Daily Archives: February 4, 2010


The Berkeley Wire: 2.04.10

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Something for the weekend

A hackathon in action
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Buena Vista Social Club on your doorstep: Tito plays authentic El Son, and there are Cuban Salsa dance lessons before the performance. At Ashkenaz, doors open at 8 p.m. on Friday. Been training for a hackathon? Y Combinator expects 100 people this weekend in Soda Hall, for 18 hours of “hacking craziness”, from 6 p.m. on Friday to midnight on Saturday. You can join the coders, or just watch minds at work. Yes we can: Fourth annual … Continue reading »


BHS science lab controversy: A parent’s viewpoint

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Susan Helmrich has been a parent at Berkeley High for the last six years. As co-chair of the Development Group and a former member of the school site council, Helmrich is very familiar with the workings of the high school. Yet last night’s school board meeting left her – and many others – confused about which science lab proposal is on the table. The following is her report of the evening.

There was a tremendous amount of confusion around last night’s school board meeting.  Despite the fact that Superintendent Huyett stated he had worked out a compromise plan with science teachers in January to retain labs for some of the IB and AP science classes, Principal Jim Slemp appeared to be pushing ahead with his original plan to eliminate 0 and 7th period science labs altogether.  The Board packet for last night’s meeting included Principal Slemp’s plan and not Superintendant Huyett’s.  All of this was extremely confusing as the BUSD’s own homepage stated that a compromise had been worked out.  However, the superintendent’s proposal was nowhere to be seen in the packet, and he apologized profusely at the meeting for the omission as he tried to clarify the agenda.  Supt. Huyett assured everyone in attendance that “we are looking for high standards for all students and he had no intention to bring the top down in trying to close the achievement gap”.

As a parent very involved at Berkeley High and a former member of the School Governance Coucil, I remain extremely confused.  Which proposal is being considered?  Does Principal Slemp need School Board approval for his plan?  Does the Superintendent’s plan trump the Principal’s? Does either plan need BSEP P & O (Process and Oversight Committee) approval?

I was hoping to speak at the BUSD Board meeting last night. However my card did not get picked. Here are some of the points I would have made:

1)  When would these so-called “equity” classes on note-taking and study skills be offered?  If (as some have said) kids aren’t showing up for interesting classes like science labs, what makes anyone think they will show up for a class on study skills and how to take notes?

2) We need to invest this kind of time and effort in the middle schools so students can come to BHS already knowing how to take notes and manage their time. Also, can’t these kinds of things be incorporated into every class already being taught — or what about the advisories?  I thought this was going to be one of the goals of advisories.

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No swap for Berkeley prisoners in Iran

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ruled out a prisoner swap to free the three Berkeley hikers held in Iran. Two days ago, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the hikers could be freed if Iranian prisoners in the U.S. were also freed.

Speaking in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Clinton said, “It is hard to know what the Iranian president meant from these press reports of his comments” about a possible exchange of prisoners.

“As … Continue reading »

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Pastrami flap: Saul’s Deli is in a pickle

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Walk in to Saul’s Delicatessen on Shattuck on any given lunchtime and it’s likely to be packed. You’ll probably see Michael Pollan at one table, tucking in to some Middle Eastern delicacies and, if he’s in town, Dave Winer enjoying a bowl of their superb borscht at another.

But there’s some kvetching going on. Owners Peter Levitt and Karen Adelman reckon about a fifth of their customers don’t approve of their sustainable menu which is … Continue reading »

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Local business

Another Berkeley business loss

Solar panels
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Why can’t Berkeley hang on to its successful companies?

Sungevity, which makes home solar electricity systems, is moving from Bancroft Way in Berkeley to Jack London Square in Oakland. The company currently has 54 employees. Its Berkeley offices have 6,000 square feet, and the Oakland move will give them 20,000 square feet.

Sungevity is the latest Berkeley-founded business to move out of the city as it grows. Clif Bar moved to Emeryville last year and … Continue reading »

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Another chocolate factory says goodbye

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First Scharffen Berger, now Charles Chocolates. What is it about the East Bay that chocolate factories don’t find accommodating?

Charles Chocolates owner Chuck Siegel tells SFoodie today that he is planning to close his 6,700 square foot operation on the Berkeley borders in Emeryville on February 15, and — hopefully — open a new retail space in the San Francisco Centre on Market Street.

It’s disappointing news for those of us who enjoyed … Continue reading »

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Berkeley residents donate more on-line

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Berkeley donates more money via the Internet than any other city in California, according to a recent report. It also has the nation’s seventh highest donor rate per capita.

The average resident donated $10.64 on-line to charities, according to Convio, a Texas company which organized Internet fundraisers. It has an office in Berkeley.

How does San Francisco fare? Read here to find out.

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Lots of talk, but no action on BHS science classes

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More than a dozen people spoke out Wednesday night against cutting science labs at Berkeley High School, but the school board took no action on the controversial proposal.

Parents and students, though, did get to hear the thoughts of BHS principal Jim Slemp, who has been publicly silent in the last few months  — after he played a rousing speech by the late Martin Luther King.

“Our community at Berkeley High School has failed the African-Americans,” said Slemp, according to … Continue reading »

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