June 9, 2020
A+ News
Student singers from all three BUSD middle schools and Berkeley High School, as well as teachers from all four BUSD choruses, are featured in the video performing "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers. Students had to record themselves singing as many as ten times to create this video, which was produce by music teacher Olesia Gordynsky.
Join in Celebrating the Class of 2020 by Making Noise at 5:20 pm on Friday, June 12! Details below.
Statement from Berkeley Unified School District on Injustice
We deeply feel the injustice of the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Their names are joined with the names of far too many other African American citizens whose lives have been stolen by the blind hatred of racism.

African Americans experience oppression in many ways, and justice comes too often from their own advocacy. Every day Black people experience racism in multiple forms, from the signals about social hierarchies to policies and practices that prevent access in areas like jobs, housing, medical care, legal representation, the vote, and healthy food.

The Black community, communities of color, our city, and our nation are in pain due to the ongoing racism that exists as a daily experience of African Americans. Black people killed at the hands of law enforcement, of whom George Floyd is only the most recent and publicized example, is unacceptable and unbearable.
Protests taking place here in the Bay Area and around the nation reflect anger and outrage of injustice. Most protesters intend to demonstrate peacefully and expect their voices to be heard. To focus more on the disruptors and damage is only a symptom of a much larger issue, and should not be used as the narrative to distract from the injustice that people of color face. We need solutions and a cure to heal our people. 

We are proud of and support our students’ activism and insight, and their viewing themselves and acting as change agents. We see this in student protests, our Black Student Union and Black Studies Department, and the intense desire of our young people to serve as effective allies to their African American classmates. BUSD has a history of elevating student voices as a part of our educational mission. We aspire to listen to and learn from the voices of our African American students. 

We at Berkeley Unified must recognize the role of our own schools and structures in perpetuating this reality.

We will not be silent. We are committed to values and actions which recognize and help end the impact of racism in society and our schools. We recognize that this moment calls for action to eliminate the impact of racism in American policing, and that every institution, including BUSD , must engage in critical reflection about its own ongoing issues with racialized outcomes.

Those of us who are not Black - and especially White people - can commit to do a few things personally to take steps forward:

  • Not be silent.

  • Commit to ongoing self-reflection about anti-Blackness through reading, listening, and courageous conversations with other non-Black people. This recent piece entitled Call It What It Is: Anti-Blackness in the New York Times by kihana miraya ross is a powerful explanation of this phenomenon.
  • Show solidarity with the Black community through activism, donations, and by deliberately elevating Black voices. The Black Lives Matter website has many ways to get involved. 

  • Become informed about systemic racism. Ta-Nahesi Coates’ excellent article in The Atlantic, The Case for Reparations describes how a long series of deliberately racist decisions have led to the current conditions in our society.

  • Learn about the idea of anti-racism and what we can do to change our actions and the institutions we are engaged with. The road to racialized outcomes in our schools and other institutions is made of many small acts that do harm to our African American children, families, and colleagues; and White people’s ability to see, avoid, and challenge these behaviors is important. Ibram X. Kende’s book How to Be An Anti-Racist is an excellent place to start.

  • Talk to our children about racism and the need to end it. For white families, ideas about how to do this are many, and a good place to start is this NPR interview with Jennifer Harvey. 

For Black families, we recognize that this is a period of deep pain. Some resources that center on healing and care for Black families include: 

  • Berkeley’s own Healthy Black Families offers a variety of programs for Black women, including shared experiences with cooking, counseling, and community.

  • This beautiful resource from Teaching Tolerance called Beyond the Golden Rule speaks to the parents of children many ages about how to develop healthy and affirming views about racial identity.

  • Share your story. Write to the Superintendent and School Board members with your family’s story. We can be reached at superintendent@berkeley.net and schoolboard@berkeley.net. We’ll compile these stories to send out to all our district staff.

Black Lives Matter. We stand with our African American students and their families to end racism and build a community that lives in freedom and is committed to justice.
Students and Families Organize Racial Justice Events This Week
There was a large turnout for the June 8 Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School rally.
Strong Turnout for Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School (BAM) Rally
Students, families and teachers gathered at Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School on Monday afternoon, June 8, to show their support for Black Lives Matter. The large group walked from the school up to Shattuck Avenue with their homemade signs and chanted as passing cars honked in support.

Stand with Black Youth
Tuesday, June 9 at 4:00 p.m.
Begins at San Pablo Park
2800 Park St.
Berkeley High School Call to Protest
Walk from San Pablo Park to Berkeley High School. Please wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart.

Kids Bike 4 Racial Justice
Tuesday, June 9 at 5:00 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School
1781 Rose St.
Berkeley middle school students, teachers, parents and friends will ride bikes in support of racial justice and against police brutality. Gather on the blacktop and then bike to City Hall. Face coverings and helmets are required.Please write your messages on your shirts or helmets. Students age 15 and under must ride with an adult. No beginning bikers. More information .
A first-grade student at BAM holds his homemade sign at the June 8 rally.
Berkeley High School Student's Poem Poignantly Captures this Moment
All the world's a gun,
And all the men and women merely shoot innocent people;
They have their clips and their bullets,
And one shot in their time plays many parts,
Their acts being seven ages. At first, the child,
Crying and yelling in their mom's arms.
Then the child grows, with his father in the grave
And shining morning comes, creeping like a bad day
Unwillingly to leave. And then the child,
Sighing like a man, with a gun held at an innocent man
Made to not hurt but kill. Then a little girl,
Full of strange oaths and confused like the war that started,
Jealous in blood sudden and quick in death
Seeking the bubble of safety
Even in the man’s mouth. And then the gun,
In a fair world with good people,
With eyes wide and curious of formal cut,
Full of wise words and modern media;
And so the good man plays the bad man part. The sixth age shifts
Into the family man and his family mourning his death,
With snot on nose and tears on side;
the son is youthful boy well saved, a world too wide
For a black man, and their big booming voice,
Turning again toward childish play, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this sad eventful death,
Is second black lives matter for too many black men and mere end,
Sans guns, sans bullets, sans bad people, sans racism.
- Ella Allard-Chigamba
Meet the Poet
When Berkeley High School CEC teacher Rolando Morales asked students in his Human Literacy class to rewrite the Shakespeare monologue All the World’s a Stage in their own words, he found one student's work stood out. "Ella's piece was more than just relevant; it was revolutionary. She seized the moment and remixed a classic to make it true to our times,” said Mr. Morales. 

Ella Allard-Chigamba is a 10th-grade student at Berkeley High School. In her words: "I enjoy working with kids and reading historical fiction or fiction preferably about black history and police brutality. I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe but moved to the East Bay when I was 6 months old. Being a young, mixed-race female in the United States is a privilege and a curse, so I wrote this piece about how I and so many others who identify as black and/or brown are misread by others. The recent murders of African Americans have deeply angered me, and so I was inspired to give voice to these stories and this pain."
Berkeley High School 10th grade student
Ella Allard-Chigamba wrote All the World's a Gun.
High Turn Out for African American/Black Affinity and Spanish-Speaking Latinx Town Hall Meetings
More than 120 parents/caregivers participated in an affinity town hall for African American/Black families on May 26. In partnership with Parents of Children of African Descent (PCAD), the Town Hall featured Superintendent Stephens, School Board President Judy Appel and Directors Ka’Dijah Brown and Beatriz Leyva-Cutler. BUSD Executive Cabinet members and other key staff also participated.

Superintendent Stephens reviewed planning for Fall 2020 under the assumption that COVID-19 will be present in Berkeley and Distance Learning will form the core of our education program and outlined budget challenges and potential cuts. PCAD representatives asked key questions about Black student performance and outcome and engagement in Distance Learning. Participants also shared thoughts in several ThoughtExchange questions.

More than 145 parents/caregivers joined the May 28 Latinx and Spanish-speaking Town Hall, hearing from Superintendent Stephens, School Board President Judy Appel and Director Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, and BUSD staff. 

Superintendent Stephens presented updates on the budget, summer programs and Fall 2020 planning. He addressed a series of in-depth questions regarding the unique needs of the Latinx and Spanish-speaking community as they move forward in a Distance Learning model. 
Superintendent Stephens discussed Fall 2020 planning at the May 26 African American/Black Affinity Town Hall. .
School Board Director Beatriz Leyva-Cutler spoke at the Spanish-Speaking Latinx Town Hall.
Second African American Town Hall to be Held June 16, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Please join Superintendent Stephens, School Board members and Executive Cabinet and staff members for an African American/Black Town Hall on June 16 at 6:30 pm. 

Superintendent Stephens will share updates on the district's thinking about reductions to the 2020-2021 budget, as well as updates on planning for the Fall of 2020. The Superintendent will share with participants the most recent ideas for these reductions, solicit feedback, and engage in live dialogue with Town Hall participants.

African American/Black Town Hall
Tuesday, June 16 at 6:30 pm
Meet Spoony Malloy; Berkeley Arts Magnet’s Ben Malloy Tackles COVID-19 Concerns and Explains the Importance of Black Lives Matter to Kindergartners
Berkeley Arts Magnet Teacher Ben Malloy has been entertaining, consoling and informing his students in engaging distance learning videos featuring kindergartner and spoon puppet “Spoony Malloy.” Inspired by “Muppet Magic,” a class he took at UC Santa Cruz, Malloy invented Spoony, and constructed him with a spoon, the bulbous end of a champagne cork, the ear from an old stuffed animal, stick-on eyes and Mr Potato Head’s glasses. Spoony displays all the angst, playfulness and COVID-19 uncertainties that any kindergarten student might be experiencing.

In his Spoony Thanks Community Helpers video , Spoony and Mr. Malloy discuss the uneasy feeling kindergartners may be having since school campuses closed due to COVID-19. “When I have sad, or scary, or yucky feelings you know what makes me feel better?” asks Mr. Malloy in the video. “Thinking about all the brave people in our community. All the community helpers who are working so hard to keep us safe and healthy.” Spoony then visits with community helpers including grocery store workers and health care providers, thanking them for helping our community.
In his latest video, Spoony Thinks Black Lives Matter , Spoony and Mr. Malloy discuss recent demonstrations and the Black Lives Matter movement. Spoony learns that we have "more work to do to make sure all of our people can be safe." Mr. Malloy explains the Guiding Principles of Black Lives Matter to Spoony in the video.
Berkeley Arts Magnet's Ben Malloy and his puppet Spoony help kindergartners understand the moment with engaging videos. (Photo: Jim Malloy)
Visit Spoony Malloy's YouTube channel for a full menu of engaging videos.
Community Invited to Class of 2020 June 12 Virtual Graduation; Make Some Noise in Berkeley at 5:20 pm June 12 to Celebrate Graduates!
Please join in celebrating the High School Class of 2020 by viewing the Berkeley Unified School District High School Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony on Friday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m.

Celebrate with Berkeley Unified students, families and staff as more than 800 graduates from the Class of 2020, clad in traditional red and gold caps and gowns, make history in a meaningful and memorable virtual graduation ceremony.

The ceremony will open with speeches from students, staff and guest speakers. Next will be student performances including the BUSD Choir and the BHS Band & Orchestra. This will be followed by a procession of graduate slides showcasing the Class of 2020. The Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation will conclude with a beautifully produced Senior Video.

Use this link to view the graduation ceremony on June 12 at 5:30 pm https://berkeley-hs.stageclip.com/

Our high school graduates can’t have a normal graduation ceremony because of COVID-19, but you can help them feel the support of the Berkeley community by making some noise for them!

Please join in a shout out to the High School Class of 2020. At 5:20 p.m. on Friday, June 12, step outside to clap, ring bells, blow horns, and shout your congratulations to these special graduates for two minutes. Invite friends and community members to participate. The "joyful noise" from the Berkeley Community will help the students of the Class of 2020 feel the neighborhood and city-wide support!

Snap a photo of your family celebrating and post to social media with the hashtags: #BerkeleyUnified #2020Jackets​

Please follow  City of Berkeley Health Officer Orders  while you celebrate.
Maggie Riddle, Executive Director PreK-8 Schools, Retires After 23 Years At BUSD
After 26 years in education, including 23 years of distinguished service to the Berkeley Unified community, Maggie Riddle, Executive Director PreK-8 Schools, has announced her retirement effective July 1, 2020. 
Maggie Riddle began her career as a teacher in Oakland before coming to Berkeley. She devoted ten years to teaching at Jefferson Elementary School and then another seven years as the Principal at Jefferson, before joining the District office for six years, first as Director of Schools, and then as Executive Director of Pre K-8 Schools.

Equity and social justice were an overarching theme throughout her career. “I am most proud of the on-going work I led to improve outcomes for all students, particularly those who historically fell into opportunity gaps,” said Ms. Riddle. “This was my passion in all aspects of my work in BUSD.” As she worked to promote and support excellence in education, Ms. Riddle was known for her focus on dismantling practices that upheld institutional racism, implementing actionable everyday equity strategies, taking on implicit and explicit bias, and working to bring new levels of awareness and cultural competency to BUSD. Ms. Riddle worked with staff to build understanding about the impact of race, language and socio-economic status on education, and the role of institutionalized racism in the marginalization of groups of students. 
Students enthusiastically showing Maggie Riddle their work during a school site visit last year.
Maggie Riddle, seen here with Jefferson students, is known for her work to dismantle institutional racism . (Photo: Mark Coplan)
Events and Meetings Online
School Board Meetings
June 10, 2020, 7:00 pm
June 17, 2020, 7:00 pm

All Board meetings are now held via Zoom. Details on our webpage .

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
P&O Steering Committee Meeting  |   Details >
June 16, 2020  4:00 pm - 5:30 pm 
Zoom Meeting

Class of 2020 Graduation Celebration
Details >
June 12, 2020
5:20 pm - Make noise for the Class of 2020
African American/Black Affinity Town Hall Meeting  |  Details >
June 16, 2020  6:30 pm - 8:00 pm