Apr 2 2016

Report: Board of Education Meeting of March 23

School Board Meeting on March 23, 2016

The Board of Education voted at their bi-monthly regular meeting on March 23 in the Piedmont City Hall to adopt a new math curriculum for Common Core and Integrated Math.  They also approved the Piedmont High School (PHS) Language Department’s request for the level four language classes to be awarded the title of Honors, pending University of California approval.

The Board meeting was called to order by Board President Andrea Swenson, and the Board heard updates from the Association of Piedmont Teachers (APT), represented by Piedmont Middle School (PMS) teacher John White, the Board’s student representative, and Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Randall Booker.

In addition to these updates, two students from PMS Green Team came to the podium to speak in support of a climate action plan.

White attended to support his two students; tell the school board about the student organization Together We Slam’s recent activities; and to fill in for APT head Gabrielle Kashani by giving feedback to the Board from the teachers’ union.

Regarding the math curriculum approval, Superintendent Booker, Dr. Cheryl Wozniak, and some PHS and PMS math teachers including Bill Marthinsen, spoke in favor of approving the new curriculum, from College Preparatory Mathematics, citing the presence of “a lot of intelligence behind it.”

After a presentation and substantial discussion, the Board unanimously voted to approve the new curriculum.

The Board then again heard from Booker, this time accompanied by PHS Principal Brent Daniels and several PHS World Language teachers, in support of approving the language level four classes at PHS to the honors level. The language teachers cited their involvement with the Berkeley World Language Project and examples of the honors level class at other high schools.

PHS seniors Courtney Gao and Ben Fung, taking or having taken AP Mandarin at PHS, argued against Board member Doug Ireland’s concern about the potentially superfluous and stressful nature of the Honors title, who was acknowledging the pre-existing and widely recognized level of difficulty for those classes and wanted to encourage more students to continue with studying world languages for this reason.

After hearing these arguments, the Board decided to approve the item early, and voted unanimously to do so, in order for the PHS administration to request approval from the UC system for next year’s classes.

The Board acknowledged a newly-published “frequently asked questions” document in response to mass interest about the Facilities Master Plan for the District.  The meeting was concluded by recognizing several community members and events.

by Ben Fung, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 

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