Plan Aims to Prepare City Youth for College

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Members of the community packed a meeting of the Berkeley City Council and Berkeley Unified School District Tuesday, where recommendations to prepare all city high school graduates for college by 2020 were presented.

Coined "2020 Vision For Berkeley's Children and Youth," the plan, sponsored by both the city and school district, aims to close the achievement gap in Berkeley, which is the highest in the state along racial lines, officials said.

Among eight primary goals for the plan are the development of strong academics, good health and family partnerships with school and city services, as well as kindergarten readiness strategies, as stated in the draft.

"Realize that 2020 Vision is a road map," said Michael McBride, a member of the 2020 Vision Planning Team. "It allows us to speak the same theme, to hold each other accountable and know when we don't reach shared standards."

The plan can only be successful through the effective use of city and district resources and if schools within the district share data and strategies, Mayor Tom Bates said at the meeting.

"This is the time for creativity, to figure out how to get more done with less and to do something that's going to turn into actual results," he said.

But community members expressed concerns that the plan would support the implementation of charter schools.

According to Mark Airgood, a member of the BAMN, charter schools, if implemented, would be detrimental to the district's goal of equality.

"There is not one word in the report on the value of segregation," he said. "Instead, there is a veiled charter school proposal that would have Latino and black students isolated and segregated."

But Rebecca Quick, a mother of three students in the district, supports charter schools as a way of keeping the district accountable to individual students.

"No kid should be left behind, but kids that are ahead should not be held back," she said.

Another parent, Scott Blake, said charter schools would allow minority students to escape racist institutions.

"Integration has never been the answer, because racist systems don't allow for equality," he said.


Contact Sarah Springfield at [email protected]

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