I am writing to express my support for the work of the Coalition for Small Schools. Although my older daughter is a ninth grader in Common Ground (which she chose because of her interest in ecology), I had not formed an opinion on the question of transforming Berkeley High as a whole into small schools until I watched the School Board meeting last night on BTV. The presentation of the Coalition impressed me as thoughtful, well-researched, and persuasive. I was dismayed that some members of the Board seemed to dismiss the presentation as an expression of “passion” to be weighed against other expressions of passion. I trust that small schools proposal will be judged on its merits and weighted against other researched and reasoned proposals, if there are any, for achieving equity and excellence at Berkeley High.
Although small schools will not in and of themselves solve the myriad problems of Berkeley High, this movement seems to me to offer our best hope for systemic change that will allow us to move in the direction of providing an excellent education for all of our children. In my experience of living eighteen years in Berkeley, half of them as the mother of children in BUSD schools, such a collaborative effort of parents and teachers reaching across differences of race, socio-economic status, and educational advantage is unique. I would be proud to be part of such a movement, and I tremble to think what will happen if the dream of transformation is deferred yet again.
For what it is worth, I have seen the view from the front of the bus. I am white, highly educated, and middle-class. My children are high achievers and have benefited from the ability of my husband and me to act as effective advocates for their educational needs. They will probably be fine, academically at least, even if BUSD misses this chance to make our schools into laces where all children can get a good education. But Berkeley will not be fine. It will not be the kind of place where my children will want to settle and send their children to school.
Carol S. Lashof