North Bay parents divided over back-to-school billboard

"It is insulting to our teachers who are working so hard. Parents and kids who are working their tails off," said Tamara Litori of Rohnert Park.

Video Transcript

- Here's another look, not an Amber Alert, more a call to action. And now the mother who put up the GoFundMe page to make this billboard happen has gone public.

ANDREA QUARTAROLO: It was me.

- Why?

ANDREA QUARTAROLO: Because our children don't have a voice. And no one's listening to them.

- In the process though, this billboard has generated more than a little divisiveness.

TAMARA LITORI: It's insulting to our teachers who are working so hard.

- But the billboard is hardly one of a kind. Instead, it's part of a grassroots movement that began in Benicia last January with cups along a fence spelling out the words, "open our schools" and "let them play," which were quickly torn down.

SARAH FERRUCI: Instead of focusing on getting our students back, this is getting tied into other things that it's not.

- Hence, all the electronic iterations that followed. At last count, there were 60 of these billboards across California now, with more on the way. Jonathan Zacherson of Roseville has been running the movement.

JONATHAN ZACHRESON: The longer schools are closed, you know, the more likely Gavin Newsom is going to be recalled when it does go to an election.

- Though locally the parents who paid to put up these signs insist that politics don't belong in the discussion. They want flexibility from school boards. They worry about the mental health of their kids and about nine-year-olds like Elliana Roca. She's a Rohnert Park fourth grader who misses her friends, her classes, and says she isn't learning as well as she did before COVID.

ELLIANA ROCA: I've fallen back. Now I'm just average. I used to be above average.

- Administrators, meantime, are sympathetic. But they say they're caught between teachers unions and other precautions.

MAYRA PEREZ: From the governor, from the health officials, from, you know, different, different entities that we have to interact with.

- So if you see one of these billboards by the road, read between the lines. You'll find exasperation.

ANDREA QUARTAROLO: If we're going to work every day and the average Target worker goes and everyone else is going to work, why do we have to have the teachers be any more different than you and me?

- To be continued.