[FoRK] At least you're not in Berkeley....
Adam L Beberg
beberg at mithral.com
Sun Dec 27 18:27:44 PST 2009
We all know the college is circling a dark abyss of funding and moral
due to the California budget. But looks like the high schools are in on
the action too. Since they cut the number of kids allowed into the
colleges, better cut the number of smart kids down :)
Berkeley High May Cut Out Science Labs
The proposal would trade labs seen as benefiting white students for
resources to help struggling students.
By Eric Klein
Berkeley High School is considering a controversial proposal to
eliminate science labs and the five science teachers who teach them to
free up more resources to help struggling students.
The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved
recently by Berkeley High's School Governance Council, a body of
teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the
structure of the high school to address Berkeley's dismal racial
achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the
state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.
Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance
Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests
that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said
the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources
to underperforming students was virtually unanimous.
Science teachers were understandably horrified by the proposal. "The
majority of the science department believes that this major policy
decision affecting the entire student body, the faculty, and the
community has been made without any notification, without a hearing,"
said Mardi Sicular-Mertens, the senior member of Berkeley High School's
science department, at last week's school board meeting.
Sincular-Mertens, who has taught science at BHS for 24 years, said the
possible cuts will impact her black students as well. She says there are
twelve African-American males in her AP classes and that her four
environmental science classes are 17.5 percent African American and 13.9
percent Latino. "As teachers, we are greatly saddened at the thought of
losing the opportunity to help all of our students master the skills
they need to find satisfaction and success in their education," she told
The full plan to close the racial achievement gap by altering the
structure of the high school is known as the High School Redesign. It
will come before the Berkeley School Board as an information item at its
January 13 meeting. Generally, such agenda items are passed without
debate, but if the school board chooses to play a more direct role in
the High School Redesign, it could bring the item back as an action item
at a future meeting.
School district spokesman Mark Coplan directed inquiries about the
redesign to Richard Ng, the principal's assistant at Berkeley High and
member of the School Governance Council. Ng did not return repeated
calls for comment.
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