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Whither Berkeley High? An Interview with the New Principal, Pasquale Scuderi

By Raymond Barglow,
Tuesday July 20, 2010 - 06:25:00 PM

Like most high schools, Berkeley High shuts down during the summer months. When I walked into the school last week, I found the place eerily quiet. Apart from a small summer school program, the classrooms and corridors are empty. But then I stepped into the principal’s office, discovering a beehive of intense activity there. The brand new principal, Pasquale Scuderi, is already at his post, preparing for the coming year, which will mark a major transition in the history of the school.

Especially in an era of economic crisis, the high school faces enormous challenges. Can resources be found to meet the needs of all the students, numbering about 3400, widely diverse in their family backgrounds, their motivations to learn, and their capacities to do high-school level work? Is there any way to assure educational coherence and quality, given that the high school is divided into six “small learning communities,” each with its own curriculum, employing its own pedagogy, and hungry for scarce resources?

These are among the questions that will face the school administration and the newly constituted School Site Council in the fall. I stepped into the new principal’s office and we spoke for an hour. Here is our interview, somewhat abridged for the sake of clarity.


Question. How’s it going so far?  

Having been here as a vice-principal and having seen the school also from a different point of view [Scuderi was previously BUSD human resources director], I knew exactly what I was getting into. Despite that, it still strikes me every morning so far, two weeks in, how large and complex and dynamic, and how many different interests and different groups of folks make up this community. So managing relationships with all those people and meeting people’s needs has already shown itself to be challenging. I’m flying here right now with limited staff, and my direct clerical support is out of the office. I suppose I could run and hide until August 2, which is when my administrators come back, but you’ve got to get a jump on things and that’s why we’re here now. 

Question about economic crisis. If state funding for the high school continues to decline, and costs (staff salaries, health care and pensions, infrastructure, school supplies, etc.) stay the same or rise, what can be done to maintain quality education and quality of life for staff?  

Managing a school program in the current economic climate is even more difficult to do. The positive is that if you’re in my position or you work in public education in Berkeley, and you know people in other districts, you realize that we’ve been fairly insulated by a community that has contributed significantly through their tax dollars at the ballot box to make sure that we have supplemental funding. We rely a lot on the local parcel tax and local measures for the programs we have that other folks don’t have. I’m not saying that we don’t have challenges, I’m saying when you look at a district like LA Unified which canceled all its summer programs, or Mt. Diablo that is taking massive cuts to arts and music programs and that laid off 400 people, we haven’t been hit in that kind of way yet. 

I’ve been in human resources for the past two years, and we didn’t hand out layoff notices to certificated employees this year, and in the previous year we were able to rescind those notices, and that is due almost entirely to local support. 

That said, people say that the storm still is coming, that federal monies are going away, that we’re going to be looking at an even tighter and more challenging environment. My fear for us is that the work that’s been done at this school, towards personalizing this large and complex organization – we could see those things go away, with increased class sizes, leaving less room for the programs that are currently paid for by local support. I think that if we have to continue to rely on local support to bring down class sizes, that is going to take that money away from supplemental programs.  

Question about influencing federal/state policy. Is there some way (along the lines of the march in Sacramento this past April, or other forms of action) that school communities can affect federal/state/local priorities and policy-making to protect education?  

This probably sounds like old hat but it’s proven and true: parents on the phone talking to their local legislators, their assembly people , their congressional representatives – pressure needs to be put on legislators on a very local level. As for district employees, we’ve seen some very good things happen here in our district. The Berkeley Federation of Teachers is headed up by one of the smartest, toughest professionals I know who is also a school parent. In addition to being calm and smart and fair, Cathy [Campbell] is also an expert organizer and I think BFT has used their organizing prowess in a very commendable way to get people and teachers up to the capital. Administrators I think could do a bit more, as far as making their voices heard through their professional organizations. There is a state association for school administrators that has been working hand in hand with the union. It’s that rare opportunity for agreement among all of us involved in the education process. I would encourage administrators to make their views know in that way. 

Continuing to use those existing channels is good, as is keeping our parent communities really informed. I think that we as educators who probably pay closer attention to the inner workings of the education infrastructure and bureaucracy have a responsibility to make sure the communities we serve have access to that information, have an understanding of what’s going on, so that they can advocate for the programs that directly impact their lives. I can’t think of another place where government more intimately interfaces with families than the school system, and so I would absolutely be in favor of us providing all the information necessary for parents to become advocates in this debate. 

Question. Do you aim to hire more teachers of color?  

Hiring teachers of color has been and always will be a priority. We have very high standards for the caliber of professionals that we hire. We also want our staff to be reflective of our student body. There’s huge value in having students learn from people who share their experiences, be they cultural, ethnic, or racial. The challenge has always been that the credential programs out there — and when I was in human resources we were working on this as a staff – did not have the diversity in their enrollments that would have helped us make the type of mass recruitment that would really influence a change in the number of teachers of color that we hired. So what we’ve started doing [in human resources] is making contact with people as undergraduates, young people who are still considering moving into the teaching profession -- trying to make inroads with them and influence them to choose teaching as a career choice. What I would like to do here too is use some of the classified positions that we have, some of the instructional assistant positions, some of the instructional specialist positions, people who work as tutors in our after school program, to find college students, young folks of color who would probably be interested in teaching, and get them connected to our school before they are even certified –up at Cal, for example -- and then I think that gives us a leg up for recruitment because hopefully by the time they are certified we have already got a relationship, a pleasant professional relationship with them that would make us more appealing. So it is definitely a priority. I also find that some of our best hires have come from just relying on our own staff, and networking, finding out who’s out there. I’m all for having a formal process but sometimes, like in any sector or business, it is networking and relationships, and we’ve pulled in some pretty good hires who were staff recommendations or staff referrals and we’ll continue to work that in too. 

Question about the achievement gap. What can and should be done to close the gap between high-performing and struggling students?  

I’ve been in public education for over ten years now, and I’ve sat in on endless meetings and endless discussions, a surplus of events that talk about closing the achievement gap, and I think this school is pretty on board with having the narrowing of that gap be a priority. What I would like to do is set a tone here that makes the addressing of that gap a little more actionable. In other words rather than spending time crafting another plan on how we’re going to do this, I would like to see that just become a very detailed part of the discussion about instructional practices within our small school and program team meetings. What I’m going to be looking for when I go into classrooms is whether or not those black and brown students who are most adversely affected by that achievement gap are in class and actively engaged in the lesson. I think you have to start with whether or not what you’re doing is even grabbing a child’s attention, whatever their background, their challenges or academic deficits. I think that a lot of it has to do with teachers being cognizant of themselves not just as information delivery systems but as creative professionals. There is an outmoded style of teaching that has historically failed with certain segments of our community and is probably not all that effective with our community as a whole. If teachers are coming to work thinking that they’re going to close the gap with just straight information delivery – I’m going to assign something and you’re going to do the exercises and we’re going to take the test at the end of the week – I don’t think that’s the way we pull those kids in. I think teachers and administrators really have to understand that our job is not just information delivery, but it’s partly performance, it’s partly a sales pitch, and it’s partly a facilitative job, getting kids involved in conversation, allowing kids to collaborate, to discover ideas and concepts on their own. Good teaching is a multi-layered endeavor that requires a level of thinking that goes beyond what the pay scale of the average teacher would imply about what they’re supposed to do. To have a classroom in which you are truly differentiating instruction and laying things out in a way that all kids can actually grasp it, takes hours and hours and hours of thought and preparation. So we’re going to be supportive however we can for teachers to continue to develop that skill. We have people here now who are closing that gap. When we look at attendance rates, when we look at drop out rates, when we look at matriculation to college – these are victories that don’t get talked about as much because people want to define performance exclusively by the measure of one or two standardized tests. That is certainly valuable data and worthwhile information, but I think there are lot of things that are happening already that are positive, that we don’t talk about a lot. 

Question. Do you support teacher collaboration to improve the quality of teaching? In the spring of this year, an excellent biology teacher who headed up a collaboration project to improve teaching in her department was dismissed, under controversial circumstances. How can such collaboration be supported?  

I’m not familiar with that collaborative effort, though I’m generally in favor of teachers putting their heads together and improving their practices. That’s essential. I think teachers who work in isolation are doomed to failure. I don’t believe that you can get coaching or advice that is more practical or applicable from an administrator that is half as good as what you can get from a peer; I think that’s a totally different experience. As for the matter of the science teacher being dismissed, I certainly don’t know the particulars. 

Question. Under your administration, how will teachers be evaluated?  

My decision or my team’s decision to non-reelect an employee will be based entirely on performance, not only taking the guidelines that are outlined by the California standards for the teaching profession, which we rely on as a framework with which to look at teaching, but [using] broad categories for evaluating teachers. This sounds kind of funny, but I heard this recently, from a very successful principal from DC who said, “You have two choices: you can be an exemplary teacher here or you can be working toward being an exemplary teacher. And if you’re not interested in fitting into one of those categories, this is probably not the place to work.” With that as a starting point, I would say specifically the things I’ll look for are: can I see that you are striving to improve your practice?  

Will you visit the classroom?  

I will be hyper-present. Kids need to see that and it’s a school culture issue as well. The more I am in class rooms, the more that will normalize my presence and give me a more genuine sense of what’s going on. If the principal pops in once a year, that sort of changes the dynamics in the room. I think that if kids get used to seeing me, moving through the classrooms, even for just little walkthroughs or snapshots, they become more acclimated to that, and I think that benefits me in the sense that I get a more genuine read on what’s going on in the classroom.  

Back to the issue specifically of how we’re going to engage, I need to see evidence that a teacher is striving to make their practice effective. In other words if I drop by your class once and what you’re doing appears not to be working – two weeks later if I come back and you’re doing the same thing, my question would be, how have you shaken this up? Have you given any thought, have you talked with any peers about maybe altering how you’re doing, how you’re delivering this reading curriculum or this proof in mathematics or whether or not this particular progression of movements in dance class is working? Those are the kinds of questions I would ask. I want to see people who are experimenting, building quality relationships. I have to see that teachers have found a way to connect with their kids. I don’t believe that in a high school – maybe this works under some circumstances in a university, but not in a high school – you have very good odds of kids learning from a teacher they don’t either respect or enjoy being around. So there is, I think, an obligation for teachers to find a way to connect with kids. That’s not always easy and I’m not simplifying that – saying that everybody is going to love everybody -- it’s going to take some work. But I need to see that kids have a sense that teachers have a genuine interest in their success and are not just there throwing concepts at them. 

And organization counts too. When I walk into a class room and the place is physically in disarray, I get no sense that what a teacher is teaching is pre-planned, that’s a problem. There’s a lot of times in my experience when I drop into a classroom where it seems like an evening at the improv, and that won’t work for me either. My talking with kids is also important. Not that kids are going to be formal evaluators, but I should be able to ask a kid in a class at any time, what are you learning, why are you learning it, and how are you going to use it or what are going to do with it. That is my simplified barometer for how I can tell whether or not a kid is a) interested in what they’re learning and b) making sense of it. 

Question about values and politics. How politicized should school programs be? Is it appropriate for the school to teach “social justice” or “environmental values,” for example?  

I think a school has a responsibility to bring to the forefront of the classroom the issues of the day, concerns over the environment, concerns about all types of justice are certainly relevant and worthy, if not essential topics that kids should be exposed to and allowed to discuss. I think perspectives on the environment are critical, perspectives on justice are critical. Now, do I feel that teachers should use their classrooms as pulpits from which to proselytize? No, I think its OK for teachers to express themselves in their classes, but I think it’s important to draw a clear distinction. When I was a teacher I would often infuse my own opinion into the discussion, but I was very, very careful to quality that as my opinion, and not as a given or a fact. I also took on the responsibility to make sure that multiple perspectives were put out there. So I think concepts of social justice and of environmental issues are essential, but I think it’s our job to genuinely teach and not preach, and to create thinkers, not disciples. 

Question about the six small learning communities (small schools). Board policy is that students are to be allowed to change from one small school to another if they choose to do so. But apparently, such transfers have in some or many cases not been allowed. Can you comment on this? What will your policy be?  

The board policy is that after a year in a program, families can re-enter the lottery that places students into the small schools, and, providing that there is room in that small school or program, adhering to the rules of our student placement formula, a student can switch schools. I will not mischaracterize it as a guarantee, but folks have the option of re-entering the lottery at the end of the year and trying to get into another school. You are not stuck. 

Question about school choice. I believe that Board policy is that graduating 8th graders who express a preference for a large school cannot be placed into a small school against their will. Is that your understanding?  

It should be clearly stated that we provide six programmatic options for families. No one is every forced to elect a small school. We ask you to rank Academic Choice and Berkeley International High School -- two larger programs within the school -- one and two because your placement will be there if you do not opt into a small school. I happen to think that there are absolutely wonderful things happening in all of these programs, and that they offer tailored curricular options for people whose interests are in the arts, for people who want to get out into the community a little more – I can tell you several reasons why I think those are great options for any of our kids. But the fact of the matter is that nobody is forced into a small school. Do we want you in the smaller schools? Yes. We want everybody to consider those options. But we are not going to force you into any of them. 

Question. Are resources distributed equitably across the small schools? There have been complaints that class sizes in the large programs are larger than class sizes in the smaller ones. Anything to that? Is attention being given to equitable class sizes within the six schools? What is being done to insure that class sizes between and within the small schools comply with BSEP and other policies?  

Obviously we feel that class size is something that needs to be paid attention to. We have such a complicated schedule here, because you really have different scheduling needs for six different programs that somehow all need to come together. Sometimes issues with class sizes don’t come from an unequal distribution of resources, they come from an immensely byzantine scheduling process that happens every year. I don’t know if people in the community really have a grasp of how mammoth and complex the project of building a master class schedule for this school actually is. It’s a huge undertaking that probably requires more resources than we’re putting towards it, and I’m working on fixing that with the Superintendent right now. We will do whatever we can to maintain equitable class sizes. To the larger question of whether resources are being allocated fairly, we’re not paying anyone any more who works in a small school, we’ve got teachers that I would say are among the best teachers you can find in every one of the programs here. Inevitably when you have a place that that has been divided up the way that we’ve divided this school up, to create more personalization and to allow for a little more creativity, you’re going to have disagreements, and I think that sometimes leads to the perception that someone is being given more than someone else. I’m still digging into that and looking at budgets, but right now I don’t see anything glaring. That’s not to say that I won’t find something that concerns me. 

Question. Is representation on governance bodies allocated equitably among the SLCs? Will representation on the new School Site Council be equitably distributed among all the small schools?  

There was a tremendous amount of community input, both positive and negative, about the pre-existing state of the School Governing Council [SGC] I believe it was at the same meeting where my appointment was approved by the Board, that the Board also approved the new set of bylaws for the School Site Council [which will replace the SGC]. My administrative team and I will be reading those through line by line, come August first, in preparation for elections which will happen early in September.  

Question: Representation on the SGC was deemed by critics to be unbalanced and out of compliance with the state education code. There is a fear that this situation will continue. Will anything change?  

I definitely understand that that was one of the issues. I have to actually read through these rules. I’m in the process of doing that now, before I can comment on whether I feel that what we have now is equitable. There certainly were concerns expressed. I cannot say now whether or not that issue has been remedied. 

Question: Do you agree with the principle that if a larger school has three or four times as many students as a smaller school, it should have representation in proportion to the number of students being served?  

I wouldn’t assume that having proportional representation is necessarily the thing that’s going to solve all of our problems. I understand those concerns. I will say that sometimes – and this is a much bandied-about response – equity sometimes is in fact not the same as equality. So sometimes -- whether it’s a program or body that is there to address issues of student achievement -- sometimes that means giving a little more to some and giving a little less to others. Now I’m not saying that I’m for or against proportional representation, what I would really want to do first is get an idea of what folks feel is not being heard in the absence of that representation. I think that has been partially addressed, partially remedied by the new (site council) rules, but again I don’t know the rules well enough yet to say whether we‘ve got something that everyone will be happy with. 

Question about test scores and program evaluation. Might it be possible to use test score results to evaluate education in the high school overall and to assess how well each of the small schools are teaching their students? SGC parent representative Margit Roos-Collins has suggested that longitudinal data could be used to track a school-wide cohort of students over time. For example, the California Standards Test (CST) scores achieved by eighth graders (which, at this grade-level, are fairly good indicators of student achievement levels) could be compared to their subsequent test scores in high school (PSAT, SAT, ACT, CAHSEE, and STAR) to measure progress. Do you find such an approach promising? Will you support efforts of this kind to measure academic achievement and help assess the educational value of different programs?  

I am sympathetic to that approach, and I’m interested in it. I can’t commit this early on in the game to which specific data sets we’re going to use to determine what success is, but I have a very, very strong interest in having this school become more outcome-based . Education in general, I think, favors the idea of layering programs, whether or not what we doing is really working. I think that sometimes programs that are ineffective become so embedded in the culture of an organization that they end up just becoming habits and nobody asks whether they’re working. We want to make sure we have programs, not habits – that’s one way of putting it.  

But I am very interested in looking at longitudinal data as an indicator of student success. Performance data on standardized tests is definitely a part of that. I also want to look at things that I’ve talked about before: discipline data, attendance data, matriculation rates to 2 and 4 year colleges. All of that stuff is very important to me when we are going to be bold enough to say we’re making determinations about whether or not we’re successful. I do want to find out how well the schools are doing, but I want to make sure that the data points that are being used to define success are comprehensive enough to assess all the work that is being done in the small schools.  

Question. If we down-play the importance of test scores, do we risk giving an easy excuse to teachers whose students are really learning very little? A teacher can say, ”What I teach is not measured by the standardized tests.”  

That is not a particularly persuasive argument. If we had a kid who came to us as an 8th grader and was far below basic in both math and English language arts, but ended up passing the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Examination) in 10 grade, perhaps not with a stunning score, but passing, but also we saw that the same student was also engaged in the school, by noticing that the attendance rates for that student improved, by seeing that that student may have gone on to a junior college rather than drop out of high school, that’s significant. I think that a more comprehensive measure that not only measures performance data but measures the level of engagement a student has with the school community, I think that’s important.  

Kids who have the weakest test scores – this is no stunning statistical revelation -- on average tend to have correlative attendance rates that are awful, so if we make a small performance gain and we see that we’ve engaged them and they’re getting to school more, then we’ve at least pushed them in the direction they need to go.  

Question about different academic standards in the six schools. Do some or all of the smaller four school programs adhere to lower academic standards (e.g. easier grading, less home work, less asked of the students), with the consequence that they are fostering, rather than really addressing and changing, academic under-performance at Berkeley High? I’ve been told that it’s very demoralizing for a student working hard in AC or BIHS to get a solid B grade in a class, when he or she discovers that a peer in the smaller schools is getting easy As. Are there students who are coming to school but scarcely learning anything? What can be done to create a better learning environment at the school?  

Well, the issue you raise is one that is a national debate at the secondary level, both in high school and at the university level, talking about grade inflation, social promotion.  

That has to be looked at on a case by case basis. What I do resent is the implication that some of our programs as a whole are not as rigorous; that I don’t buy. There are different pedagogies, there are different expectations, there are different approaches to learning in all of our programs, but anyone who tells me that small schools are not rigorous hasn’t sat in on Susannah Bell’s class in CPA, hasn’t sat in on Matt Bremer’s math class in CPA, hasn’t watched Amy Crawford teach English in CAS. The notion that our small school teachers do not provide rigor and complexity in their curriculum is something that I completely disagree with.  

Question about safety. A BUSD Healthy Kids Survey 2009 Report indicates that nearly half of the students at Berkeley High do not feel safe at school. Incidents of violence and harassment at and near the school are common. (See the discussion on Berkeley Parents Network: l) What can be done to create a safer environment?  

Safety is a huge issue. We are a downtown school, we are very visible. A lot of schools experience the occasional fight, a lot of students deal with disruptions. We are no different in that sense. Safety is on my short list to maintain and to address right away. I think this place is a much, much safer place than it was 10 years ago. I would largely give credit for that to my predecessor. I am meeting with the Berkeley police department tomorrow to talk about our partnership in making sure that it’s safe. Given our location – and this is not to take the responsibility off of us – safety really is a community concern, we’re located in the heart of downtown and in order to make this as safe a campus as possible, we’ve got to partner with the police department, we’ve got to partner with our parent communities. We have to make sure that our safety officers are out and about. My administrators are going to be expected to be very visible. Safety is obviously a concern, and we want to get student input on that; hopefully we’ll work through our student leadership. My activities director has some very interesting ideas about making student government a forum that actually presents opinion papers and position papers directly to the administrative team, and hopefully we’ll get specifics about those safety concerns through that channel so that we can hear directly from the students. But we’re going to do all the things that are proven that we know make a campus safer: high visibility of our safety personal, high acceptability for our safety personnel, administrators out and about. And we’re going to do the best job we can to make students feel comfortable. 

Question about drug use. According to the same BUSD report, “Twice as many 9th graders reported being high on drugs compared to the state…. BUSD had twice as many reports of being drunk or high on [high] school property than the state and the nation.”  

A BUSD and the City of Berkeley Task Force Report (presented at the BUSD meeting on June 23, 2010) alleges that “During the daily school lunch break, numerous students go across the street to Civic Center Park and indulge in ATOD (alcohol, tobacco, other drugs) use and other negative behaviors. Due to limited police monitoring, school security and availability of other school staff during BHS lunch breaks, students find it easy to ‘get high’ while on lunch break in Civic Center Park.”  

Will you support the recommendations made by the Task Force to address drug use problems in and near the school?  

Honestly I’m not fluent enough with their recommendations yet, though this is something our safety people will be on. My dean of students will be looking at that as well as my counseling staff, to see how those recommendations can be incorporated. Obviously, when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse, we’re doing to take our own steps. I’ve already had a brief discussion with the county Superintendent Sheila Jordan about resources that the county might be able to push in for us to deal with drug and alcohol. Obviously there are things that are not going to be permissible at all on campus, and that will continue to be enforced.  

We are going to keep a closer eye on the Park, and will allow our teachers, through programs like we have in Academic Choice and our social living curriculum, to really explicitly talk and educate kids about what they’re getting into. Kids have had a propensity to alter their consciousness for a long, long time. I don’t know if we as a high school class are going to completely eradicate that curiosity, but what we will do is absolutely make sure as much information as possible, as much clear and detailed information, gets into the hands of kids so that they have an understanding of the risks they’re taking when they’re getting into that stuff. Again, it goes back to visibility. We will consider any perspective or recommendations that come forward from the task force.  

Question about science labs controversy. This past spring, students were apparently not allowed to enroll in the before- and after-school labs; contrary to Board policy, counselors refused to sign them up. Is this what happened?  

My investigation into that matter is that counselors telling students they could not sign up for the labs is absolutely not true. In fact, my predecessor not only encouraged counselors to allow people to sign up for labs, but there was a discussion in the administration team meeting that allowed schedule changes until the last day of school to accommodate those supplemental labs and also allowed science teachers themselves to make course changes or course requests for kids who went to them looking for those lab sections.  

On the science issue, the intent, what was proposed [cutting the labs] was maybe not put out in as clear a manner … it was a move whose underpinnings were certainly not malicious and in fact well-intended, but did in fact polarize folks. I want to get to a place where we as a community can have those difficult conversations when in fact we see a need to push more resources toward kids whose situations are more trying. The one thing that I would say, moving forward – and I hope that our community and our school learn from the controversy over the science labs – it that we all take away from that a willingness to manage dissent and be respectful and civil through whatever conflict we have. Because Lord knows, we won’t agree on everything. I think that if we are in agreement on everything, that is not indicative of a real thoughtful or dynamic learning community. 

Question. Can resources and attention be given to struggling students without taking resources and attention away from students who are higher performing?  

Advocating for equity does often include giving more resources to those who are in need or whose situations are more pressing, than to folks who aren’t. That doesn’t mean that you make those moves in a clumsy or unsophisticated way that jeopardizes kids whom folks see as being taken way from. We need to continue to look at that. I like to put it this way: If you bring me two problems in the morning and one of them is whether a kid is going to graduate or go to jail, and the other dilemma is whether or not a kid is going to get into Dartmouth or Colgate, my priority is going to be on the former. Sometimes, when you’re addressing disparities that are that wide, people have a tendency to think it’s about getting resources pulled from them. Our goal is to make sure that everybody achieves and everybody fulfills their potential to the highest degree possible. Sometimes, if you want to make your community or your team better, it does require an allocation of resources that on paper does not look equal, but in fact is equitable.  

Question about school plan review and evaluation. According to the state education code, the School Plan is supposed to be reviewed and evaluated every year, in order to improve education at the school. But it appears that there has not been an annual review. Will you take steps to see that in this case and others, education code regulations are followed?  

We want to be in compliance as much as possible. Where we haven’t been in compliance, that may have something to do with certain capacity issues. With the school site plan, I won’t be driven to meet those deadlines just because they’re written down in the Ed Code – I think that the school plan and the WASC self-study [which will be conducted at Berkeley High during the coming school year] is actually a document that benefits us, it becomes a blueprint for what we’re doing. In a place this big, it is so easy for the threads to unwind and go in fifty different directions. Having that blueprint, and a written direction for where we’ve decided to put our energy – I see that as helpful, not a hindrance. 

Question about military recruiting. Should it take place on campus? 

My predecessor had an opt-in policy that I believe was fair. With something as sensitive as military recruitment, families should be involved in the decision. And so previously we fulfilled our obligation by notifying families that military recruiters have requested access to them [students], and what we did was allow families to determine whether or not they wanted them to attend those sessions. Which is really not that different from what we would do for any private college, for any public university that wanted to come out and do a presentation, saying hey have your kid come to UC Davis or have your kid come to Hamilton or Barnard. I think it’s a good position and we want to continue to keep families in on this. If the family decides they want their kid to hear military recruiters on campus and to consider that option for their careers, that is a family decision.