Superintendent Huyett and Principal Slemp

Parents attending the open house at Berkeley High School last night were handed a leaflet from “concerned parents and staff” about the science/equity controversy at the school. According to the leaflet, BHS principal Jim Slemp is opposed to the compromise plan suggested by Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett:

Superintendent Huyett has publically [sic] stated his support for extra time for college preparatory science and for AP science courses. However, Principal slemp wants to eliminate this instructional time…

Those of us who are fighting to preserve this extra time for science instruction believe that students can and should make this extra commitment to their education because we believe that more learning is better than less. We believe that African-American and Latino students can master difficult and challenging content. It might post some challenges to get to school early or to stay a bit later, but this extra effort will result in greater readiness for college.

Right now, the funding for the extra instructional time is being considered. But even though the Superintendent wants to find funds to support the extra time, Principal Slemp is refusing to give students the option to sign up for the extra period.

Today, superintendent Huyett has an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about the debate. Nothing specific about the plan is mentioned, but he does write:

Rescheduling the high school science labs to be part of the regular school day is just one small example of curricular change intended to maintain educational excellence and improve education for all students, while balancing our budget (which will suffer, at minimum, cuts of some $2.7 million next year).

Berkeleyside is trying to find out whether Huyett’s compromise plan — which provided extra science labs for “any student who requests it” — is still a viable option.

Catch up on the story so far with Berkeleyside’s coverage or just click the BHS science labs tag:

Endangered science at Berkeley High School [12.11.09]
Science at BHS: An open letter [12.14.09]
Science and equity: BHS parents weigh in [12.16.09]
BHS Board meeting dominated by science issue [12.17.09]
The BHS science flap — the ripples are spreading [12.30.09]
BHS science/equity debate: The latest [1.06.10]
Next on the BHS agenda: Meeting with superintendent [1.11.10]
Listen live now to BHS science flap on KQED [1.13.10]
When Huyett met the BHS PTSA [1.20.10]
L.A. Times reports on BHS science lab issue [1.25.10]
D-Day for BHS science labs? [2.2.10]
Lots of talk, but no action on BHS science classes [2.4.10]
BHS science lab controversy: a parent’s view [2.4.10]
BHS science labs not just for “privileged” [2.11.10]

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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  1. Science IS labs. Labs teach the science. If anything, they should double lab time for all students, in both “hard” and “soft” sciences.

    Very worrisome that a high school principal wouldn’t get this. It undermines his authority as an educator.

  2. Evaluation of principal effectiveness is key to school improvement and student success. This it the time of year when the Supt performs
    performance evaluation of school administrators and makes contract recommendations to the school board. Parents and concerned community members should send letters outlining their experiences and concerns to Supt Huyett and the board regarding the performance of BHS Principal Jim Slemp.

  3. Mr. Huyett writes, “In our work to support high levels of academic achievement for all students, we are guided by research and an unwavering commitment to examine data to support decisions.”

    Available data on the BHS science program demonstrates the success of the program as it is currently configured, whether one analyzes CST proficiency scores or AP test scores. Those same data points demonstrate the failure of the small school programs, yet they continue to receive more money per student than other programs at BHS.

    If BUSD is actually influenced to any degree by data, then Mr. Huyett has no choice but to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to cut small school programs before science labs.

    Eliminating the science labs is budget and ideologically driven, not data driven. BSEP makes the decision on where funding is allocated. In a school district that wants to support academic achievement, surely that funding will go to science labs for the whole school before video techs and drummers for small schools. If BSEP money does not support academic excellence (BSEP stands for Berkeley Schools Excellence Project) then maybe it’s time to get those charges off our property tax bills.