How are Berkeley schools for a Black kid - and how is Rosa Parks?


We're a multiracial family with a kid who is Black and Asian and about to make the big decision to move to Berkeley. What are people's experiences of having a Black kid in BUSD?

We're attracted to Rosa Parks elementary and would love to hear more about it, especially since we can't visit:(

Or are there other public elementaries people would recommend for a supportive, fufilling and academically rich environment for a kid, and in particular a kid who is Black?

Lastly, any recs for Mandarin language afterschool programs? Also we saw on the website Rosa Parks has a Chinese before school program??

Thanks so much!

Parent Replies

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This doesn't really answer your main question ... You may know this, but it is a lottery system in Berkeley based on where you live in the city. It is split into three zones, so if you want Rosa Parks, you'd have to live in the Northwest Zone and put RP as #1 on your list . I will say, don't get too attached to any one school. You'd have to find a living situation in that zone, and then put the school as your first choice ... and you may not get it. 70% of families get their first choice. Transferring to a different elementary is also notoriously difficult. That said, I think the elementary schools here are all really good. Because it's zoned and a lottery, they're all pretty equal. My kids went to Jefferson and really thrived, but I've also heard really positive things about Rosa Parks. Definitely do your research, but keep in mind it's all a crapshoot. 

My daughter is Black-white biracial and attended El Cerrito public schools. El Cerrito public schools are actually more diverse than Berkeley. El Cerrito High School is the #4 most diverse high school in California, while Berkeley High is #116. She had a good education and is doing very well in college. There were opportunities for arts and advanced academics throughout elementary, middle and high school. Among the elementary schools, Harding and Fairmont are more diverse than Madera and Kensington. I will note, however, that it seemed my meeting the her teachers (at all school levels) helped her get taken more seriously as a student; I am hoping that is not just because I am white but I suspect in some cases it is. I noticed several talented non-white students who should have been encouraged and given the confidence to take more demanding classes. My daughter learned how to advocate for herself, which I think helped her get additional challenges. One more thing, West Contra Costa does have a Mandarin immersion school,

Since the previous parent mentioned the Mandarin immersion school, I just wanted to weigh in. My kids are black and Asian (not Chinese) and attend the Mandarin school. We love it. Last I checked, the school actually has more black kids than the district at large. And a significant number of mixed black kids. And while most (all?) of the Mandarin teachers are Chinese, many of the non-Mandarin teachers are black. Plus they have enrichment that is intentionally multicultural. West Contra Costa Unified is also increasing its focus on supporting black students (who, frankly, have been underserved). So, I recommend you check it out. I think the last year or two has had a wait list, so it'd be good to reach out before kinder registration/transfer to figure things out.