Concern for the proposal to eliminate science labs at Berkeley High
Principal Slemp and Members of the Berkeley School Board: Beatriz Leyva-Cutler John T. Selawsky Shirly Issel Karen Hemphill Nancy Riddle
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The proposal to eliminate science labs flies in the face of the BSEP mandate and the 2020 Vision. The science labs during 0 and 7th periods provide weekly enrichment and satisfy UC and CSU requirements that college prep science classes offer 20\% of instructional time for hands-on lab activities. In addition, the extra lab periods provide additional time to support struggling students. The science program meets the goals articulated by both BSEP and the 2020 Vision providing enrichment, support for all students and UC requirements.
The extra time BSEP funding supports allows BHS to maintain an outstanding AP science program. Many of our students take and succeed in three AP level sciences courses as first year courses. Our students performance on the AP exams well exceeds the national average. These courses would have to become 2nd year offerings if the labs were eliminated. Approximately 600 students per year enroll in our AP programs. All of our students take Advanced Biology, most take chemistry, physics, or environmental science or anatomy and the extra time provides the support students need to develop a deep understanding of these topics.
The elimination of these labs would reduce instructional time by more than 21\% (30\% in AP classes). Such devastating cuts would force science teachers to eliminate many of the labs that enrich the experience for students by having them do science. These cuts would result in the reduction in coverage of the state standards and the inability to effectively use instructional strategies that support student learning. This flies in the face of the current push for equity and the 2020 Vision. To close the achievement gap, students require more instruction, not less; more time with qualified instructors, not less.
Science education and the development of scientific literacy is an essential component in todays secondary education. The issues facing our students ( global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer, urban pollution, health issues such as diabetes, cancer, etc.) , require that our students be well- grounded in the underlying science behind these issues.
For many of our students, high school will be the last time they will take a biology or physics course. We cannot afford to short change them in these subjects.