Thursday, May 9, 2013

Councilmember talks about violence prevention through education

A Note From Berkeley District 5 Councilmember Laurie Capitelli

Dear Neighbors,
For some months, we have been faced with a seemingly endless barrage of violent images from within our country: a string of senseless mass shootings and most recently the bombing at the Boston Marathon. As parents, as community members, and as Americans we are faced with many questions: what motivates the perpetrators, why do these events happen so frequently and why are we unable to strengthen our laws to prevent more violence in the future (exemplified by the inability for the US Senate to pass some kind of gun control legislation).

Late in April I had the honor of addressing a group of Berkeley citizens actively discussing these questions. Organized by the Congregation Netivot Shalom, the attendees represented many different faiths but shared a common commitment to their community and to positive action in the face of all these questions.

My remarks included a personal anecdote about an old, dear friend. He had been a Richmond police officer for many years and too many times had been a witness to the destructive aftermath of community violence. In response to my frustration over the lack of adequate gun control, he said if people didn’t have guns, they would use knives. If they didn’t have knives, they would use fists. Wherever people don’t have hope there will be violence.

So our challenge as caring community members is to do what we can locally to end the cycle of hopelessness. As we all know, hopelessness can begin in many different ways and at many different times in people’s lives. I believe that ending hopelessness for our kids means, in part, access to a quality education. That includes resources and encouragement from us so they can be ready to learn when they come to school. City officials don’t control the learning environments, but we are definitely key partners in creating a supportive atmosphere with clear expectations.

2020 Vision, a citywide movement to ensure academic success and well-being for all children and youth growing up in Berkeley, has institutionalized that partnership. As an original member of its 0 to 5 years subcommittee since 2008, I have worked very hard to research tangible strategies that will insure that young children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.

My work with Berkeley parents also brought me to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) task force, a City/BUSD collaborative working group. For the past two years I have worked with parents, City and school district staff who are committed to creating an atmosphere where our kids are not only in the classroom but ready to learn once they are there.

As a passionate advocate for public education, I am a firm believer that the key to life-long opportunity is education. And if life-long opportunity is the antidote for hopelessness, we as a community must combat hopelessness by insuring educational support for our kids.

Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Former BHS and B-Tech student, Olajuwon Clayborn, killed over the weekend

Tragically, another teen from our community was shot and killed on Sunday night. Olajuwon Clayborn attended Berkeley High freshman and sophomore years, B-Tech last year and was a senior at Castlemont High in Oakland this year. His friends, family and community mourn for him. There's a nice article sharing some information about Olajuwon and his interests in Berkeleyside.

This is another heartbreaking reminder that we must stop the violence in our community. One way to do that is to follow Pastor Michael McBride of the The Way Christian Center and PICO Lifelines to Healing and Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom, both on University Ave in Berkeley. Both of these faith-based leaders do a lot of work to promote non-violence in Berkeley and beyond (including collaboration with Vice President Joseph Biden).

I encourage you to follow them online and find a way to get involved to help prevent more senseless tragedies like Olajuwon's death.

Pastor McBride on Facebook and Twitter
Rabbi Creditor on Facebook and Twitter

Monday, May 6, 2013

A reminder of where we were 50 years ago...

The 4 minute video below, set to Mavis Staples' "Eyes on the Prize," the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, is filled with equally heart wrenching and inspiring images of the struggles to end racial segregation in this country. We've come so far since some of this - and yet we still have so far to go. Everyday, children and adults in our very own community are violated, threatened, suppressed and silenced because of entrenched racism. Let us watch these four minutes to remind us that 50 short years ago, people faced this overt racism and today, many of these challenges (perhaps manifested in different forms), continue. We owe it to our children and community to change this.

Friday, May 3, 2013

African American Studies Department Spring Production

"CARNIVAL" - Celebrating Our Diversity

BHS African American Studies Department Presents Carnival - A celebration of
our diversity; fusing dance, theater, music, and rap in an exciting evening
of high energy, good fun for the entire family. The performance is a
collaboration with Berkeley High School's great artistic minds (Linda Carr,
Lauren Benjamin, Miss Betty, and Mama Naomi Washington-Diouf) combining
modern, Aztec, hip hop, African, fusion, Praise, Haitian, Persian,  soca and
visuals to help you join the party. So expect to see a carnival happening
with dancers parading down the aisles with masks, bright costumes, stilt
walkers, skaters, and more. Watch students bring the flavor of the marching
band with Southern style stepping.

This event will take place on May 17, 2013 at 7 PM in the Berkeley Community
Theater at 1980 Allston Way @ Martin Luther King in the beautiful City of
Berkeley, CA 94704. Tickets are $12 for reserved; $8 for general; $5 for
students/senior citizens/children. Proceeds from this event will benefit the
African American Studies Department and its dance program.

CARNIVAL tickets are available at, or
at the door.  Tickets are $12 for reserved; $8 for general; $5 for students,
senior citizens, and children. Proceeds will benefit the African Haitian
Dance Program.

BHS teachers ENTER FREE with ID.  Please come and support our students.

This project is supported by the Berkeley School Enrichment Program (BSEP),
Principal Pasquale and the Administrative Team, with in-kind support from
Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, Berkeley Unified School District,
and Berkeley High School

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Julie Sinai appointed as new School Board Director

Last night at a special School Board Meeting, Julie Sinai, former chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates, current director of local government and community relations at UC Berkeley and member of the 2020 Vision design team, was unanimously appointed to the vacant school board seat.

In her application, Julie wrote about her commitment to achieving equity in Berkeley Public Schools, something that I clearly feel needs to be one of our top priorities:

Listening to Julie's 3 minute speech to the board, I was most struck by how incredibly knowledgeable she is about the current strengths, challenges and opportunities facing the district. She mentioned everything from 2020 Vision to the BSEP parcel tax to the new superintendent. Several of the current Board Members commented that given that this is an 18 month appointment, it will be necessary to  have someone with experience of the district, as there isn't time for a steep learning curve.

You can read about last night's meeting on Berkeleyside: Julie Sinai appointed to School Board Post. A video of the meeting should be posted in the next week under "updates" for the May 1 school board meeting here

Congratulations to Julie and to all of the candidates for applying! I found it very humbling to sit in a full audience as 9 very qualified, dedicated individuals spoke to the board about their passions, experience and commitment to the students of Berkeley Unified.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Co-Superintendents Cleveland and Smith to speak at Berkeley Democratic Club Thursday

What are BUSD finances like after five consecutive years of state cuts? Passage of Prop 30?  The "Sequester?"  Is student achievement rising, falling, or stalled? Find out the answers at Thursday's BDC meeting!

Dear Berkeley Democrat, 

This is a brief reminder that you are invited to our May 2 Club meeting featuring an in-depth discussion on the state of BUSD with Co-Superintendents Javetta Cleveland and Neil Smith.
Learn how we can support public education in Berkeley!

The meeting will be at 7 PM on Thursday, May 2 at the Northbrae Community Church. 

Northbrae Community Church
941 The Alameda (at Los Angeles Street)
Berkeley, 94709
See you Thursday!

Democratically yours,
The BDC Board of Directors

Monday, April 29, 2013

Berkeley Public Education Foundation Spring Luncheon!

Please join us!

Have you bought your tickets yet?   

30th Anniversary

Spring Luncheon 

The Annual Community Event that Supports Every  
Public School in Berkeley!

Friday, May 10, 2013
11:00 am - 1:30 pm 
Hs Lordships Restaurant  

Learn More About the Event and Buy Tickets

For more information, call 510-644-6244

or email
logo without BPEF