Friday, March 29, 2013

BEARS summer enrichment program for low-income students

The summer months are an opportunity for students to play, explore and rejuvenate. Unfortunately, far too many students fall behind academically in what's often referred to as the "summer slide." Middle class families can often afford to send their children to summer camps and enrichment activities. But, children from lower income backgrounds often don't have access to similar experiences, causing the opportunity gap to widen between school years.

The BEARS summer enrichment program will run this summer, primarily for low-income students. Applications are now available and due May 10. Below is information from LeConte School. You can learn more, including contact information for the program on the Berkeley Public Schools website.


The application for the BEARS Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) is now available. More importantly, it is due May 10th. Since this is a district-wide program, it is important to turn in the forms as soon as possible because spaces are limited. 
The summer school program is primarily for low-income families, but open to others depending on family size and income. The program begins June 24th and ends July 26th, and is offered Monday through Friday from 9am to 4:15pm. Childcare is available in the morning and afternoon. 
If you are interested you should request the application packet from the school or call the BEARS office at 510-644-7770 to find out how you can get one.

Estimados padres de familia,

La solicitud para el Programa de Enriquecimiento del Verano BEARS está ahora disponible. Más importante aún, se debe entregarla para el 10 de mayo. Como se trata de un programa en todo el distrito, es importante entregar los formularios lo antes posible porque los espacios son limitados.

El programa de la escuela del verano es principalmente para familias de bajos ingresos, pero abierto a otros dependiendo del número de personas de la familia e ingresos. El programa comienza el 24 de junio y termina 26 de julio, y se ofrece de lunes a viernes de 9am a 4:15pm. Cuidado de niños está disponible en la mañana y la tarde.

Si usted está interesado debe solicitar el paquete de solicitud de la escuela o llame a la oficina de BEARS al 510-644-7770 para averiguar cómo usted puede conseguir uno.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

African American Boys at Longfellow recognized for their Academic Achievement

A group of African American boys at Longfellow Middle School were recently recognized by the School Board. The self-named group, "Broth-A-Hood" (A for Academics), consists of approximately 45 boys who achieved advanced or proficient on the math or ELA CST in 2012. Below is a short video of them being honored by the Berkeley School Board on March 13. To learn more about the program, read the previous post Longfellow's "Broth-A-Hood" Group to be Recognized by School Board.

Congratulations to all members of the group as well as Principal Patricia Saddler, Vice Principal Chris Harrell, and teacher Tyra Herr.

You can access links to this and other Board Meeting videos at the Board Meeting information page.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

4th grade students speak out on behalf of classmate who's been detained

In an earlier post, I shared information on Rodrigo Guzman, the 4th grader at Jefferson Elementary who is currently being prevented by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement from returning home to Berkeley following a vacation to Mexico with his parents. Mabel Yee and her son, Kyle Kuhawara, who is in Rodrigo's class, attended the school board meeting on Wednesday, March 13 and Yee said the resolution on behalf of Rodrigo and his family passed unanimously.

Yee shared, "Three of Rodrigo's classmates spoke and received a standing ovation from the audience for their powerful, eloquent statements. My son read his letter addressed to President Obama. It's an example of how profoundly our kids are impacted by this, how they're applying what they learn from school about civil rights and also the great writing skills they've learned at Jefferson/BUSD." 

Here is Kyle's powerful letter to President Obama:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Classroom Activities to Commemorate Cesar Chavez

As mentioned in an earlier post, BUSD has named the period March 20-April 23, 2013 as a time to commemorate Cesar Chavez. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate lessons. Below is the trailer for the film The Harvest and accompanying classroom materials.

According to Ecology Center's website, "THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA is the story of the children who work 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week to pick the food that we eat. These children are not toiling in the fields in some far away land. They are working here, in our back yard, in America. Every year more than 400,000 migrant child farmworkers in the US journey from their homes traveling from the scorching sun of the Texas onion fields to the winter snows of the Michigan apple orchards, from the heat of the Florida tomato fields to the damp cherry trees in Oregon. These children are US citizens. The work for justice for farm workers continues!"

Teachers can also download classroom activities for Elementary School or Middle School and High school  7-12 to accompany the film, courtesy of the Ecology Center.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Voices from Berkeley: Sheila Quintana, Principal of B-Tech

"Voices from Berkeley" is a series that occasionally appears on this blog, sharing conversations with leaders and stakeholders in closing the equity gap in our schools. In the following segment, Sheila Quintana shares some of her reflections in her second year as the Principal at Berkeley Techonology Academy (B-Tech), Berkeley's continuation High School for about 115 juniors and seniors.

Watch the video to find out about:
  • Sheila and her background
  • Some of the changes she's implemented at B-Tech to make sure that the students are eligible to attend CSU and UC schools
  • The graduation rate went from 12% to 80% her first year in the role

Thursday, March 14, 2013

4th grader at Jefferson Detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A 4th grader at Jefferson Elementary School, Rodrigo Guzman, was recently detained along with his family, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and prevented from returning home to Berkeley. Rodrigo has been a student in BUSD since kindergarten.

Background on Rodrigo's situation is included in the consent calendar for next week's City Council meeting, item 30:

Rodrigo Javier Diaz Guzman has lived in Berkeley for the past seven years and is a fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary School, a school in the Berkeley Unified School District. Rodrigo’s fourth grade classmates are very upset and confused that their good friend is being prevented from coming home and living a normal life because current US policy lacks compassion and logic in its application to young families living in the United States.
Family members have stated that on January 10, 2103 Rodrigo and his family were detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and prevented from returning to their home in Berkeley, California. His family was returning from a trip to Mexico when they were detained in Houston, Texas. It was discovered that the father’s visa had expired. They have been living in the U.S. since Rodrigo was 2 years old.
ICE then told the Guzman family that they could not return to the U.S. and that they would have to immediately depart back to Mexico. Next, ICE cancelled Rodrigo’s mother, Reyna Diaz Mayida’s visa that had not expired by stamping “cancelled” on her passport and took Rodrigo Javier Diaz Guzman’s visa that was also still valid. They were being denied entrance to the U.S. and would have to wait 5 years to apply for a visa to return. They had to make immediate arrangements to board a plane and return to Mexico. They would not be allowed to return to Berkeley, California to make arrangements to move or store their possessions.
Our community, families and especially his fourth grade classmates are upset. The community is determined to help bring Rodrigo home. The "Bring Rodrigo Home – Kids for Kids" campaign is designed to get Rodrigo home by bringing together local,state and national immigration and civil rights groups to bring attention to Rodrigo's plight and put a "face" to the issue. The campaign will send Jefferson Elementary School children and parents to Washington, D.C. to testify in front of the Senate Judicial Committee or Congressional committee hearings on Immigration to discuss the importance of allowing Rodrigo and his family to return. 

School Board Directors Beatriz Leyva-Cutler and Josh Daniels and City Councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin, and Max Anderson have created separate resolutions to reach out to President Obama and other state and national leaders on behalf of Rogrigo and his family, requesting a "compassionate and logical immigration policy," that will not prevent students from returning home and attending their school.  You may read the full resolution for the school board below.
There is also a Bring Rodrigro Home Facebook page that's been recently started. 

The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission also endorsed the campaign to bring Rodrigo home.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Update on African American Achievement Working Group

As mentioned in earlier posts, there is a working group putting together a plan to accelerate the achievement of African American students in the district.

An update on the group's progress was presented to the school board on February 27. It's very reassuring to watch the School Board's discussion of these findings and next steps, since it's evident what a top priority it is in our district to close the race-based equity gap.   You can watch the full 40 minute discussion here.

Below are some segments taken from pages 39-42 of the February 27 Board Member packet, which you can download on the board information page.

Excerpts of Data Findings

  • African-American females outperform African-American males but not to a significant degree overall. Although over 12% more African-American females graduated in 2010-11 in the State and County than their male counterparts, the difference is less than 5% for Berkeley High School. 
  • Socio-Economic Status for African-Americans is not as big a factor as for students who are not African-American.
  • A parent’s college education is highly correlated with African-American student achievement.
  • In high school, GPA and attendance are highly correlated for African- American students. 
  • Pre-Kindergarten experience had a positive impact on African-American achievement indicating only a small difference between African-American students and their White peers. 
Next Steps: 
The working group is using national research, strategies from higher-performing districts with similar demographics and best practices in BUSD to propose a plan to accelerate the achievement of African American students. This plan will be presented at the School Board meeting on 24. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cesar Chavez Period of Recognition Named by School Board

School Board Director Beatriz Leyva-Cutler is bringing a resolution to the School Board this week to proclaim March 20-April 23 as a Period of Recognition for Cesar Estrada Chavez, the Mexican American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist. March 20, the Spring Equinox, has traditionally marked the beginning of the planting season and April 23 is the anniversary of Chavez's death.

The resolution supports school-based service learning honoring the life and legacy of Chavez, such as curricular resources for teachers, encouraging principals to host school-wide activities and the sponsorship of school-based service learning as an alternative to a school holiday.

You can read the full resolution on pages 12-14 of the Board Packet for 3/3/13 found on the Board Meeting Information Page.

You can learn more about Chavez and local events commemorating him on the Ecology Center website. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Longfellow's "Broth-A-Hood" Group to be recognized by School Board

On Wednesday, the Berkeley School Board will recognize Longfellow Middle School’s “Broth-A-Hood,” a support group for African American young men who are earning good grades and achieving academically. 

Tyra Herr, a teacher at Longfellow, represents the school on the district's equity teacher committee, led by Pamela Harrison-Small, Executive Director of Berkeley Alliance. At Longfellow, Tyra, Principal Patricia Saddler and Vice Principal Chris Harrell have closely examined student achievement data, model programs around the country and strategies for closing the equity gap in our schools. They identified a significant number of African American boys who scored Proficient (at grade level) or Advanced (above grade level) on the English and/or Math CST. Based on research, they've implemented three strategies to work with this group of boys: 

1. Access information on their own performance: Students have been taught how to use Power School, the district data program that allows students and families to view their grades and assignments. This allows the students to access pertinent information without relying on an adult

2. Build a relationship with a caring adult at the school: Each student in the group identified an adult at the school with whom they have a positive relationship and that adult now serves as that student's mentor, checking in throughout the year. 

3. Strengthen their self-advocacy skills: Students in the group are taught how to ask questions and approach their teachers when they're confused or falling behind. 

The school is taking other successful approaches to address the equity gap, such as prioritizing equity work at staff development meetings and addressing the students' social and emotional needs outside of the classroom as a means to improve school culture and decrease the number of disciplinary measures needed.

Principal Saddler commends all of the staff, students and families at Longfellow who are making a commitment to closing the equity gap, acknowledging the dedication and effort from the whole school community.

The full agenda for the School Board meeting can be found on the Board meeting information page. The meeting will be held Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 PM at 2134 MLK, Jr Way. You can watch live on channel 33 or listen on KPFB/FM 89.3. Videos will also be posted online approximately one week after the meeting and can be found under updates on the Board meeting information page.