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Responding to the challenge

Shirley Dean, Berkeley mayor
Thursday October 17, 2002

To the Editor: 


My opponent, Tom Bates, seems to think that every problem should be met with yet another committee meeting – an approach often used in Sacramento. It is a way of “acting” without really correcting a problem. Mr. Bates is ready to invite big names from Sacramento and Washington D.C. to come and discuss Berkeley schools - though his list of invitees omits mention of Berkeley's Superintendent, School Board or the students themselves. (Forum, October 12-13)  

I do not believe that we need a “summit” with a cast of outsiders to come to Berkeley and tell us how to make changes. What we need to do is roll up our sleeves as a community and start fixing the problems. Some examples come to mind. Parents at Berkeley High approached me and complained that the school's health care clinic had been omitted from the city’s annual budget. The clinic provides important preventive health care and literally saves lives. I went to work, and we restored the clinic's funding. Again, when parents complained to me about violence at Berkeley High School, I went out and helped secure a grant to increase safety on the campus.  

Understanding the need for community members to step up and help our schools, I volunteer every week as a writing coach at Berkeley High. As your mayor, in the next four years, I will work hard to restore excellence in Berkeley's public schools. By law, Berkeley’s schools are independent of the city. Nonetheless, I will continue to work with the School District's Superintendent, Dr. Michelle Lawrence, school board members, parents, teachers, staff and students to provide incentives that attract the best teachers to Berkeley. Working together, we can provide safe and clean school sites and close the achievement gap once and for all. 


Shirley Dean, 

Berkeley mayor