Science in BUSD Elementary?

We will soon be enrolling our child in kindergarten and as I've been talking to a few parents, I heard someone mention that there are no science teachers in the elementary schools (!!!). Current parents - is that true? The person had mentioned they had heard that only schools with PTAs that choose to fund a science teacher will get science curriculum. I feel like this has to be false, but wanted to hear it from current parents. If it is true, are parents generally fine with this because the rest of the curriculum makes up for it? I'm not familiar with Common Core, but it looks like it only covers math and literacy. 

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RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

The elementary schools get a dedicated science teacher in 4th and 5th grades. For younger grades, the classroom teachers do the science lessons. My child is in 4th grade, but he definitely did science in earlier years, just not with a dedicated science teacher. I'm pretty sure all of the schools follow the CA curriculum for grade level science-- life cycles, water cycles, etc.

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

I am a current BUSD parent and my kids (1st and 4th) both have science 1x/week with a science teacher. The kindergarteners do science with their classroom teacher and then start science classes with the science teacher in 1st. The kids also have music with a music teacher and gardening with a gardening teacher. I believe this is true across the district. These teachers are not funded by the PTA. (The PTA sometimes funds art and dance teachers.)

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

Every BUSD elementary school's staff list includes a science teacher.  I believe that most science teachers split their time between two schools.  As a Cragmont parent, I can vouch for the fact that kids in at least 3rd, 4th and 5th grade have two weekly sessions with the science teacher.  They also have science with their classroom teacher.  The younger kids may have science with the dedicated science teacher or with their classroom teacher, but they definitely have science instruction.

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

It's true. My kids went to Ruth Acty and they had science once a week when they were older. I *think* it was 3rd-5th grades? And they did a science fair in 4th and 5th grades. They have science every year in middle school and for at least 3 years in high school (4 years isn't required by most colleges). I was fine with it. 

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

Science is generally taught by the classroom teacher in elementary school. You can check out the science content standards for each grade here at cde.ca.gov. My daughter’s teachers did really great hands-on class projects and each student did an individual project as well, even starting in kindergarten.

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

Hi,

When Measure E1 kicked in, teachers in grades 1-3 got extra prep periods because they now have bigger classes (on average 23 vs. 20 previously).  My understanding is that teachers voted at the school level whether they wanted a dedicated science teacher or something else, such as art. I believe that most schools chose dedicated science teacher, but I don't know if it was universal. Our school (Sylvia Mendez) has a dedicated science teacher for grades 1-5 -- grades 1-3 go once a week and grades 4-5 go twice a week (also in combo with farm and garden). Kindergarten teachers do not have a prep period because they have a shorter instructional day, so they are supposed to teach science to their students. I would ask the school your child is enrolled in whether they have a science teacher or not -- or check the PTA website for the school.

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

I don’t know about the rest of the district, but Rosa Parks has a science teacher. I don’t think the kindergarteners have science, but the older kids have class once or twice a week. The teacher is excellent, and my kids love her. She also went way above and beyond during distance learning. I have no idea how it’s funded.

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

Berkeley USD has several sources of income. The state is not obliged to pay for the science teacher, so the school can pay out of their discretionary fund or via PTA or any other way of their choosing. Cragmont has a science teacher, dance teacher, PE teacher, Arts teacher. Just because the state does not specifically provide for a science teacher, does not mean there is no science teacher. In either case, all kids have the same amount of hours spent on science. It is just taught by their regular classroom teacher. The funds situation is fluid and changes year to year, so it is best to ask a specific school for a specific grade.

RE: Science in BUSD Elementary? ()

Great question. It is indeed false that only schools with a PTA-funded science teacher get science curriculum. Any teacher with an elementary credential has gotten training to teach all subjects, including science. In the past few years, CA adopted a framework for teaching science called the NextGen science standards, so if you are looking at Common Core, that may not cover everything. You should look at the NextGen standards as well, to get a sense of what's being taught. There are standards for every grade in K-6.

In terms of science specialist teachers, I can't speak to BUSD in particular, but my kids are in OUSD, and I think it's pretty similar in this regard. I think it's generally correct that most schools don't employ a science specialist to teach the kids; I think this is true around the state and maybe even around the country.

My own kids are now in grades 4 and 7, and their experience with science has varied widely depending on the predilections and skills of their classroom teachers. Honestly, this has been true of every academic discipline. They also attend a school with a science specialist teacher (yes, funded by the PTA), but honestly, that amounts to about 40-50 minutes a week of lab time. I'm not sure that it actually directly benefits the kids' science learning so much as it removes some of the pressure from the classroom teachers to cover everything themselves and makes my kids' school a nicer place to work (hypothetically, happier/better supported teachers = a big benefit to all kids). I look on it as a nice-to-have rather than a if-they-don't-get-this-they-won't-understand-science.

One of my noticings over these years is that a lot of what has kept an interest in science alive for my kids has been things we do outside of school. The pandemic year really showed me clearly how dreary most of the school's science learning is, unfortunately, and made me recommit to just helping my kids continually practice thinking scientifically and continuing to explore science all around us as a family.