Tag Archives: BHS science labs

Schools

D-Day for BHS science labs?

Superintendent Huyett and Principal Slemp
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It’s increasingly looking like the debate over the future of science labs at Berkeley High is coming down to political maneuvering and brinkmanship.

When BUSD Superintendent Bill Huyett met BHS parents on January 19, there was a clear impression that some acceptable compromise had been reached that would both safeguard extra science lab time at the high school and find resources to improve the school’s bad achievement gap. There were suggestions that a letter would go out soon. BHS … Continue reading »

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Schools

L.A. Times reports on BHS science lab issue

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In case you missed it, the Los Angeles Times ran a feature story yesterday on the ongoing science lab debate at Berkeley High School.

It kicks off with this context information:

In the last school year, 82% of Berkeley’s AP chemistry students passed the rigorous exam, which gives college credit for high school work. The national passing rate is 55.2%. The school’s AP biology and physics students are even more successful.

Most districts would not argue with such a record, … Continue reading »

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Schools

When Huyett met the BHS PTSA

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A Berkeleyside reader who attended last night’s Berkeley High PTSA meeting with BUSD Superintendent Bill Huyett and other school board members emailed some of her impressions:

I thought tonight’s meeting was very good. It really got complicated; then we all realized that is part of the problem – the system as it is now is just TOO complicated. And this kind of thing is really complex in the first place. Then it was explained that –laws change, –BSEP was … Continue reading »

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Schools

Superintendent Huyett issues statement on BHS science lab debate

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William Huyett, Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent, this morning issued a statement to parents on the Berkeley High science/equity debate.

There are two important items in the statement. First, Huyett writes that the proposal is expected to come before the BUSD Board of Directors on February 3. BHS Principal Jim Slemp has been asserting throughout the controversy that the board did not need to approve the plan. Second, on my reading, the thrust of the statement is to support the … Continue reading »

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Community

Listen live now to BHS science flap on KQED

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The Forum program which covers the Berkeley High School controversy is beginning now.

Michael Krasny’s guests are Jill Tucker, education writer for The San Francisco Chronicle; Karen Hemphill, president of the BUSD board; Mardi Sicular-Mertens, senior member of the BHS … Continue reading »

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Schools

BHS science debate could be raised tomorrow night

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It’s still unclear when the science/equity issue at Berkeley High will come before the Berkeley Unified School District board, but advocates for the current science lab schedule are encouraging supporters to attend tomorrow’s board meeting.

The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Attendees who wish to speak are given a yellow speaker’s postcard. If you don’t wish to speak when called, you can yield your time to, for example, one of the … Continue reading »

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Schools

Next on the BHS agenda: Meeting superintendent

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The controversy over the proposed elimination of 0 and 7th period science labs at Berkeley High has brought the school’s governance issues into the spotlight. Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett will attend a meeting with parents next Tuesday, January 19, to both explain his views and to solicit feedback.

Here’s the announcement from the PTSA:

The PTSA is hosting a parent meeting in the BHS library on Tuesday, January 19, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  … Continue reading »

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Schools

BHS science/equity debate — the latest

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Peggy Scott, one of the four parent representatives on the Berkeley High School Governance Council, sends this update from yesterday’s meeting:

[Berkeley High School principal] Mr. Slemp announced that the enhancement funds that pay for 0 and 7 period labs may not be available due to cuts in the state budget. He does not plan to take his  new plan to the School Board meeting next  Wednesday 1/13.

Additionally, the next SGC meeting, which planned to consider the first round of equity grants, … Continue reading »

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Schools

The BHS science flap — the ripples are spreading

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When I first wrote about principal Jim Slemp’s proposal to eliminate 0 and 7th period science labs at Berkeley High, not many people seemed to notice. We’ve tried on Berkeleyside to keep up with events on what is a key issue for BHS and Berkeley more broadly. We’re particularly grateful for the many thoughtful comments that have flowed in to our main post on the subject.

It’s good to report that many more people now have picked up … Continue reading »

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Schools

BHS board meeting dominated by science issue

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Five of the ten speaker slots at last night’s Berkeley High School board meeting were taken up with the ongoing debate over Principal Jim Slemp’s proposal to cut certain science classes to channel funds towards closing the school’s achievement gap.
Turnout was estimated to be around 20-30 parents and teachers. The president of the board, Karen Hemphill, said the board had not seen the proposal in question. Speaking on the topic … Continue reading »

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Schools

Science and equity: BHS parents weigh in

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The controversy continues over Berkeley High School principal Jim Slemp’s proposal to eliminate before- and after-school time for science labs in order to direct funding towards “equity grants” aimed at reducing the achievement gap in the school.

See Berkeleyside’s original post on this issue here and an open letter on the subject from Priscilla Myrick, a former BHS Governance Council parent representative, here.

A group of BHS parents has set up a “Science and Equity” group which is questioning the need to choose between the two.

They have drafted a letter to the community articulating their point-of-view and suggesting steps those who support them can take. We reproduce it here:

BERKELEY HIGH PARENTS FOR SCIENCE and EQUITY

ScienceAndEquity@gmail.com

Dec. 15, 2009

Subject:  BHS science program under attack

Dear Berkeley Community,

Can you believe it – they are reducing science education at Berkeley High School when everyone else, led by President Obama, is going in the other direction?  That’s what the SGC decided last week when they approved the principal’s new plan, written in secrecy and voted in at the same hour it was reviewed.

The plan hid the fact that BHS would get rid of 0 & 7th period science labs for all students e.g. ALL labs at Berkeley High. This money would be allocated to a new made-up term an “equity grant,” a concept invented by the principal. The SGC was asked to choose between science (real classes for real kids) and “equity”  (an undefined idea that will cost half a million dollars of taxpayers’ money.) Well documented research and common sense shows that what struggling students need most are strong experienced teachers teaching solid curriculum. This is not a time to experiment with unsubstantiated untested ideas. There are strong support programs at Berkeley High right now; we should be expanding those instead.

The funds from Berkeley’s BSEP Measure A, your special parcel tax dollars, are currently the only funding given to science labs at Berkeley High. All students take science. Less science instruction will only hurt the kids already struggling with the achievement gap, contrary to what we are all trying to achieve here. The achievement gap cannot shrink with less science instruction. That’s crazy.

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Opinionator

Op-Ed: Science at BHS, an open letter

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Photo/Jeremy Franklin

We wrote last week about the debate over science and the achievement gap at Berkeley High School. There’s a stream of comments on that earlier post that are well worth reading, if you’re concerned about the issue.

Priscilla Myrick, a former Berkeley High School Governance Council parent representative and mother of two BHS graduates, weighs in with an open letter, arguing for the importance of the science labs:

Science education for all Berkeley … Continue reading »

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Schools

Endangered science at BHS

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Berkeley High’s School Governance Council voted this week to approve principal Jim Slemp’s latest proposal for a new schedule at BHS. It now goes to the Berkeley Unified School District (although Slemp claims that the proposal doesn’t need BUSD approval).

The most contentious aspect of the new schedule is the elimination of before- and after-school time for science labs. The extra funding that goes to science will be used instead for unspecified “equity grants”, aimed at … Continue reading »

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