January 22, 2020
A+ News
Welcome back to the Berkeley Unified School District's A+ News!
This publication has been on hiatus amid communications staffing changes, and we're thrilled to be back to share news about our students, staff, schools and programs.
We hope you enjoy catching up with some highlights of recent and upcoming events in this biweekly newsletter. We invite you to follow BUSD on Twitter for timely news, and please check out the BUSD website for in-depth information on many topics.
State of the District Community Meeting Thursday, January 23
The District Office is deep in the work of building the budget and plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Superintendent Dr. Brent Stephens invites you to participate and stay informed as key decisions are made. He will be sharing some of his thoughts about our priorities at the annual community meeting known as the Superintendent’s State of the District.
 
Thursday, January 23
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Martin Luther King Middle School
1781 Rose Street, Berkeley

Read more about the Jan 23 meeting and opportunities for engagement in the District's budget planning process .
Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Brent Stephens will discuss the District's priorities and the budget planning process at the Jan. 23 State of the District community meeting.
Berkeley Arts Magnet Student Activist Displays Her Project at the US Senate Offices
In the midst of the parent-child separations that continue to occur at the US-Mexico border, Kaia Marbin called her friend, Berkeley Arts Magnet 5th grader Lilianne Ellis, to see if she wanted to help her do something about it. The idea was to reach out to detained children in the form of art, letting them know that many American children believe they should not be separated from their families.

The result is the Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful art project. This growing campaign, led by these two student activists, has inspired the creation of more than 43,000 paper butterflies to represent the migrant children in detention in the US. Their hope is to create awareness and inspire action to end child detention. “It made us think of the Monarch butterfly that migrates from Mexico to California, and how they are free,” said Lilianne Ellis, one of the founding members of the Butterfly Effect. “They represent freedom, and that freedom is celebrated every time they migrate. And migration is beautiful.”

“At our first Sunday meeting we met to talk about butterflies, and we landed on the butterfly because we felt that they show that a small change can lead to a bigger change,” mentions Ellis.

What began as a conversation truly did blossom into something special. Lilianne and Kaia started to spread the word about their project and reached out to Favianna Rodriguez, a Bay Area Artist, Activist and Organizer who shared their message to artists in the community. “A lot of people believe in us which is really amazing. They believe in what we are doing, and that we can make a change,” explains Ellis.

US Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon took notice and invited them to display the Butterflies at the Russell Senate Office Building in DC. “We went to Washington DC and displayed 15,000 butterflies in the rotunda of the Senate Office building.” said Ellis. “We also visited Senator’s offices giving them butterflies and telling them our story. We were able to meet Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee and Ayanna Pressley.”

Their story does not stop there. The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful is now planning to go to San Isidro, El Paso and Nogales in the Spring of 2020. “We are trying to put on some concerts and events down there. There are still a bunch of asylum seekers living in tents at the border. We want to bring them resources, supplies and butterflies,” says Ellis. “We may be small, but we have a big voice and we know how to use it.”

To learn more about the Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful visit https://butterflyeffectmigration.org/
 
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and
US Representative Judy Chu acknowledge students Lilianne Ellis and Kaia Marbin
Butterfly Effect members meet with
US Representative Ayanna Pressley
Butterfly Effect members speak before
US Representative Barbara Lee
US Senator Jeff Merkley with students
Kaia Marbin and Lilianne Ellis in front of their display at the Russell Senate Office Building
King STEM Students Engage with Software Security Team
In October, the Martin Luther King Middle School science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) class was invited to attend the annual Security@ conference with a grant from HackerOne paying for transportation, lunch and admission. The Google Android Security team, lead by Adam Bacchus, created a half day curriculum and panel that introduced the entire STEM class to Android security and encryption. The students were thrilled to get their first glimpse into security and “bug bounty” programs which reward the discovery of bugs and vulnerabilities in software programs.


They were also able to listen to and ask questions of a panel of current security advisors and bug bounty hunters, including meeting Tommy DeVoss, a bug bounty hunter who made over a million dollars last year alone. Everyone present was very encouraging, emphasizing the importance of using problem solving skills. The students' enthusiasm was inspiring to the event leaders.
School Board Approves Measures for March 3, 2020 Ballot
At the November 20, 2019 BUSD School Board meeting, the School Board approved three Resolutions to place Measures on the March 3, 2020 ballot .

Measure E: Berkeley Educator Recruitment & Retention Act
This new measure addresses the need to attract and retain the best educators for Berkeley public schools. Currently, BUSD teacher salaries are among the lowest among comparable districts. This measure would bring salaries toward the local average. Funding will also provide programs for recruitment, retention and professional development strategies to address essential staffing needs.

Measure G: Facilities Bond
Continuing the Facilities program funded by bonds in 1992, 2000. and 2010, the new bond will continue funding for safe and modernized school facilities for the next 10 years.


Measure H: Facilities Maintenance and Safety Act of 2020
Continuing the maintenance programs approved in 2000 and 2010 to protect the community investment in high quality school facilities by funding essential repairs and maintenance.
Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival Held Kickoff at Berkeley High School
The 24th annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival kicked off in October with a Berkeley High School (BHS) reading from several renowned poets including Chris Olander, author of River Light ; Ann Fisher-Wirth, A BHS alum and editor of The Ecopoetry Anthology ; and National Book Award winner and author of Someone’s Dead Already , Tongo Eisen-Martin.
 
These poets, brought to BHS by Joyce Jenkins, editor of  The Poetry Flash , were scheduled to read at the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, where students were invited to join them for a walk and the opportunity to visit booths to learn more about booksellers, environmental activists, and musicians.

BHS Graduate Ann Fisher-Wirth shared her experience in a University of Mississippi Prison to College Pipeline program she team teaches to inmates at a Mississippi prison. The program’s aim is to help prisoners earn college credits and begin to change their lives. Characterizing the experience as “amazing, beautiful, and horrifying,” Fisher-Wirth talked about how the work has helped her recognize the humanity in all of us, even prisoners serving long terms at tough prisons. “I know they have grandmas because they write about grandmas,” she told the students. 

“What Berkeley High brings to these poets is a diverse audience,” said BHS teacher Alan Miller. “This audience always has great questions about the earth, the craft of poetry, and environmental activism.”
Berkeley High School’s Alan Miller introduces a poetto students at the October 4 event.
Poet, Director of the Environmental Studies minor at the University of Mississippi, and Prison to College teacher Ann Fisher-Wirth reads to students.
Students listen as poet, educator, and activist Tongo Eisen-Martin performs one of his pieces at BHS.
United Against Hate Week
United Against Hate Week was created to bring communities together to learn how to respond when hate happens and to build the infrastructure to keep it from happening in the first place. BUSD strongly supported United Against Hate Week, with many schools holding events.  
 
Students in Longfellow Middle School's 8th-grade leadership class wrote and performed a play about two students who take the shoes from a third student and taunt him by passing the shoes over his head, while circus music plays in the background. “This scene is run through with no ally, and then again with an ally, to show how one person can stop bullying, and how we can all be united against hate,” said Rosina Keren from the Longfellow Counseling and Positive School Culture Department. 

Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) students enjoyed week-long activities including a Community Breakfast, viewing a video about bullying with a subsequent conversation, an inspirational talk with Bay Area Peacekeepers founder Gonzalo Rucobo. “Coming together as a community helped us all to realize the importance of communicating against hate, whether towards each other or towards other people in the community,” said Sophina Jones, Academic Counselor at BTA.
Longfellow students perform in a student-written play at the school’s “Be an Ally” United Against Hate Week assembly. (photo credit: Mark Coplan)
BTA students pose for a United Against Hate Week group photo. (photo credit: Heidi Weber)
Changing the World,
One Word at a Time
Poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times bestselling author of 33 books, Kwame Alexander, inspired 4th- and 5th-grade students at Thousand Oaks Elementary School. telling them he writes children’s books to “become more human and imagine a better world.” As writers, he told the enthusiastic students, they can “change the world one word at a time.”

His lively nature, quick sense of humor, and spot-on elementary school cultural relevance entertained and engaged students who shouted out words to finish lines in his poems, asked about his favorite Marvel movie ( Black Panther ), and lined up to get their books, sneakers and t-shirts signed by the charismatic author. 
 
Alexander read from his 2019 National Book Award nominated book, The Undefeated.  He asked the students what they thought the book, described as a love letter to black life in the United States, was about. “Slavery!” shouted one student. “Bravery,” added another. Racism, hope, and several other ideas quickly followed. Alexander explained that rhythm helps readers more deeply feel a story and then led students in a lively, rhythmic chant—an ode to hard work and perseverance.

    Dribble, fake, shoot, miss.
    Dribble, fake, shoot, miss.
    Dribble, fake, shoot, miss.
    Dribble, fake, shoot, swish!

Students in both grades received a personal copy of Alexander’s just-released book, The Crossover Graphic Novel , an adaptation of his Newbery Award–winning earlier novel, The Crossover.
Author Kwame Alexander reads to students at Thousand Oaks Elementary School on September 25.
Standing in front of welcome signs they made for the author, Thousand Oaks students compete for a book prize by completing words in a poem.
Teachers got in on the fun, and the competition, during Kwame Alexander’s visit to Thousand Oaks School.
Literacy Coaching Gets a Boost

In October, with the support of BSEP, BUSD, site and PTA funds, the district sent six literacy coaches, and our Director of Professional Development to the Teachers College at Columbia University for an Institute on the Coaching of Writing. Our BUSD Coaches experienced in-classroom models of Professional Development called Megalabs and Labsites in New York City Public Schools that are also using the TCRWP (Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Curriculum).

Upon their return, the coaches are beginning to replicate these in-classroom models for coaching and Professional Development at sites here in Berkeley. Coaches and teachers work with students to practice and sharpen literacy instruction and give one another immediate feedback. Coaches are excited to bring these practices and structures to more classrooms throughout BUSD!
Literacy coaches watch teachers confer with 5th grade students about their writing in a lab classroom at John Muir. (photo credit: Rose James)  
Community Report Available Online
In December, the Berkeley Unified School District Annual Community Report was mailed to all city residents. The purpose of the report is to inform the Berkeley community about District initiatives and the current and prospective use of local taxpayer funding. This year’s report looks at the District’s commitment to excellence, equity, engagement, and enrichment in programs from Pre-K through Adult School. Other topics include BUSD performance statistics, a look at the Berkeley Fire Department’s collaboration with the Career Technical Education (CTE) program at Berkeley High School, and a photographic comparison of a century of gardening and dance programs at BUSD. An online version is available on the district website.
 
This four page Community Report includes a school data report card, stories about school programs, a photographic retrospective of garden and dance programs of a century ago, and a cover letter to residents from Superintendent Stephens.  
Third Grade Classroom Wins Environmental Award
A Berkeley elementary school teacher and her third grade classroom were among just 11 awardees nationwide who were recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency last summer. Oxford Elementary School’s Jacqueline Omania and her zero-waste classroom and eco club were honored with an EPA award for “innovative educators who bring environmental education into their classrooms through hands-on, experiential approaches.”

In Case You Missed It
Little Voices for Big Change in Berkeley

With the right resources, students can turn into our greatest teachers. Meet the driving force behind unprecedented community action against single-use plastic in the US - a class of 3rd graders in Berkeley, California. Watch the video Below!
Upcoming Events and Meetings
Meetings
School Board: January 22, 2020: 7:30 pm
School Board: February 5, 2020: 7:30 pm

All regular Board meetings are held in the Board Room,  1231 Addison St.and are streamed live and archived on the  BUSD YouTube Channel  .


School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC)
Tuesday, January 28
5:00 – 7:00 pm
2020 Bonar St., Room 126


Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) P&O Committee Meeting
Tuesday, January 28
7:00 – 9:30 pm
2020 Bonar St., Room 126
Berkeley Unified School District | 2020 Bonar Street | 510-644-8764 | www.berkeleyschools.net