Here are some of the letters from current and former BUSD teachers in the recent Election Edition of the Berkeley Times. Click on the letter to read a larger version of it.
There are two school board candidate forums coming up: October 16 at 7-9pm at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church (corner of Catalina and Colusa), and October 28 at 7-8:30pm at King Middle School. Hope to see you there!
The School Board just approved Dr. Evans’ proposal to add a Vice Principal at Malcom X, and the District will post the position tomorrow. This is welcome news for the Malcom X community, and the new administrator will be in place, assuming the search goes well, in a month or so. Stopgap measures make sense in a crisis situation, and the enrollment at Malcom X has reached that point. But the need for stopgap measures indicates a corresponding need for better and more robust long-term planning around issues of enrollment and facilities than has occurred to this point. That long-term planning needs to happen now.
Robert Reich is a hero to many of us in Berkeley for his advocacy on behalf of working Americans. He is also an educator who has written eloquently about the need for our public schools to prepare students for a changing world. He believes that we will eliminate the achievement gap not only when we eliminate racial predictability in test scores, but when we also ensure that all students emerge from their schooling with a love of learning, and the ability to think creatively, collaborate, and apply what they have learned to new contexts.
I am very proud to announce that Professor Reich has endorsed my campaign for school board!
… we need to make sure teachers have time to learn how to teach the new standards, collaborate with colleagues, and evaluate meaningful data that informs their instruction. The New York Times Magazine recently ran a cover story that is worth reading for parents who are concerned about the new “new math” being taught in the Berkeley schools, now that we have adopted the Common Core standards. The article makes a compelling case that new math standards are set up for failure if “teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it.”
There’s a lot to like in the Common Core math standards. They are designed, as the article explains, to enable students to make sense of the mathematical concepts they are learning, not just get answers to problems. If students understand why they are doing what they’re doing, they are much more likely to be able to apply what they’ve learned to a new context, which is the way to demonstrate true mastery of any subject.
As we move forward with the Common Core, we need to have patience with the new standards, which hold great promise. But it is also critical that we ensure our teachers get the resources they need to teach the new standards effectively.
The U.C. student newspaper, The Daily Californian, ran a profile of my school board campaign in today’s paper. I appreciate the kind words in the article from my supporters:
Carrie Wilson, executive director at Mills Teacher Scholars — an organization that helps train teachers — has worked with Alper on the school governance council and commended his ability to recognize the complexity of issues affecting the school community.
“Ty is able to acknowledge that learning is complex, and, therefore, able to push conversations that question, among other things, the use of standardized test to measure student learning,” Wilson said in an email.
Alper is endorsed by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers and the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees.
“I’m personally really excited, because I feel like he is bringing some new ideas and innovation to the conversation around the school board,” said Dana Blanchard, a member of BFT’s executive board. “It’s always a good thing to have fresh voices.”
By the way, I have a special fondness for the Daily Cal because when I worked on the Berkeley High Jacket, we shared a printer with them. The printer was in Fremont, so, on deadline night, if we finished in time, we would bring the hard copy proofs to the Daily Cal offices, and they would drive our pages down to the printer for us.