Page One

A Final Review of the Year in Education, By: J. Douglas Allen Taylor

Friday January 06, 2006


Mayor Tom Bates slammed UC Berkeley’s revised Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) and warned that Berkeley would likely resort to a lawsuit if the plan didn’t detail specific projects or exact locations where the university intends to build over the next 15 years. 

A six-month progress report released by the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) on the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) said that the district “continues to make good progress in five operational areas” of education management. 

While BUSD awaited a decision by the Berkeley City Council on whether or not the city will close down a block of Derby Street to build a regulation-size baseball field for the high school, a district-contracted architectural firm moved forward to develop proposals for temporary use of the district-owned property adjoining Berkeley Alternative High School. 



BUSD’s superintendent and board directors blasted Gov. Arnold Schwarz- 

enegger’s education budget cuts, calling on constituents to write protest letters to the governor and legislators, and promising further action. 

The Berkeley Federation of Teachers Union announced what amounted to a work slow-down in response to the district’s latest contract proposal. 

According to a warning by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), all four colleges of the Peralta Community College District were notified that they were in danger of losing their accreditation if deficiencies were not corrected within two years. 

Berkeley filed suit against UC Berkeley, charging that the university’s LRDP violated state law. 



A group of six Oakland residents were arrested in the offices of Randolph Ward, the state school administrator, after demanding a meeting with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell over plans to close adult education in the Oakland Unified School District. 

A deeply-divided BUSD Board of Directors killed a proposal to consider a baseball field for its Derby Street properties. 

BUSD was put on a list of 150 California school districts needing “program improvement.” 

Six months after a hacker broke into a UC Berkeley research computer containing the names and Social Security numbers of more than 600,000 health care workers and patients, the university reported the theft of a laptop containing personal information of nearly 100,000 graduate students. 



Environmental activists and North Berkeley residents told Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory officials to leave intact the unused Bevatron building, which is full of toxic and low-level nuclear wastes, on its present four-acre site atop the Hayward Fault in the Berkeley hills. 

Berkeley teachers took their increasingly rancorous contract dispute back to the BUSD board meeting, filling the Old City Hall Council chambers with union members and supporters chanting “Fair Contract Now!” Teachers began the work slowdown. 

As if ongoing budget and contract problems and the task of hiring 60 new teachers were not enough, BUSD reported that it had to replace five of its 16 school principals and the district director of food services by the end of the summer. 

UC service workers from the system’s nine campuses, five medical facilities and the Lawrence Berkeley Labs held a one-day strike to protest what they said was UC’s disrespect for their jobs and its refusal to bargain in good faith for a new contract. 

UC and the union representing its 7,300 low-wage service workers announced that they had come to a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract after almost 10 months of negotiations. 

Vista College President Judy Walters gave Peralta Community College District Trustees a power-point view of what the college’s new Center Street campus will look like when it opens next fall. 



Berkeley City Council voted to settle the city’s lawsuit against the university under a secret deal brokered between Mayor Tom Bates and UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. 

BUSD reached contract agreements with its teachers, bus drivers, custodians, instructional assistants and office workers. 



With students leading the way, 57 percent of Berkeley Unified’s Jefferson Elementary School community voted to change the name of the school to Sequoia Elementary. Later, the BUSD board voted 3-2 to deny the name change. 

BUSD notified families that it had reached a settlement in a 2004 class action suit filed on behalf of three minority Berkeley students who claimed that their education at Berkeley High was disrupted by improper expulsions. 



With UC Regents preparing to vote on proposed increases in professional degree fees, four UC professional degree students filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco against the regents to prevent those increases. 



The union representing the Peralta College District’s support workers charged that Peralta administrators were setting up a permanent category of “second-class workers” throughout the four-college district by reducing the number of hours temporary workers could work the week. 

Results of the newly released public school test reports showed that BUSD students continue to rank far above state testing scores in the California Standardized Test (STAR) in elementary school, but that advantage tended to evaporate as students entered the higher grades. 

BUSD projected that it would have $346,000 more for the school year than it anticipated when the 2005-06 budget was passed in June, but district officials cautioned that it was not quite time to open up the checkbook for more spending. 



A group of Berkeley citizens filed a lawsuit against the City of Berkeley and several city officials in the California Superior Court in Oakland, asking the court to set aside the city’s settlement agreement with UC over its LRDP because it “contracted away the City Council’s right to independently exercise its police power in the future.” 

In its final six-month progress report on the Berkeley Unified School District, the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) praised the district for making what it called “good progress” in its operational areas, but said that the district “still faces significant fiscal challenges” and cautioned that BUSD “will need to remain vigilant to avoid fiscal insolvency.” 

BUSD got bad news and good news under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, with Rosa Parks Elementary entering the fifth year of low performance “program improvement” status, and John Muir Elementary winning national “Blue Ribbon” honors for program excellence. 



In a sign of increased scrutiny over district operations that began last January when four new board members were elected, the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees announced the hiring of an inspector general to report directly to the board on district operations. 



Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, toured Berkeley’s student-run Edible Garden at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School as part of a week-long tour of the United States, in part devoted to exploring environmental issues, such as organic farming. 

Members of the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees censured fellow trustee Marcie Hodge for “behavior that is out of compliance with the established Peralta Community College District policies” of “civility and mutual respect,” and accusing Hodge of “emotionally violent behavior.” Hodge later escalated her attacks against the district’s Office of International Affairs, with her sister hiring San Francisco Freedom of Information Act attorney Karl Olson to renew a request for an investigative report on the department. 

Labor and student activists held a series of on-campus demonstrations at the UC Berkeley coinciding with the two-day meeting of the UC Regents on the Clark Kerr campus. Regents voted to increase costs by as much as 10 percent and also voted to increase salaries of hundreds of top university administrators by about 3 percent. 



UC Berkeley and UCLA professors called for an investigation into newspaper allegations of hidden university employee compensation practices. The Board of Regents later announced the creation of a permanent Regents’ committee on compensation, initiating an independent audit going back 10 years and releasing the names of business, government, media, and education community members of a task force previously recommended by UC President Robert Dynes to look into the compensation issue. 

Despite neighbor misgivings, UC Berkeley moved forward with plans for a major redevelopment of its Strawberry Creek area football stadium.