Tag Archives: Rick Ayers

Berkeley author weaves tale of ancient Turkey

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For months he had been haunted by a vision he had while jogging in Tunisia: of a young girl playing backgammon with two older men. The image appeared in an instant during his run, but Lukas spent many months unsuccessfully trying to define the idea. He first set the story in 8th century Damascus, then in Cairo during the reign of the mamluks. Nothing quite worked.

In frustration, Lukas finally put his writing aside and left for Uzbekistan to visit his ex-girlfriend. But when he arrived at Tashkent, he was turned away at the border. His visa hadn’t come through. So Lukas detoured to Turkey, a place he had enjoyed on previous visits.

One day in the fall of 2004, Lukas was wandering through the narrow, crooked streets of  Istanbul’s Cukurcuma district when he entered an antiques store. There, in the back, he stumbled upon a photograph of a girl, around 7 or 8, standing on a chair and leaning against a pillar. Lukas was struck by the look on her face; the girl had a wise, self-assured expression, something rarely seen on such a young child. … Continue reading »

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Schools

BHS science labs not just for the “privileged”

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Amy Hansen is a long time science teacher at Berkeley High School. When she read Rick Ayer’s opinion piece on the science lab controversy, she felt compelled to send a letter to the school board rebutting Ayers’ charges. This is a copy of the letter.

Contrary to Mr. Ayers assertion, it is not a privilege to take challenging college preparatory or Advanced Placement classes. Neither is it true that these classes are for only white students. In Academic Choice, Advanced Biology is taken by 95% of our freshman and enrollment matches the demographics of the school.

It is not a “privilege” for students to expect to be prepared to do college level work. In fact, it is our obligation as teachers to teach the state standards and more. It is, in fact, our solemn duty is to teach all students, those academically prepared and those underprepared.

Mr. Ayers is wrong to say that nothing has changed. In the last six years, Mr. Slemp has instituted four small schools and is about to add another. Mr. Ayers correctly points out that the achievement gap is still there. In fact, it has gotten worse in the last six years. In 2003 28% of African-Americans were proficient in 11th grade English Language Arts but in 2009, it was 14%. Proficiency in chemistry dropped from 20% to 4% during this same period. (As a side note, in 2003 the district dropped double -period science classes.)

Small schools may have been conceived as a way to integrate classes but they in fact are more segregated than the large school. Academic Choice is 24% African-American but  the small school population is 43% African-American. (The total African-American population for the entire school is 28%.)

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Schools

Are Berkeley parents like white Southern racists? Rick Ayers thinks so

Rick Ayers
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Rick Ayers was a well-regarded teacher at Berkeley High for 11 years, instrumental in starting the Community Arts and Sciences (CAS) small school and helping with the school newspaper.

But since his departure, Ayers has taken to criticizing what he considers a dangerous force at Berkeley High: the Parents of Power or the Parents of Privilege, a group he defines as white people with high incomes. The latest salvo: an article on Huffington Post about the science lab … Continue reading »

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