Category Archives: Schools

Op-ed: Schools need to stop our friends from making us fat

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Obesity is contagious. If I am obese, my friends, my friends’ friends, and my friends’ friends’ friends are more likely to be obese.

These obese social networks are growing, as evidenced by American children being three times more likely to be obese today than they were in the 1980s. How do we combat this staggering trend?

Implementing national nutrition and cooking curriculum standards in schools would be a start. This would promote healthy relationships with food among social networks, as … Continue reading »

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Religious group with cameras targets school kids

Bible van photo Jolie Gobler
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When Jolie Gobler, an eighth-grader at King Middle School in Berkeley, left school at the end of the day Wednesday last week she was surprised to see people right outside campus assertively passing out religious pamphlets to students, titled “Our Savior Jesus Christ.”

They were working from a van, parked on Grant Street by the school. Messages painted on the van read: “Seek the Lord Jesus” and “Holy Bible” in English and Spanish.

Gobler was also a little irked. She wrote Berkeleyside: “They were shoving (the pamphlets) in to students’ hands. I asked one of them what they were doing at a public school preaching about religion. They replied they were informing students about Jesus and said that if we believe in “our savior” we would be forgiven for our sins.”

Eventually, Gobler said, a vice principal came out and talked to the apparent missionaries, a response she felt was slow. “It would be great to find out… what the school administration will be doing to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Gobler wrote.

Not much.

This is because passing out religious material outside a school is perfectly legal, as long as the activity isn’t on school property, said Mark Coplan, Berkeley Unified School District spokesman. … Continue reading »

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Feds launch civil rights investigation into Berkeley School District’s response to sexual harassment claims

Berkeley High School. Photo: Lance Knobel
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The federal Office for Civil Rights has launched an investigation into whether the Berkeley Unified School District inadequately responded to sexual harassment claims at Berkeley High School, thereby creating a “hostile environment on the basis of sex.”

Failure to adequately respond to sexual harassment claims is a federal offense under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded educational program. The Office for Civil Rights, which is a sub-agency of the Department of Education, opened the investigation after receiving a complaint letter in December from Heidi Goldstein, a parent of two Berkeley High School students. The office’s investigation was launched in late January. … Continue reading »

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One of Berkeley’s largest trees to be cut down

Euc1 Nancy Rubin
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A giant Eucalyptus tree that presides over the swimming pool at King Middle School needs to be felled due to safety concerns, according to City of Berkeley tree experts.

The tree, which sports not one, but four massive trunks, and soars to an estimated 140 ft, is much loved by regulars at the pool, and news that it will be removed has come as a blow to many.

“There’s no outrage in this story, just sadness and admiration for a truly majestic tree that has reached its end,” said local resident Robert Collier. … Continue reading »

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If measles breaks out in Berkeley, unvaccinated children may be quarantined for 21 days

The current outbreak of measles in California can be traced back to Disneyland. Photo /Creative Commons
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If measles breaks out in any Berkeley school, the Berkeley public health department will direct all unvaccinated children in that school to stay at home for 21 days, the department announced on Jan. 29. This applies to both public and private schools.

The announcement comes as California is experiencing an unprecedented number of measles cases, most linked to a December outbreak at Disneyland. There have been more cases of measles reported in January 2015 than there were in all of 2014, according to Dr. Janet Berreman, Berkeley’s director of public health. Since measles is highly contagious, those numbers are expected to climb.

“I am strongly encouraging families who didn’t vaccinate their children to reconsider that decision in the face of a statewide outbreak of measles,” said Dr. Berreman. … Continue reading »

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Mrs. Dalloway’s to give Berkeley teachers $100 in books

Mrs. Dalloway's books
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Every kindergarten and first grade teacher in the Berkeley Unified School District will soon have the opportunity to buy $100 worth of books, thanks to an offer made by Mrs. Dalloway’s bookstore and the best-selling author James Patterson.

The bookstore at 2904 College Ave. applied for a grant from Patterson to distribute gift certificates to teachers. It learned this week it had gotten $8,500, according to Marion Abbott, one of the store’s owners. That means 85 teachers will get $100 apiece.

“It’s very exciting,” said Abbott. “Unlike some book stores that are putting in new floors or buying vans, we are putting the money into teachers’ hands. I think it is really going to make a difference.” … Continue reading »

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Schools

School board votes on short-term overcrowding solutions

Students and faculty from Berkeley Adult School stand and hold signs in solidarity against relocation of the school on Thursday's board meeting. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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The Berkeley School Board voted unanimously Wednesday on a two-year stop-gap solution to handle overcrowding in schools in the coming years.

Although the discussion for the long-term solution, which involves replacing the Berkeley Adult School with an elementary school, was not discussed by the Board, the issue drew over 200 people, including over 100 BAS students and faculty members holding signs in solidarity.

Read more about school enrollment issues on Berkeleyside.

Over 20 Berkeley residents and students spoke during the public comments, providing a wide spectrum of opinions in support and against the BAS relocation proposal. Board president Judy Appel announced there will be a town hall meeting on February to allow more people to speak.

“We’re not in a position to talk about the long-term solutions,” said Superintendent Donald Evans.  … Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Decision time for board on overcrowding

BUSD is dropping effort to establish community school at the Berkeley Adult School. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Jan. 14, for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. See the Jan. 14 agenda packet here. (It’s a large file that may take time to load.)

The board is expected to decide how to handle overcrowding in the schools in the coming three years.

Closed session

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss recruitment for a Berkeley High principal, the superintendent’s performance evaluation and litigation. The board does not always get to all items on the closed session agenda. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken before the closed session.

Action items

The final part of a four-part discussion on enrollment and capacity is scheduled (p. 51 of the meeting packet). Berkeley schools’ enrollment is expected to increase by about 250 students in the next three years. Over the past three months the school board has considered about a dozen options to accommodate more students. Read past coverage here.  … Continue reading »

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New BHS principal: School district seeks community input

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The Berkeley school district is seeking the community’s input as it ramps up its search for a new principal for Berkeley High School.

The high school is inviting parents and stakeholders to attend a meeting in the BHS Library on Tuesday Jan. 13 to share their thoughts about the leadership skills they believe are needed for the school.

The high school has been without a permanent principal since Pasquale Scuderi stepped down at the end of the last academic year, and took up the position of Berkeley Unified’s assistant superintendent for educational services. Scuderi was principal of Berkeley High for four years. … Continue reading »

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Vice principal at St. Mary’s school killed in bike accident

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The St. Mary’s College High School community is reeling from the accidental death Saturday of its assistant vice principal of student affairs.

Herman Shum, 40, who had just accepted a position as principal at Justin-Siena High School in Napa after 11 years at St. Mary’s, was killed during a bicycle ride east of Dublin in unincorporated Contra Costa County.

Shum was among a group of 50-60 cyclists who were riding in a pack on Highland Road around 9:45 a.m. Dec. 27, according to Sgt. Brent Bartusch of the California Highway Patrol. There was a collision of sorts at the front of the group of cyclists and some bikers fell to the ground.

Shum was in the back of the group. He may have taken evasive action to avoid the collision or he may have crashed into some bikers, said Bartusch. CHP officials are still investigating, but know that Shum was thrown from his bike and landed in the road where he was run over by a Peterbilt truck. Two others were also hurt, one seriously. … Continue reading »

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Youth artists bring vibrant mosaics to Berkeley school

Youth artists created two mosaics to increase visibility at the busy intersection near Malcolm X. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Two new lively mosaics — one in warm reds and yellows, the other in cool blues and greens — greet passers-by on either end of the Ashby border of Malcolm X Elementary School.

It’s the block where a kindergartener was hit by a car while she was walking to school in 2009. After receiving surgery on her fractured skull, the girl miraculously survived, but the incident shook the community and marked the Ashby and Ellis Street intersection as a danger zone.

Five years later, young artists from Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) placed the final tile on the colorful structures designed to promote safety in the area and notify drivers that they’re near a school. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school district holds Black Lives Matter forum

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On Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Berkeley Unified School District held a Black Lives Matter forum for the district’s middle- and high-school students, as well as their families.

Conceived and organized by Charity DaMarto, BUSD’s supervisor of Family Engagement and Equity, and Director of Student Services Susan Craig, the event was held to discuss what the school community could do to respond to the social justice issues underlying the recent court decisions in the Ferguson and New York police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Watch the whole forum in the video below. … Continue reading »

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Kids get new perspective on plastic, make eco-art

Sean Keller, fourth-grade teacher at Jefferson School, fixing one of the eco-art panels.
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By Ann Krueger Spivack

While students in Sean Keller’s fourth-grade class at Jefferson School tie broken toys onto a wire mesh panel, Colleen Mahoney is talking about LEGOs. Mahoney nods to a red LEGO brick that one student picks up from a table.

“In 2012, 45.7 billion LEGO bricks were produced. That’s more than 5 million bricks every hour. Right now you could give every person on the planet eighty LEGOs and you’d still have LEGO bricks left over.”

Students stop working to listen to Mahoney, and it’s clear they’re considering how much plastic humans create on an hourly basis, and what this means for the planet. This lesson is a first step in teaching children about plastic, where it comes from and where it goes. Where plastic goes is of particular concern to Mahoney, the founder of A Kid By Nature, the nonprofit group sponsoring this lesson about plastic’s impact on the environment. Mahoney explains what motivates her to bring environmental projects such as this one into classrooms, without any cost to the schools. … Continue reading »

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