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Board of Education attacks Bush legislation

By David Scharfenberg
Friday October 11, 2002


The Board of Education sharply criticized President Bush’s sweeping “No Child Left Behind” legislation, which could lead to a significant shake-up at two Berkeley schools, during its bi-weekly meeting Wednesday night. 

“I’m just appalled,” said board President Shirley Issel, after hearing a staff presentation on the law Bush signed in January. 

Under a provision in the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, schools that do not meet standardized testing goals can eventually face replacement of large portions of staff and even state takeover. 

Two Berkeley elementary schools, Washington and Rosa Parks, are currently in the early phases of the law’s “program improvement” process because they failed to reach targets on California’s Academic Performance Index, or API testing system, for two years in a row. 

The API combines results from a nationwide test, the SAT-9, and the California Standards Test in English Language Arts, tailored to California-specific curriculum standards. 

Washington is in its first year of a four-year improvement process and, as required by law, has put a plan in place which includes increased professional development. 

Rosa Parks is in its second year of the process and must provide struggling students with tutoring and academic enrichment programs this year to help them improve. 

It is possible to be in the second year of the process, even though “No Child Left Behind” is only 10 months old, because the new federal law dovetails with a similar state law that was already in place. 

Carla Bason, manager of state and federal programs for the school district, said she just received a list of acceptable tutoring and enrichment programs for Rosa Parks students last week. She said the list included an after school program that is already up and running at Rosa Parks and several other district schools. 

Rosa Parks parents will have an opportunity to choose the after school program or any other program on the list. 

If Rosa Parks does not meet goals for improved scores, the district will have to pick one of several significant reforms to put in place next year. Replacing large chunks of staff or bringing in new management are two of the possibilities. 

The following year, if targets are still unmet, the possible remedies are more sweeping, including state takeover and contracting with a private management firm. 

The district will get new API scores Oct. 17. If Rosa Parks and Washington meet testing goals, they will stay where they are in the “program improvement” process. Rosa Parks, for instance, would not have to undergo significant reform next year. 

If the schools meet targets two years in a row, they will no longer have to take part in the “program improvement” process. 

“I believe they will make significant headway,” said Superintendent Michele Lawrence, predicting improved scores for Rosa Parks and Washington. 



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