proposed Additional TUHSD parcel tax receives Backlash
thing we’ve created brings joy to people, and the sense of community too,” Brown said. Although the future of the haunted house is unknown, Buchholz and Zegart are hopeful this will not be the last event of its kind in
Mill Valley council to ban flavored tobacco products
the Tam community. “[Zegart] is full of ideas and she is very creative. I have no doubt that there will be something magical next Halloween,” Buchholz said. ♦ PHOTOS COURTESY OF STEFANIE SCHWARTZ
District presents youth vaping prevention update DECEMBER 2019
GRAPHICS BY ISABELLA FAILLACE
Review: By Jessica Bukowski
hat remedy comes to mind when you think of sore muscles? Odds are it’s something along the lines of stretching, drinking water, or simply waiting it out. What if there was some sort of treatment that claimed to not only relieve sore muscles, but boost metabolism, decrease migraines, and tame anxiety, along with a flurry of other benefits? That’s where cryotherapy comes into play. The trendy experience consists of standing in a small chamber with barely any clothes on, while freezing (yes, literally freezing) air blows on you. The chamber reaches anywhere from −148° F to −220° F, and participants usually face the cold for two to four minutes at a time. In recent years, cryotherapy has been rising in popularity, as professional athletes and celebrities have incorporated it into their lives. The treatment has been embraced by Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston, and Lebron James, just to name a few. Skeptical of whether this bizarre healing method actually lives up to everything it claims to be, I headed over to Brrrrr Cryotherapy in San Rafael to see for myself. Upon entering the building, the name of the company and the decorative snowflakes on the walls made it clear that I came there to be cold. There were multiple treatment options, including the whole body treatment, facial, or spot treatment. I chose the whole
body experience, as it was the only one involving the chamber. Because it was my first time, it cost $35 rather than the usual $55 single session. After filling out some paperwork, I was led to the back room, where I saw the chamber for the first time. The contraption was black and hexagon-shaped, with two metal stairs leading up to it. To me, the most surprising part was the gigantic silver tank of liquid nitrogen that sat next to the chamber, which I later learned weighed a whopping 600 pounds. In the minutes leading up to the session, I was instructed to change into the proper cryotherapy attire: a robe, which would later be taken off, knee-high socks, cotton gloves, and thick, Croc-like shoes. The outfit was ugly by all standards, but I wasn’t there for a fashion show. I chose to keep on underwear, but it is entirely optional. I then watched as the chamber cooled down, and the liquid nitrogen began to spill out of the top. The instructor told me to keep my movements minimal in order to avoid heavy breathing that would result in unnecessary inhalation of the gas. Then, before I could begin to second-guess myself, I was ushered into the machine, disrobed, and experiencing the freezing air. As soon as my body slightly adjusted to the tem-
8 TheREBECCA Tam news PREIS PHOTO BY POSTER COURTESY OF JOSIE SPEIGELMAN
perature, it would be lowered again, which was met by slight discomfort and more shaking. It definitely helped to breathe in room temperature air, as my head was above the chamber, out of the cold. The targeted time for my session was three minutes. However, everyone tolerates low temperatures differently, so I was given the option to cut the time short at any time if I desired. Some experienced people may even expand the time to four minutes. During the session, it felt as though I had voluntarily signed up to be tortured, and I didn’t know why Jennifer Aniston liked it so much. By the two-minute mark, I began to feel a slight burning sensation. Although my entire body was not in its ideal state, I definitely felt the majority of the discomfort in my legs, which is apparently common for women. By the time there were only 15 seconds left in the three-minute session, the burning escalated, and my legs tingled similarly to the pins-and-needles feeling you get when your feet lose circulation. I definitely could not have lasted much longer than three minutes, for I think the burning sensation would have been too much to handle. When the session ended, I was more relieved than anything, as I tried to hob-
ble my numb legs out of the chamber. Although the feeling is supposed to disappear as soon as you exit the chamber, it lingered for at least an hour after, which I wasn’t a fan of. One thing I will say, though, is that I did experience a natural high of sorts after leaving the cold, which catapulted me out of the usual post-lunch slump. Other than that, I didn’t experience any of the other alleged benefits of cryotherapy, possibly because it was only my first session. It is also possible that the treatment is not deserving of high praise, but I couldn’t be sure. Cryotherapy was an interesting experience, and it’s worth a try if you have sore muscles or any sort of pain that it might be able to alleviate. I wouldn’t call the experience enjoyable by any means but could see where there would be benefits to people who participate with a set intent. However, if you are like me and simply wish to emulate the extravagant lives of the rich and famous, there are far more enjoyable ways of spending your money. Instead, I would urge you to get an expensive facial or buy an overpriced pair of leggings, because something about freezing while wearing Crocs and little else just doesn’t scream luxury.♦
PHOTO BY REBECCA PREIS / POSTER COURTESY OF JOSIE SPIEGELMAN
Flea markets of the Bay Area F
lea markets bring light to the saying “One man’s trash is another’s treasure.” The events attract individual vendors who offer antiques, collectibles, and previously used items.Many vendors also have a plethora of new merchandise for sale as well. These events can bring in hundreds to tens of thousands of people selling or sifting through all kinds of goods as well as food and entertainment. Flea markets today offer just about anything you can think of, from everyday merchandise like food, household items, clothing, and accessories, to more unusual fare such as antique collectibles, art, and hand-carved furniture. The following are the best flea markets close to Marin County:
The Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Fair offers all kinds of vintage goods, from antiques to clothing to hand-carved furniture. The market brings over 800 dealers, 10,000 shoppers, and food vendors together on the first Sunday of every month. While most flea market attendees look for treasures at low prices, this event is not known for its deals. However, vendors offer incredible, unique items. Many booths specialize in collectibles from vinyl records to rare items like 19th-century doll vanity sets. The grounds look out on the bay and the
By Daisy Wanger
San Francisco skyline. Furthermore, free parking and shuttle service is a great bonus that makes the 40-minute drive from Tam more reasonable. Tickets are available on site for $15 from 6 to 7:30 a.m., $10 from 7:30 to 9 a.m., and $5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
goods. Inexpensive items from different cultures all over the world can be found here. The location makes for a convenient hour-and-a-half Bart ride or 40-minute drive. It takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Treasure Island Flea is the Bay Area’s largest monthly gathering of makers, indie designers, artists, vintage curators, and antique collectors. It takes place on the last Sunday of every month. It is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an admission fee of $3 if paid online, or $7 if at the gate. It has a mix of old and new, as varying vendors bring in vintage or antique items while other vendors sell new indie goods. Despite the hour-long drive from Tam, the atmosphere of people of all ages enjoying the many services and beautiful backdrop of the city skyline and Marin is well worth the trek. The event also offers local music, gourmet food, and drinks.
The Alemany Flea Market specializes in goods over 20 years old, as the sale of items any newer is prohibited. Special pieces in fashion, vinyl, jewelry, and furniture are what attendees come for. While the event lacks scenic views, the collectibles make up for it. It is 40 minutes from Tam and is very close to many restaurants and shops around the Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods of San Francisco. It takes place in Bernal Heights every Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with free admission.
The Berkeley Flea Market takes place in the heart of South Berkeley at the Ashby Bart Station. The event specializes in reggae paraphernalia, but also includes booths selling fresh fruit, incense, food, and household
Rather than buying an international plane ticket or visiting a museum, one can have similar experiences of different cultures and eras just by taking a drive to one of the many local flea markets the Bay Area has to offer. Souvenirs are also much more reasonably priced and vendors are to be bargained with.♦
GRAPHICS BY ISABELLA FAILLACE
A Day in Marin Without Power By Katya Wasserman
he power outage that lasted a week left Marin in a state of disorder. On Saturday, October 26, an email was sent to all of Marin County, saying that PG&E was going to shut all power down at 4 p.m. that day, to prevent fires from potentially faulty outdated transmission lines, and that we should prepare for any and all power to remain off until at least Monday morning. This sent Marin and all of its overindulged and materialistic residents into a frenzy. Sitting through an ACT test until approximately 1:30 p.m. and walking out to a stream of emails, texts, Snapchats, and Next-
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door’s calamitous and relentless posts was not my happiest moment. As the day went on, there were only more public warnings and email blasts, and even more dramatized and embroidered speculations from my friends who were overjoyed at the thought of school getting cancelled. A time of great crisis calls for some good food. My dad and I sat down to eat at Lotus: Cuisine of India in San Rafael. Inside, Marin moms gossiped about the impending power outage as if it was the most distressing news anyone could’ve told them. Contrastingly, my dad and I were laughing at this crazy situation, mocking this “state of emergency” reaction. The emergency alert sounded when I was heaving a scoop of saag paneer onto my plate. The loud alert lit up the room, jogging a memory of the obnoxious sound of the commencement of the purge. Purge or not, the restaurant was buzzing with hysteric and disgruntled parents alike, perturbed about what this would mean for their groceries and hot baths at home. Teens and pre-teens cursed their lord and savior for taking TikTok’s “For You” page away from them, enraged of the idea of having to live without any kind of stimuli for the next few days. I looked at my phone longingly, knowing that this power outage would limit my phone time immensely and I really wasn’t psyched. On the way home, we
drove past the Chevron gas station on Blithedale Avenue and and saw the masses of people lined up. Irritable and hazardous drivers were honking and yelling at one another, forging a chaotic scene. Both CVS and Rite Aid were out of ice, and the multitude of people running in and out of Whole Foods had a striking resemblance to those in the movie Bird Box, which was its own nail-biting and exaggerated ordeal. I was feeling quite unconcerned with the whole thing, except my phone battery was at a discouragingly low 11 percent. I told myself I would watch TV until the very last second before lighting some candles around my room and cozying up with a book I hadn’t opened in months. Everything would be just fine. When the power actually went out, closer to 6 p.m., and I realized I didn’t have any internet service at my house, I found myself revoking the simplistic, media-free lifestyle I had come to terms with, and musing in the paradox of PG&E shutting down the power to prevent fires, leaving all of Marin to rely on candles, a much more conspicuous fire hazard, to light up their homes. The night slipped away, and I went to bed at 8:30, attempting to catch up on my hundreds of hours of missed sleep. The next day I woke up and left my house in search of cell service. I made plans to go into the city and immerse myself into what felt like distant civilization, at least compared to the ghost town that was Mill Valley. All the lights that usually lit up the downtown Mill Valley area and perpetually winding roads were all out, leaving a foreboding
GRAPHICS BY ISABELLA FAILLACE
and eerie feeling to our normally brightly lit town. We were bumper to bumper in stopped traffic right after exiting the Golden Gate Bridge when the car indicated that there were 20 miles left in the tank. About 25 minutes later, my friend Chloe and I finally pulled into the line for one of the only gas stations that was in service, after passing at least four that were wrapped in yellow caution tape. San Francisco was packed with people, and high schoolers were flocking in search of a wifi sanctuary to work on college applications with early action and early decision deadlines only days away. Within two days of the power outage, the city was ransacked. Marin had exhausted nearly all of the city’s resources like ice, flashlights, and gas, which was alarming. And the traffic only got worse throughout the week. It really was like an apocalypse, minus the dead people. Since the day in Lotus, it had become easier and easier to loosen the grasp I had on my phone. I found myself becoming more and more aware of just how many hours I was logging on a screen and how much of the day was taken up by meaningless roaming and scrolling through social media. Even after the emails that there would be no power or school — which by then I had come to miss — until Thursday, I was seemingly more captivated by my surroundings and found a sort of tranquility and peace with the quiet. I understood the privilege we have of living where we do, while observing how we as a society have such a profound reliance on electricity, wifi, and hot water to keep our homes and our lives up to standard.♦
BABY MONITOR By Emily Stull Graphics by Skye Schoenhoeft
nglish teacher Abbey Levine sits on the floor of her classroom, rolling up large-scale, multicolored posters. Across the paper, words of Tam spirit are scrawled in big red and blue letters, courtesy of Link Crew. She smiles and slowly shifts her weight to stand while continuing to organize the posters. Levine is 25 weeks pregnant with her third child. Frustration lingers behind her voice when she speaks. The pace of her words becoming more rapid with every sentence. Sheâ€™s anticipating maternity leave. It has been problematic in the past, both a confusing and financial burden. DECEMBER 2019
ecause of the pay gap between maternity and paternity leave, said Levine, it is almost definite the woman will be the one to take the most time off. “I have a three-yearold and a five-year-old. If they see me home with the baby and dad going to work it would send a different message [than] if my husband was the one to take time off and stay home with the baby. It establishes what roles both parents play when raising a child,” Levine said. In countries around the world, women are not faced with the same policies that are in the U.S. In Finland, expecting mothers receive 23 fully paid weeks of leave, and fathers receive eight. In Denmark, mothers receive a total of 52 full paid weeks of leave, 32 of which can be shared with her partner. Out of 196 countries, America is one of four that has no federally mandated policy to give new parents any paid maternity or paternity leave. The only federal law in place is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees mothers 12 weeks of unpaid leave, along with job security and healthcare for that period. English teacher Amanda Spaht, who took maternity leave in 2018, believes that new parents nationwide should receive one year of fully paid maternity or paternity leave, which would “follow in the footsteps of other first world countries. Because as far as I’m concerned, we’re pretty behind those other countries.” The Tamalpais Unified High School District’s (TUHSD) contract posted on the district website states that its policy “will
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If it really is the case that the district sometimes makes money off the sub stitute replac ing the moth er, then that’s horrendous. We need more consistency with the sub stitutes who are looking after the stu dents.
be in compliance with the State Family Care and Medical Leave Act,” which is the FMLA, along with California’s law. The district does not provide additional requirements than what is required by state and federal laws are provided. Before a new mother’s leave period begins, she is required by the district and state to utilize all of her sick days. The district allots new mothers something called Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) for the first part of her maternity leave. PDL can last up to 12 weeks, as determined by the mother’s physician. Throughout this time period, the mother receives differential pay. Differential pay means that the mother takes a pay cut equal to the substitute’s salary. This amount is considered the B-1 rate in the district, and is about $339.20 per day. The B-1 rate was agreed to in the district’s memorandum in the teacher contract, although it is unclear whether or not that memorandum was renewed. The available copy online states that it had expired in 2012, and Christensen reported that it had been renewed. However, he did not provide evidence to support this claim. A teacher in their third year of working in the district makes around $377.15 pretax per day. If a new mother in this category takes leave, she will make $37.95 per day during the PDL period. A mother on leave in her second year working for the district would make about $19 a day. First year, a mother would be paid nothing during her disability leave period. Substitute teachers can be paid different rates, how-
FEATURES ever, which poses a complicated financial situation for the district. If the long-term substitute is a teacher in the district, or a former district teacher, they will be given their typical pay. The mother will still have the B-1 rate taken out of her paycheck, but the district pays for the difference between the substitute’s salary and the B-1 rate. “It runs both ways to keep it even. If a teacher gets more money, they’ll get what they deserve,” said Lars Christensen, who works for Human Resources in the district and negotiates on behalf of the TUHSD board of trustees. If the substitute is what is called an emergency substitute, which is the kind that stepped in for Spaht, they are paid less than the B-1 rate. Because the new mother will still receive their pay minus the B-1 rate, and the substitute is compensated less than that, the district saves money in these situations. Laura Keaton, the administrative assistant to principal J.C. Farr, explained that the majority of long-term substitutes are paid the B-1 rate. It is very rare for the district to hire a substitute who makes more than that. Keaton further explained that although emergency substitutes, like Spaht’s replacement, are also uncommon, they are more frequent than the costly ones. “If it really is the case that the district sometimes makes money off the substitute replacing the mother, then that’s horrendous. We need more consistency with the substitutes who are looking after the students,” special education teacher and wrestling coach Pres-
a new mother takes the maternity leave offered by the district, she receives differential pay: her normal salary minus the typical salary of the long-term substitute who will replace her. Because the substitute rate, called the B-1 rate, is the same as the starting rate for teachers, new teachers who take maternity leave will be paid nothing. GRAPHS BY BENJY WALL-FENG
ton Picus said. Following the disability leave, a mother goes on Parental Bonding Leave (PBL), as described by a state law that was updated in January 2019. Before January, mothers were granted differential pay of their salary minus the substitute’s rate for a period of 60 workdays, which is typically 12 weeks. Now, the mother receives 50 percent of her salary during this time. California does have an opportunity for teachers to
receive more money during their leave, an option referred to as Paid Family Leave (PFL). The state provides benefits of 60 to 70 percent, depending on income, of a new mother’s wages for up to six weeks. Mothers need to apply to be granted PFL, and one of the qualifications is that the mother will lose money during her maternity leave. This act is currently not mentioned in the district’s contract, and Christensen does not know if teachers
have taken PFL in the past. He said he was unfamiliar with the option as a whole, despite having heard about it before. Christensen said, “I don’t have an answer. But that would be between the teacher. I would need to read that, but it’s not something we’ve had in our contract ever. I’d like to make a copy of that though.” He added that teachers may not know about PFL because it has never been part of the district’s “practices.”
District staff who take maternity leave first take the Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) offered by the district, which lasts for up to 12 weeks as determined by the mother’s physician. After that, the mother may take the Parental Bonding Leave (PBL) offered by the state for up to 60 workdays. The teacher in this graph has worked in the district for three years.
On October 13, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 500, which would have required school districts, charter schools, and community colleges to grant new mothers fully paid maternity leave for at least six weeks. Currently, if teachers would like greater benefits in any areas determined by the contract, they are required to speak to their union representative and have them bring it up in negotiations with the board. The vetoed state law would have removed that obstacle specifically for maternity leave. Newsom explained in his veto statement, “Providing every Californian worker with paid family leave is a noble goal and a priority for my administration. However, this bill will likely result in annual costs of tens of millions of dollars that should
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be considered as part of local collective bargaining.” A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017. “The fact that this law reached the desk of another governor is [a] sign that this needs to be recognized as a priority,” Levine said. Moreover, she said, the act had the potential to encourage other states to follow suit. “People don’t think change can be made unless someone else does it first. We’ve been looking at other countries as an example, but we need one of our own states to step up,” Levine said. Despite the recent statewide setback, some public school districts in the Bay Area have taken leave benefits to the next level before the updated Parental Bonding Leave state law was an-
nounced in January. The San Francisco Unified School District’s Summary of Benefits provides 100 days, or around 20 weeks of maternity leave at regular pay, minus the daily cost of a long-term substitute teacher. Substitutes’ salaries in San Francisco are less than in the TUHSD, so mothers in that district are typically paid more during their leave. Similar to the TUHSD, a mother or father teaching in SF Unified is required to use all their sick days before their parental leave starts. However, unlike the TUHSD, San Francisco’s district has
always offered paid paternity leave. As of now, Tam’s paternity leave policy is complex, and district officials have expressed uncertainty over the details. In the past, the leave provided to fathers required them to use all of their accumulated sick days before going on 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In the current contract, there is no mention of paid leave for fathers. Looking at the laws in place today, there are no regulations that require any type of paid leave for males in California or nationwide. However, like mothers, fathers can apply for state-provided Paid Family Leave — although, as stated before, the district’s contract does not mention this option. Although this is a beneficial option for mothers and fathers across the state,
FEATURES they are still required to use their accumulated sick days. This is a common aspect of leave throughout the public sectors across the U.S. “I wish that we had the option to not use up our sick leave,” science teacher Grace Backer said. Backer took her maternity leave in early 2019. “I had saved up all these days over the years by not taking sick days unless I was really, really sick. Instead of having 40, now I have 10. And new moms and babies get sick easily and often,” she said. The majority of people taking parental leave in the private sector do not give up their personal days. This difference in benefits of parental leave widens the overall financial divide between the workers in the public and private sectors. In the private sector in the Bay Area, Facebook employees receive 16 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave, while Twitter employees receive 20. Salesforce allots the primary caregiver 26 weeks of full pay, and the secondary caregiver 12. But these benefits have yet to reach the public sector. “It shouldn’t matter that you happen to work in a particular industry or not. That doesn’t make you or your family any more valuable than somebody who works in a different industry. And your time with your children isn’t any more valuable just because you hold a certain position,” Spaht said. Furthermore, the private sectors demonstrate significantly more generous paternity plans than the public sector. Researchers have shown that this is not only beneficial to the fathers, but to the mothers in the long run.
People don’t think change can be made unless some one else does it first. We’ve been looking at other coun tries as an ex ample, but we need one of our own states to step up.
A recent study by Harvard found that the more parental leave the father has available, the more likely it is for the mother to come back to work full time rather than returning part time. “I was prepared to use my hours from my [sick days] for the few days I was out. I didn’t necessarily love that I had to use these hours as I believe [fully paid] paternity, and more importantly, maternity leave should be offered within the district,” social studies teacher and new father Tim Morgan said. Morgan took his unpaid leave before the law was updated. “I was actually surprised to find out that the district [did] not have full paid maternity or paternity leave. I do not know all the details on the why but I’m sure the district has their reasons. The first few months with a newborn are so important to be home with the family, as it is an amazing, yet sometimes difficult time,” Morgan said. In response to teachers feeling as though they are not given what they deserve, Christensen said, “They’re getting what the teachers association and the district has agreed to give them. We’re certainly complying with federal and state law. We’re not keeping something from them. They’re getting what they’re entitled to. Some want more, and that’s OK.” Social studies teacher Sharilyn Scharf, a negotiator on the teachers union, said that the final decision does indeed come down to the numbers. She explained that in situations like last year, when a districtwide financial crisis prompted the
FEATURES board to lay off teachers and negotiate a rollback of medical benefits, “trying to add something [to the budget] when everybody is going to be losing something is just going to be impossible.” Teacher union president Ann Jaime, who was at the latest negotiation meeting with the board, said she was unable to comment on this issue. “[Maternity leave] is one of the topics that is a part of contract negotiations for this year. Contract negotiations are completely confidential until the union and the district have reached an agreement,” Jaime said. Christensen explained that there is a new contract in the works, to be released following the negotiations on December 3 and January 17. “What we’re trying to do with the new contract language — and I can’t talk about specifics because negotiations are privileged information until it’s printed for the public — is push away the fog and make it clear. But what we’re not gonna do in a contract is that we’re not going to fill the contract up with state regulations and government codes,” Christensen said. The contract will provide references to state and federal laws,
The idea of provid ing equity for issues like mater nity leave is so central to who we are as a district that it’s sur prising that even though teachers have want ed this for so long it hasn’t existed.
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but will not specifically outline the teachers’ rights that come with them. Until the new contract has been written and agreed upon, a teacher going on maternity or paternity leave will “receive benefits per the contract and per state and federal law. We’re not denying anybody rights for maternity leave or benefits by any stretch,” Christensen said. When considering this aspect, many teachers believe that just because it is the law does not mean it is morally correct. Christensen added that, at this point, “the Teachers Association has not presented a formal proposal for changes to our existing leave policy.” In other words, the teachers union has not yet offered a solution. “If select teachers feel that the leave package isn’t what they’d like it to be, they need to be speaking to their representatives,” Christensen said. According to Picus, parental leave has been an ongoing issue for some time, and whether it is part of the discussion has to do with the priorities of the union and the way it negotiates with the school board. Picus and Levine both said the representatives of the teachers union within the past two years have pledged to prioritize
FEATURES maternity and paternity leave, but the policy has not changed beyond the update to state law. “I’ve never seen a public declaration about this issue. But I know there are many people who hope it should be a forefront [for negotiation],” Levine said. The majority of teachers have advocated for full paid maternity leave, alongside an improved paternity leave system. “I hope that our district considers adding fully paid maternity and paternity. I know that a lot of teachers would agree with that hope,” Morgan said. When the district is “more financially flush,” Scharf said that she would like to offer leave benefits to newborn parents that match San Francisco Unified’s 100 days of leave. On the other hand, Christensen pointed out that although San Francisco’s leave benefits may be “more robust,” the teachers there receive fewer medical benefits overall, and are paid less than those in the TUHSD. “It’s a tradeoff. It’s all negotiated between the teachers. And it’s not always incumbent on the district to say we’re gonna give give give, that’s negotiated settlement. So if teachers want better leave benefits in general, they can negotiate that,” he said. Members of the school district, such as superintendent Tara Taupier, believe that “the [parental] leave is supportive of new parents and is, from my understanding, more than many other districts do. As with anything, these issues are negotiated with our union and due to that, I am not going
to make any further comment.” However, many teachers, such as Spaht and Levine, argue that the leave policy is, in fact, not very supportive. In the background of the parental leave debate is a proposed parcel tax, which, if passed next March, could pour an additional $6 million into the district and remove the risk of further debt in the near future. Moreover, it could potentially create a cleaner path for Scharf and the other negotiators to move forward with negotiations. As Christensen said, if the parcel tax passes, “then there will be money for negotiation. That’s up to the teachers association to bring forward a proposal.” Like many staff members in the district, he is hopeful the parcel tax will be placed on the ballot and passed. “Although until that point, why ask when you know what the answer is going to be?” Scharf said. District staff get paid on a scale based on how long they have been working, and must work 75 percent of the year to qualify for the next salary level. However, sick days can count toward completing work for this percentage of the year. But the only way for a mother to achieve the amount of days required is if she has saved up enough sick days to qualify. In order to do this, she would need to save all of her sick days from the past few years leading up to her pregnancy, which means that the district’s system effectively prevents new mothers from receiving higher salaries. “I didn’t get to move up
Forcing a mom back to work before three months is what I think is inhumane.
this year, so it’s as if I didn’t teach last year. If I’d come back for two weeks I would have made a lot more money this year,” Backer said. Picus, who is Levine’s husband, has advocated for improved maternity leave for over two years. “Women should get three months [fully paid leave] minimum. Forcing a mom back to work before three months is what I think is inhumane,” he said. Picus explained that according to his calculations, it would be “relatively inexpensive to offer all women three months of paid leave.” In 2018, he drafted an email outlining his proposal to district staff and the board. “Three months of paid leave for a teacher who is having a baby seems to me a very standard offering that the district could burden,” Picus wrote in the email, which ended up unsent. “I’m not exactly sure of the number of teachers who have children each year ... If we say that there are 15 each year, and they each are allowed three months of paid leave, the total cost to
the district would be about $315,000. That number could be significantly lower, as the district might be able to hire a substitute at a rate which is less than the B-1 rate which the teacher is currently charged.” In regards to Picus’ argument, Scharf said that while maternity leave is not a huge expense, “it is a significant ongoing expense that they would have to budget for. And if they’re going to pay for that, something else is going to have to go.” Parental leave is a complex issue, and a hot-button one at that. It doesn’t seem to have a resolution in the near future. “Our district is very progressive in terms of the ideas we teach our students. The fact that we discuss civil rights the way that we do and women’s rights the way that we do ... demonstrates this,” Levine said. “The idea of providing equity for issues like maternity leave is so central to who we are as a district that it’s surprising that even though teachers have wanted this for so long it hasn’t existed.”
GROWING UP WITH A SINGLE PARENT By Logan Little
n first grade, a bit before Father’s Day, my six-yearold peers and I were told to write a letter thanking our dads for being there for us. This presented a problem: I didn’t have one. So I raised my hand and, announcing that fact to the entire class, asked my teacher what I should do. Immediately the classroom went quiet and she pulled me aside. I assumed I had said something really wrong. But instead of scolding me, my teacher gave me a hug and told me to write to any family member I wanted. I went back to my seat confused and with a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. I’d always known that my family wasn’t the norm, but I’d hadn’t occurred to me it was somehow worse than a two-parent household. As I was growing up, my
friends would ask, usually in quiet, cautious voices, why I never mentioned my dad. I never knew what to say. The looks on their faces made it seem like they were expecting me to dole out a sob story or snap at them for digging into my personal life. But my fatherlessness never seemed like a tragedy and definitely didn’t anger me. It was just how my life happened to work. My mom wanted kids. She was emotionally and financially prepared for them. And then, though she was unmarried, she had them. Leaving out the personal details, it’s just that simple. I tried to explain this as best I could to curious friends, but it rarely seemed to satisfy anyone. Some people would become quiet and awkward. Others would throw out pointed questions ranging from “Do you wish
your family was more ‘traditional’?” to “So do you have like daddy issues or something?” It was hard, if not impossible, to shake the notion that I wasn’t somehow damaged. I’ve had friends offer for me to stay the night at their houses or to be there “if I ever needed someone to talk to.” While these are undeniably kind moments, the same proposals just aren’t made to kids in typical households. And they made me not only feel insecure about family but pushed me question whether I actually was in a healthy environment.
two kids. But most people don’t choose to experience divorce, death, or any of the other tougher situations that can lead to a one-parent household. These circumstances can cause extreme emotional and financial harm. However, it’s not the one-parent setup itself that hurts kids. It’s a bad environment. Some families are actually more content in single-parent households. And I know I’d much rather be in my current circumstances than be a part of a family in which the parents were unhappily married or to-
”WHO MAKES UP A FAMILY SHOULDN’T DETERMINE ITS WORTH”
The more I experienced this the more it started to feel like talking about my family was setting the stage for my own pity party. So to avoid more questions, I fell into the habit of switching out “my mom” for “my parents” in conversation. I still do it now sometimes without even thinking about it. My experience isn’t like those of many single-parent kids. My mom chose to be a single mother and had the resources to support
gether but neglectful. This isn’t to say that having one less income and one less set of hands around the house doesn’t present challenges, but, and most importantly, I know I’m supported and cared for. Who makes up a family shouldn’t determine its worth, and kids who get the love and attention they need shouldn’t be made to feel as though they’re broken. We have to remember a happy family only has one qualifier.♦
GRAPHICS BY TENAYA TREMP
Heard in the Hallways 18
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“My cousin and I are related” -Weight Room
“I think I’m having separation anxiety from my dome” -Girls Locker Room
“Tam’s the school that all the little sh*ts go to” -Safeway
hen I was about seven or eight years old, I was brought into a school meeting with my parents and a few school administrators. They started talking, and I caught the words, “learning problem.” That had my attention. They told me I had dyslexia, which I, ironically, have always misspelled as “deselixya.” Dyslexia makes it more challenging to read and write — if I saw a word more than six letters long I couldn’t make it out. I remember the embarrassment when I read aloud because I had to sound out a word every five seconds. “He … doe … does … DOESN’T!” My reading stayed at that level until sometime in my sophomore year. But even to this day, I remember the whole car ride home, as my parents explained dyslexia. I’m still terrified to read out loud to the class. The second I hear my name, I always think, “Really? You want me to read? Are you sure?” The one thing that is worse than my reading is my math. I confuse my numbers and symbols, which is an-
other form of dyslexia called dyscalculia. For example, I sometimes see a 3 as an 8 or a 1 as a 7. It is also hard to understand and differentiate between certain mathematical theorems. It’s not like I don’t pay attention in class. It’s just that when the class ends, I pull out my notes and I swear that they look like one of Albert Einstein’s equations. I remember reading a study saying that 35 percent
“They told me I had dyslexia, which, I, ironically, have always misspelled as ‘deselixya.’”
of students with dyslexia drop out of high school. I can believe that. If most people with dyslexia or dyscalculia are below the basic standards of reading or math, it’s safe to say they will more easily fall behind in most mainstream subjects. Luckily, at Tam and the other schools in the district, there is a class called Academic Workshop, or A.W. These classes provide a small, quiet work space for students with learning challenges to do work for other classes and have extra tutoring. These are key in helping some students pass their classes, with the eventual goal of graduation. I want to make it into a university that I like, but a lot of the requirements in English and math make some colleges a reach because of my differences. I just wish they could see me
as someone who can try their absolute best in their studies, and not judge me entirely by grades that suffer from a struggle with dyslexia. If I do become a great student in college, I pray that I can be a poster child for dyslexics. If you are in a classroom and you see someone struggling with reading to the class, don’t judge them. If you are a teacher who is unsure about how to help a student with a learning disability, have a conversation with them and try and find a way to help them succeed in your classroom. To all those who are struggling with a learning disability of any type, don’t give up! Do everything you need to to get through school, because at the end of the day, you can still do something great, despite any problems put in front of you.♦ GRAPHIC BY TENAYA TREMP
“He just sent me a wholeface photo on Snapchat. I think I’m gonna block him” -Starbucks
“I wouldn’t mind if Satan was in my pants right now” -Library
“I can’t believe you jaywalked! You’re such a crackhead” -Arches DECEMBER 2019
hen the first Tam Unity Day with a closed campus was held on October 25, it sparked outrage in some students who abandoned the campus and the event in defiance of the policy, with a few of the more melodramatic going so far as to call the event “fascist.” By contrast, there appeared to be an increase in student attendance at recent sports games, most notably at the homecoming and Redwood football games, and this year’s homecoming dance also was well attended. So why is it that some students reacted with outrage at Unity Day? The answer probably has to do with how highly students value their free agency. Tam students are prideful of and firmly stand by their individualism, and for the most part, the rules
and school atmosphere reflect that. Students take for granted that they can leave campus during lunch, swear alongside teachers in class, make public displays of affection, and, in contrast to official policy, for the most part treat tutorial periods as time to use entirely at their own discretion. Policies
GRAPHIC BY SKYE SCHOENHOEFT
like a closed campus, more conservative dress codes, and stricter behavior guidelines wouldn’t even occur to many of us. It can also be difficult for students juggling a continuous stream of tests and assignments, social lives, jobs, sports, and other extra-
From our Letters to the Editor ... The opinions expressed are their own. They do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Tam News or its staff.
“Pamplona is like the Alabama of Spain” —Wood Hall is one of seven comments listed in the column Heard in the Hallways from the October 2019 issue of The Tam News. I was alarmed to see this comment in print, particularly in a column that is seemingly dedicated to relating humorous comments made by students. This comment casually conveys disdain, prejudice and an elitist attitude toward two communities of people: the citizens of Pamplona, Spain and those of the state of Alabama. The comment stands in stark contrast to the others listed in the column. It does not reflect a student behavior as the other six do. Instead, it infers a negative opinion about Pamplona and Alabama. It is, in short, offensive.” Cheryl Mochalski is a former Tam teacher and founder of the Tam High-Pamplona exchange. Read her full letter or submit your own at thetamnews.org/category/letters/
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curriculars to find reasons to invest their time in school events that seem to have little intrinsic value. But students’ reluctance to invest their time in the school community doesn’t just result in lifeless rallies, empty theatres, or dispiriting Unity Days. It results in indifference, a lack of community,
and a rejection of the genuine efforts of student leadership organizations. This lack of community also hinders well deserved support and recognition for the achievement of other clubs, departments, teams, and individuals at school. Mock Trial received
only feeble recognition for winning the state championship last year. Minimal attendance at events for theatre, music, and the arts results in poor financial and moral support for those programs, especially in a cash-strapped district like ours. Students’ freedom is not mutually exclusive with school spirit. Just as forcing participation in Unity Day may be counterproductive, so is student antipathy toward creating a proud and supportive community day. We should take the opportunity to honor the efforts and accomplishments of our peers, in leadership, the arts, sports, and academics whenever we can. Abandoning Unity Day, and the students who planned and participated, did not do that.♦
Crackin’ and Slackin’
Testosterone Testing in womens sports Star track runner Caster Semanya has been unfairly disallowed from participating in competitions because of her testosterone levels.
By Chloe Gammon
n the modern era, women have broken barriers in sports, continuously trying to gain more freedom in the competitive field. Billie Jean King, the world-renowned tennis player, proved the athletic ability of women in the famous 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match where she beat a famous male rival tennis player. In 1989, Tracy Edwards created the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race, the most dangerous sailing competition in the world. Now, we have a new female advocate named Caster Semenya, who is fighting against gender discrimination in major track and field competitions. The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), which is “track and field’s governing body,” according to the New York Times, has created regulations that women may only compete in advanced track and field competitions if their testosterone levels are below 5.0 liters. According to Medical News Today, normal levels in women can range between 1.5 to 7.0 L of testosterone. Hyperandrogenism is a condition in which some women may have heightened levels of testosterone, above the 5.0 L limit the IAAF enacted. Semenya naturally has larger amounts of testosterone in her body, and as a result she is being denied to compete as a woman in such races unless she takes medication to reduce those levels. Semenaya was born female and her heightened testosterone levels are not attributed to a gender transition; she was simply naturally born with high levels. But that should not alter the severity of the issue. Transitioning females and biological females alike should be able to perform in female sports. However, with the polarizing debate over gender, rulings and restrictions such as these reveal a larger issue: by restricting women based on their testosterone levels, competitive GRAPHIC BY SAM GLOCKER
track and field is becoming less and less progressive. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the IAAF’s regulations were discriminatory, but that this discrimination is “a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics,” according to Vox. They recognized the discriminatory nature of this female testosterone regulation, and yet still condoned it, to “level the playing field.” At what point then is discrimination justified on this basis?
“by restricting women based on their testosterone levels, competitive track and field is becoming less and less progressive.” The ruling overlooks that the fundamental basis of sports is an imbalance of skills. If there wasn’t inequality, then competitions, first place, and gold medals would be completely meaningless. There is always a best and worst in sports, and that is part of it’s competitive spirit. When artificial enhancements contribute to unfair advantages, it is logical that organizations and institutions in sports have tried to stop the use of enhancing drugs such as steroids. But natural human biological characteristics are not unfair advantages. The IAAF claimed that they were restricting Semenya and other women with higher testosterone levels from sports because they would have an unfair advantage with higher amounts of “muscle mass,” strength and o x y g e n - c a r-
rying capacity.” However, there are natural endowments about people’s bodies that may give athletes an unavoidable advantage in competitive sports, but these characteristics are not being regulated like testosterone. For example, as a reader under the name “DP” commented on a New York Times article, women with longer legs give them longer strides as they run, making them inherently faster than some other players. However, the IAAF isn’t restricting taller women from playing, because it’s a natural part of who they are. The same thing should apply to testosterone levels, which is uncontrollable in human bodies. Medication to reduce testosterone levels has uncomfortable side effects, such as fatigue, hot flashes, decrease in strength, increased body fat, and effects on metabolism, according to the magazine Healthline. If anything, the IAAF and various courts are putting these women at a disadvantage to their female counterparts that are considered less “manly” because of their hormone level. Since testosterone is seen as a “male” hormone, there is an underlying message of traditional “maleand-female” stereotyping within this regulation. It is curious that a sports organization will say that this natural condition, associated with gender, is unfair, when other kinds of imbalance are celebrated as part of the nature of sport.♦
GRAPHIC BY SAM GLOCKER DECEMBER 2019
By Summer Solomon
Tam sports players on how the statewide power outages have affected their teams By Summer Solomon
he end of October is normally an exciting time, with Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) championships just around the corner or already underway. This year, teams are instead facing multiple days of power outages and poor air quality due to the wildfires burning throughout the state. With school closed, sports practices and competitions were suspended, leaving many teams at a standstill. This left water polo without a pool to practice in, football off the fields, and cross country without a trail, as the bad air quality affected all outdoor sports, including water polo, tennis, volleyball, cross country, football, and cheer. For water polo, games were also postponed. On the girls side, Tam played Terra Linda on November 1, winning with a score of 9-4, with 4 of the goals coming from senior standout Sam Sternfels. Tam earned a spot in
PHOTO BY PAIGE ANDERSON
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the MCAL finals, where Drake defended their own MCAL title and beat Tam in a 7-5 victory. “The power outage made it so we could not train or practice together given that the heat and filter system of the pool were not working. This was extremely difficult because it was right before our MCAL playoffs and sort of threw us out of our rhythm.
“It was kind of frustrating that we couldn’t practice, yet I knew we needed to be patient and let things work out” However, now we are going to NCS and look forward to the competition,” Sternfels, who is the girls water polo captain, said.
Additionally, Tam girls tennis was scheduled to host Marin Catholic on Tuesday, October 29 in a semifinal match. However, due to the cancellation of school, the match was rescheduled for October 31 at the latest. “It was kind of stressful that we couldn’t practice, yet I knew we needed to be patient and let things work out,” junior Genevieve Durham said. Despite the changes in the match schedule, Tam played Redwood on November 1, claiming the MCAL title. The fire season pattern raises the question of whether or not sports will need to begin their competitions earlier in order to be finished before fire season hits. To this point, it is unpredictable on when that will be. Only time and the threat of red flag warnings can determine the outcome for fall sports schedules.♦
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Andrea Concannon Ann Colman Claire Muirhead Claudia & Ethan Moeller Conybeare-Mitchell Family Dawn Dobras & Eric Swergold Gail & Jack Bernstein Gretchen & John Boyle Jennifer Levine Judith Harkins Linda Williams Matt Lavine Mochi Toy-Grace Patty Ginnebaugh Rosevear Family Sternfels Family
Anonymous Amy Besford Caryn & Daniel Lentz Chris & Rena Chase Chris Wilmoth Conger Family Erin Victoria Edgar Hilde Kraemling Irene Wright Jade Schoenhoeft Jamie Crombie Janet Daijogo Jennifer Chu & John Park Jennifer Jerde & Daniel Castor Jesse & Amy Pearson Justine Whitehead Karen Mixon-Martin Kathy Reed Kevin Head Kris Malone Grossman
Lachter Family Leslie Dixon Lily & Erik Rosegard Lisa Driscoll Lisa Preger Liz Schumacher Maki Daijogo & David Spiegelman Michael Hatfield Michael Levinson Muir Family Nancy Conger Priest-Heck Family Richard Peterson Ruth Overton Sarosi Family Sharon Kramlich Sharon Malone Spence Family Stephanie Plante Sue & Steve Weinswig
Bruce & Elyce Goldberg Carmen White Carrie & Theo Emison Cathyt Marhhefka Chai Family Cherry Wong Cheryl Reiss Chris Hill Claire Muirhead Conellon Coxwell Curtis Leavitt Cynthia Bergstromo Cynthia Samson & Alan Cowan Deedee Taft Devon Rothwell Eli Behar Elia Fullerton Emily Goldman
Ernie Hanks Evans Family Finn Partners Fiona McDermott Frankel Family Gail Goldman Genevieve Hekemian Gina Brown Helen Chang Ines Carreras Ingrid Lin Irene Wright Jack Spence Janie Karp Jean Brown Jennifer & Dave Cormier Jennifer Murr Jenny & Steve Terry John Boyajy
John Skjervem John Wall Jolie Feng Kara Parsons Karen Carrera Karen Mandala Kathleen Craven Kathy & Mike Bishop Kathy Piomo Katja Steineke Keane Family Kit Harris Kunz Family Lagier Larisa Tempero Libby A. Tracy Lifeworks Lily & Zinnia McKenna Linda Spears Lisa Buckingham Madeleine Buckingham Madeleine Gish Marc & Sue Holzer Mark Talamantes Marly & Stephen Goldblatt Mary Overton
Matthew McKew & Nancy Sun Meezan Construction Michelle Enlow Mireya Ching Misako Stewart Morty & Kathy Piombo Muriel & Lou Lachter Nancy W. Benjamin Nathan Kruse Nell Mitchell Nelly Thomas Nozima Akhmed Paul Tyers Peggy & Joel Elekman Peter Cann Preis Family Remon Tijssen Richard & Nancy Head Robin & Don Moses Rosen Family Rosenthal Rovshan Shakirov Ruth Overton Sage Educators Sally Minchin Sebastian Chen
Shahla Khailtash Sheena Bogan Sherry & Jeff Rosenthal Simone Morrow Skjervern Inc. Smith Family Sonia Lachter Stacey Evans Stephanie CuccaroAlamin Teala Warga Teron Gorham Tim Shakirov Tony Brown Toppel Family Treacy Family Trina & Jeff Taylor Veronica Guillen Vivian Bauer Walker Avery Elkins Wendy Feng & Michael Wall Wendy Nichols Will & Barbara Owens Zevan Solomon Zimmers & Dunn Household Zoe Cowan
Bronze Anonymous Abdurasul Shakirov Alex Mortenson Andrew & Candida Hoeberichts Andrew & Eileen Fisher Andrew Tolson Anika Sanda Anne Peters Anthony Barkovich April & Howard Solomon Asian Investment Corporation Barbara Siskin Beckett Chen Bethany Conybeare & Emery Mitchell Bob & Sue Samson
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