Berkeley School Board Reaffirms Commitment to Integration

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday November 07, 2006

The Berkeley school board passed a resolution last week supporting Brown v. Board of Education and the Seattle, Wash., and Louisville, Ky., public school integration plans, both of which have been challenged by Sacramento-based non-profit Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF). 

PLF also sued BUSD for the second time in October for allegedly violating California’s Proposition 209 by racially discriminating among students during placements at elementary schools and at programs at Berkeley High. 

The board maintained in its resolution that BUSD would “continue to support, defend, and affirm the fundamental right, legality, and morality of school integration.” 

The resolution also supports the Dec. 4, 2006, march in Washington (when the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to start hearing the Seattle and Louisville cases). These cases could make it more difficult to maintain desegregated and diverse schools and programs in Berkeley as well as the rest of the United States.  

The Berkeley board on Wednesday also approved an out-of-state travel request for B-Tech (Berkeley Technology Academy) which would allow 16 students to participate in the 18th Annual Fall Black College Tour, scheduled to take place in Alabama and Georgia from Nov. 15 to 19, 2006. 

Organized by Della Tours, the tour includes visits to five colleges in the South: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia; Oakland College in Huntsville, Alabama; and Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama. Students will also attend the Alabama A&M University vs. Prairie View A&M University football game. 

The trip is a major step towards changing the culture at B-Tech and will help to turn the possibility of attending college into a reality, administrators say. B-Tech students are currently tutoring with the intention of preparing for the Scholastic Aptitude Test and college. Twenty B-Tech students have registered for the Preliminary SAT and SAT tests this month.  

Some of the requirements for attending this tour include at least 80 percent attendance with no unexcused absences, no referrals or suspensions, a 2.5 or higher G.P.A. and registration for the SAT. 

The cost of the tour is $985 per student and the cost of the total event is $15,760.  

B-Tech students have raised $5,600 through fundraising activities, which have included a car wash, a raffle and a student store, and the school is continuing to accept funds from the local community. The Berkeley Public Education Foundation has also approved a grant for $6,500 and principal Victor Diaz has contributed $1,000. No student will be denied access to the tour because of lack of funds.