After months of wrangling, the Berkeley Unified School District board last Wednesday finally passed a compromise on science labs at Berkeley High. Under the plan, proposed by superintendent Bill Huyett (photo right), AP and IB science labs are preserved, and other science courses will provide optional labs in either 0 or 7th period, as happens this year.

The plan that passed provides 1.4 full-time equivalents (FTEs) for two before or after school labs for AP and IB science courses, and a single FTE for the optional labs for other science courses. The lead teachers in the BHS science department are working to get an honors designation for all students who take these labs, so that students’ increased efforts and understanding are reflected on their transcripts.

There remains some confusion on BHS mailing lists as to the proper procedure for students to sign up for the optional labs. Campaigners for the preservation of the extra labs are encouraging students to go to room G204 after school any day this week to confirm their enrollment.

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. Deirdre: thanks for that report. The three of us who started Berkeleyside all have children at BHS, so we’re acutely conscious of what goes on there. We need more information about what’s happening in the primary and middle schools in Berkeley — from you and others.

    Thanks again.

  2. RE: “There are other things that should be cut way before science labs I believe.” I’d like to note that there ARE very important resources that are being cut around the district. Just as an example: dozens of parents at my BUSD school mobilized around the proposed cut of a half-time teaching position which funds support to classrooms which are above the BSEP class size target. In the past, this FTE has been provided at our school to bring classroom teaching cohorts in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade ‘combination’ classes down to BSEP target size. Despite many emails, a letter signed by dozens of parents, and parent testimony at a BUSD meeting, it appears that this resource will be gone next year. I suspect many BUSD teacher and parent communities are fighting similar battles right now across the district. So yes, the loss of BHS lab resources is tragic, AND all our schools are suffering real losses.

  3. OK – good point, it is better. But to me it’s sort of like saying that cutting off your foot is good because at least we didn’t cut off your leg. There are other things that should be cut way before science labs I believe.

  4. I don’t know in what alternate universe this is considered a success, but here in the 21st century, this is a failure. Labs as optional? Allowing kids to maybe opt in if they make an effort to find out when they are and spend extra time taking them? Really? BHS is preparing its kids for flipping burgers, not college.

  5. Color me unimpressed. Mr. Huyett’s science lab proposal cuts funding by 50% from current levels for science at BHS. This new procedure is cumbersome and most kids are being steered to not sign up for science labs. And guess what? Next year we will hear that there was no demand for science labs after all and they will be eliminated.

    Furthermore, there is no way UC will grant an honors designation for kids taking the science lab option next year. People can see the timeline at the UC doorways website. The school board must review and then approve the curriculum for each class, then it must be submitted to UC and only after UC approves it could the classes possibly receive an honors designation. I really wonder why these science classes with optional lab signups would get an honors designation if it is the same class kids are currently taking with required labs, and they do not have an honors designation.

    This is not a well-planned course of action at all. But it is in keeping with BHS promising all sorts of UC approval for classes that never receive such designation.

  6. Huyett rocks. Problem-solver, budget maestro, been-there-done-that, politically deft, and instinctually collaborative while knowing how to turn off the shit spigot. And it’s about the kids, and lifting all boats. Color me impressed.