Public Comment

School Board Candidate Statement

By Beatriz Leyva-Cutler
Thursday October 16, 2008 - 10:00:00 AM

For close to 30 years I have worked my way up the ranks from teen youth worker in a child care program in the Mission District to the position that I have held for over 20 years, as Executive Director. I have worked for BAHIA Inc., located in West Berkeley since 1980. This year I celebrate 28 years with the organization. My work most of my adult life has been in Berkeley, and I live within walking distance from my child care center.  

I was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco and attended the public schools from elementary through high school. I attended San Francisco State in 1973 and graduated in 1979 with my Bachelor of Arts in La Raza Studies. I received my Masters of Arts from Pacific Oaks College in 2000 in Human Development with an emphasis on Leadership Development. I received a Community College Instructional Credential in 1985 and have taught in the community college as adjunct faculty in the early childhood department in Los Medanos College, San Francisco City College and Santa Rosa City College and adjunct faculty for Pacific Oaks College. I am a fellow of LeaderSpring, a two-year fellowship program for non-profit executive directors and I am a fellow of Emerge California (class of 2007) which prepares democratic women for political office. I have also received two-day training from Emily’s List. These credentials are what bring me to run for school board, more importantly my work has always been in the non-profit sector and working with children.  

If elected, my goals and priorities in office will be to implement the 2020 Vision that was jointly signed on to by the Berkeley School Board and the City of Berkeley. I see my primary role as an elected board member to address the issues of equity in education while also assuring quality education in our schools. I will work to develop the All City-Wide Equity Taskforce and create a blueprint for assuring equity exists throughout all of our Berkeley schools from the child development programs, elementary, middle, high schools and including the adult school. I am committed to the academic success of ALL of Berkeley’s children. To do this requires the willingness to partner, collaborated, ask difficult questions and create space for doing things differently, because the same methods we have implemented in educating children has not worked, so it is time to do something different – and not just in one school – but all schools.  

The 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth outlines eight priorities that will help to address the achievement gap. This vision says that all children, regardless of race, ethnicity and income, who enter Berkeley public schools beginning in 2007 (and remain in the district) will achieve equitable outcomes with no proficiency differences by the time they graduate in June, 2020; and that all children born in Berkeley in 2007 and beyond, receive a healthy start and are equally ready to learn and success in the Berkeley schools. The strategies for moving forward the 2020 Vision include: 1) Plan for Educational Success for All 2) Plan for Healthy Child Development for All; 3) Address Barriers to Learning; 4) Professional Development and Human Resources; 5) Parent/Guardian and Youth Engagement; 6) Community Engagement; 7) Leverage local, state and national public and private resources; 8) Shared Accountability and Measurable Outcomes. These eight points and the 2020 Vision can all be found on the Berkeley Unified School District website and on the City of Berkeley’s website.  

I am fortunate to have the sole endorsement of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers. Teachers have demonstrated with their vote that they see in me as their candidate the one that will address what they too see as a needed priority and where leadership is needed in our district.  

I will continue to create opportunities for dialogue, listening and learning and being open to all possibilities before forming any decisions. I am part of the Futures Committee at Berkeley High School which is creating with teachers, parents, students and administration the plan for advisories, a key component to creating equity in the small schools. I am also for a second year the elected parent representative on the School Governance Council at Berkeley High.  

It is important to note that what distinguishes me from the other candidates is that I am one of the co-founders of United in Action (UIA) a grassroots group that has been active since our inception five years ago in finding ways to address the achievement gap in Berkeley Schools and created the original 2020 Vision Plan that is now endorsed by the city and the school district. UIA is a diverse coalition of whites, black, Latinos and progressive whites/biracial community members that are committed to the academic success of all children. Together with partners such as the community college, the university and the business/family community we will and can develop a city-wide approach to addressing the achievement gap. The responsibility of the achievement gap is not just that of our school district but of our entire city, as we will benefit from an educated work force of young adults and community members in our city and in our nation.  

I am proud of having 28 years devoted to being an educator, building community, managing and administering a non profit, working with teachers and advocating for families. I know city, county and state resources, community leaders and programs that are active in serving the needs of children, families and community on a local, county, statewide and national level. I have been an educator for longer than the candidates – what our school district needs is someone that is an educator and life long advocate of teachers, children, families and youth and knows that Berkeley schools are good, and can be better, vote for Beatriz Leyva-Cutler for Berkeley School Board.