Tag Archives: Berkeley schools

Anonymous email threatens students at Berkeley school after Sacramento rally tied to local teacher

A police cruiser was parked outside Martin Luther King. Jr. Middle School on Monday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Local and federal authorities investigated threats Monday targeting youth at a North Berkeley middle school by a group that demanded the termination of a teacher who protested against a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento over the weekend.

The rally Sunday made national headlines due to violent clashes between the white supremacists who took out a permit to rally at the state capitol and the counter-protesters who showed up to confront them. According to some news reports, members of the counter-protest appear to have initiated the violence. The LA Times reported that seven people were stabbed and 10 hospitalized.

One of the people who took responsibility for helping organize the counter-protest was Yvette Felarca, a teacher at North Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, at 1781 Rose St. Felarca is an organizer with the activist group By Any Means Necessary, which helped lead a series of Black Lives Matter protests in Berkeley in December 2014.

Parents of day campers were told Monday morning that one of the counter-protesters from Sacramento had been linked to the Berkeley school where the camps were located. The public outing had prompted an influx of emails to the principal demanding that the teacher be fired. … Continue reading »

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Schools

Op-ed: Berkeley, testing, testing, 1-2-3… is this thing on?

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BUSD is preparing for standardized testing next week. Meanwhile, across the rest of the country, there’s a strong, vocal tide that’s swelled into what has become the largest revolt against high-stakes testing in U.S. history.

I have been surprised by the silence in Berkeley.

Public school advocates throughout the US are voicing opposition to modern school “reform” practices that civil rights icon, James Meredith calls “catastrophically misguided and ineffective”.

It’s time to break the silence.

This community has … Continue reading »

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And the survey says: Berkeley is on the right track

Berkeley has a critical housing shortage and needs new developments, writes Mayor Tom Bates in an op-ed published on Berkeleyside. Seen here: a proposed building on San Pablo Avenue. Image: HKIT Architects
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Affordable housing and homelessness topped the list on a survey of concerns voiced by Berkeley voters polled last week.

Most respondents, 64%, said the city is heading in the right direction, with 62% describing city services as good or excellent, and another 30% as “fair.”

The polling firm was hired by the city to survey 500 voters by phone to test the waters for possible November 2016 ballot measures. The city posted a quick summary of those results this week, and plans to look more closely at them during the April 5 Berkeley City Council meeting.

The Berkeley-based firm Lake Research Partners called registered voters from March 13-17 and questioned those who said they were likely to vote in November.

Top priorities of respondents included affordable housing (22%), homelessness (17%), improving education and schools (14%), and reducing crime (11%). … Continue reading »

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Council approves $1.5M to fight soda consumption

Two high-school students on their lunch break carry food and drink out of the McDonald’s on University Avenue in Berkeley. Photo, taken on Monday Oct. 20, 2014, by Gael McKeon
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Officials voted Tuesday night to step up the fight against sugary drinks in Berkeley by boosting public health staffing, helping pay for school nutrition programs and funding grants to help limit the impacts of, and access to, sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million from the general fund in the coming fiscal year to those efforts. The vote was in response to a request from a citizen board, the “Sugar Sweetened Beverage Products Panel of Experts,” which has been working since last May to come up with recommendations to guide the city following the successful passage of Measure D, a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on drinks with added sweeteners such as sodas, and energy and coffee drinks.

Berkeley was lauded as the first city in the nation to pass a tax on sugary drinks. The measure was approved with 75% of the vote in November 2014.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the soda tax.

Since tax collection began last May, the city has brought more than $1.2 million into the general fund, staff said Tuesday night. Council members said they want to do their best to align any spending plans with tax revenues, though all the money is technically part of the general fund. … Continue reading »

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Sports

Elisha Davis: Determined to be great, on and off the court

Elisha Davis, a Berkeley High alum, is succeeding on the court and off. Photo: Sun Devil Athletics
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For a college student athlete, there is no season more important than your senior year. It’s the year when everything could soon be coming to an end: the long practices, the extra work on weekends, the countless hours in the library. For many, it is a bittersweet reality.

For Arizona State Sun Devil and Berkeley High graduate Elisha Davis, senior year is an opportunity to live out dreams she has worked for since she was a child. Through her hard work and dedication, Davis has become an honor roll student with WNBA potential. She enters this season with pro aspirations and graduation right around the corner.

Davis, who graduated from Berkeley High in 2012, was introduced to basketball at the age of 6 by her father, and has been in love with the game ever since.

“My first love was really football,” said the 21-year-old Oakland native. “My dad wouldn’t let me play because I was a girl. So he gave me a basketball and basically told me to stay off the football field.” … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM First thing to say is that this is tonight, Friday Nov. 6, with the first presentation starting at 5:45pm. Berkeley Research, Evaluation and Assessment (BREA) is hosting the return of the Berkeley Unified School District Research Symposium. The Symposium brings leading thinkers in current innovative educational research together with Berkeley community members, BUSD educators and parents. Presentations cover a range of topics: from social-emotional learning and adolescent neurology to equity issues in music education, new approaches to assessing student needs, topics in special education, and much more. Check-in begins at 5:15 pm at Longfellow Middle School and last presentation ends at8:30 pm. The event is free and childcare is on offer as are light refreshments. Full details of the program on the BUSD website. … Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley School Board to get student residency update

There are about 300 students at Berkeley High who live outside the city but have received permits to attend BHS. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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After approving a new admissions and enrollment policy in June aimed to curtail the illegal enrollment of out-of-district students, the Berkeley School Board is set to receive a report at tonight’s meeting that sums up district efforts this year related to residency and inter-district permits.

According to the staff report prepared for the Nov. 4, board meeting, the Berkeley Unified School District has enrolled 9,880 students for the 2015-16 year. That includes 1,525 students who enrolled in the district for the first time and had to comply with the new rules.

The new board policy requires students seeking admission to BUSD to provide three “proofs of residency” and a declaration form stating that Berkeley is the family’s home district.

Earlier this year, the new policy required the families of all fifth-graders to prove their residency before being allowed to register for middle school, according to the district. This school year, eighth-graders will have to comply with the district’s admission policy before being allowed to register for classes at Berkeley High, according tonight’s staff report. … Continue reading »

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School Board considers name change at Le Conte

LeConte Elementary School. Le Conte. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Berkeley school officials are considering changing the name of Le Conte Elementary after community members raised concerns about its namesake, Joseph Le Conte, a deeply respected UC Berkeley faculty member and a passionate conservationist who helped found the Sierra Club.

Le Conte was also, however, a slave owner and staunch supporter of the Confederacy who held views that, from a modern perspective, no longer reflect Berkeley values.

“When I did some research on Le Conte and found out that he was an unabashed, devout racist,” said School Board Member Ty Alper at a board meeting in August, “it made me really uncomfortable that we have a school named after him.”

School board members said they believe it is important that district facilities are named after people who symbolize equity and equality. The board met Aug. 26 and agreed, in concept, to work toward changing the name of Le Conte Elementary, though more discussion will take place before the official vote. The board is planning to reshape its overall naming policy, then come back to look at specific sites. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley School Board must take action on sexual harassment

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In Berkeley, a topic of concern is “disproportionality,” the discrepancy between how often students of color are disciplined compared to their population. One of the greatest deterrents to the school-to-prison pipeline is prevention. Education, training, and a culture of respect lead to a safer school environment, which in turn leads to fewer incidents. Stronger, safer policies coupled with a consistent response to bullying and harassment of any kind, lead to fewer suspensions.

Years ago, the federal government decided that every school district needed a Title IX Coordinator to handle complaints about discrimination (which includes bullying and harassment). School districts that receive federal funding must be in compliance with Title IX. Shockingly, and despite the BUSD’s latest PR campaign touting its achievements, the district continues to be out of compliance with the most basic federal requirements, thus creating a precarious situation for our students, where job #1 should be ensuring their safety. … Continue reading »

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Schools

Berkeley Technology Academy starts semester with record low enrollment

BTA Principal Sheila Quintana. Image: BUSD
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Berkeley Technology Academy, the city’s alternative high school, was set to begin the year with record low enrollment, Principal Sheila Quintana told the School Board in late August.

Quintana gave the board an update on the school’s efforts at its Aug. 26 meeting, detailing recent successes and challenges since she was hired in 2011.

Quintana has worked to revamp BTA’s record keeping and data collection, upgrade campus infrastructure, and win accreditation for its coursework so the BTA diploma carries more clout for graduates. Graduation rates, too, have risen in recent years.

“There’s been considerable progress,” Superintendent Donald Evans told the board.

Quintana reported to the board in August, however, that only 50 students had enrolled in her program, compared to an average of 86 in prior years.

“I have a whole staff, but I only have 50 students,” she told the board. “There’s a lot of reasons why, but I know certain articles that hit the news, parents are kind of upset about that.” … Continue reading »

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BHS Stop Harassing takes campaign to Berkeley council

BHS Stop Harassing has been working to raise awareness about sexual harassment and other types of discrimination at Berkeley High over the past year. Photo: BHS Stop Harassing
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Advocates working to raise awareness about sexual harassment faced by Berkeley Unified students asked the Berkeley City Council for its support Tuesday night, saying the school district has not done enough to respond to ongoing problems faced by students, or comply with mandatory rules.

City officials said they were sympathetic to the group but could not take a position until the Board of Education has a chance to respond. Officials asked city staff to bring the matter to the School Board’s attention, and said they would consider revisiting the topic down the line.

On the Sept. 15 agenda was a resolution submitted to council by the city’s Peace & Justice Commission, which voted earlier this year to send the resolution to council and the board. The resolution was in support of the BHS Stop Harassing group’s work, and outlined the problem as described by the group.

According to the commission’s report, the Berkeley Unified School District did not adequately address the sexual harassment of a student by a school administrator in 2010, when allegations arose related to inappropriate touching and suggestive remarks made to a student by a BHS counselor.

In that case, the district settled in 2011-12 with the impacted family and agreed, among other remedies, to improve the language in the BUSD handbook related to sexual harassment, create an advisory committee to tackle the policy issue, and improve training for parents related to the subject. … Continue reading »

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Photo Gallery: First days back at school in Berkeley

BUSD first days back at school September 2015. Photo: Mark Coplan
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If you’ve got kids in Berkeley Unified you’ll have been hearing all about their first days back at school this week: what their new teachers are like, who they sit next to in class, what their friends have been up to over the summer. Berkeley Unified spokesperson and official photographer Mark Coplan has been dropping in on campuses across the city over the past two days to capture a host of ‘back to school’ moments.

On Wednesday Coplan visited 15 sites in this order: Washington Elementary; Berkeley High; Berkeley Arts Magnet (BAM); Willard Middle School; Longfellow Middle School; the BUSD admissions office; Independent Studies; Willard (with lunch); Emerson; Oxford; Thousand Oaks; King M.S.; Jefferson; Berkeley Adult School; Rosa Parks and King CDC. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Community Fund awards record number of college scholarships to Berkeley students

Photo: Berkeley Community Fund
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Twenty-seven Berkeley High students who were awarded scholarships to college by the the Berkeley Community Fund (BCF) were honored at the Berkeley City Club on Monday, June 8.

The winners of the High Hopes Scholarships represent a wide range of ethnicities, family backgrounds, and academic interests. Most are first-generation college students, and many are immigrants. They will all receive $16,000 over four years in need-based scholarships and one-on-one mentorships.

The Berkeley Community Fund’s High Hopes Scholarship Program has supported low-income, high-achieving Berkeley High School students since 2008. This year marks the highest number of students ever to receive High Hopes scholarships, up from 23 last year. The students have already been accepted to a four-year college; BCF ensures that they can attend and succeed. Continue reading »

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