Chicano courses at BHS

June 2000

I am writing to the BHS community to post not only my complaint but my continued dismay of disregard and undervalued actions of the principal at BHS for Chicano/Latino students. As the end of the year approaches and when students are leaving and parents are thankful the year is finally over, the decision to cut the Chicano/Latino history course and other courses is announced to students and the one Chicana Teacher at BHS! Latino students continually get not only no support from administration in hiring practices of more Chicano/Latino teachers, but no resources for classes and least of all respect.

I distinctly remember Ms. Saunders standing before the Latino families at St. Joseph the worker to promise her support for the Latino students and families at BHS. Well since day go, I have heard no support, seen and experienced a true disregard and disrespect for anything called community or support. Latinos continue to be the least educated minority group in the United States and still schools like BHS that have the potential to motivate, provide resource and support to Chicano/Latino students turns its back the students and closes the door to learning about what at the very least may inspire students to stay in school - learning about the value of their language and culture (finally!)

I hope the school board takes action and reinstates the Chicano/Latino classes at BHS and that Ms. Saunders opens herself up to the dialogue with Chicano/Latino parents and students to hear the where she stands with the community since she has come to Berkeley. I am very disappointed with the lack of support, understanding of Latino students at BHS and I know I am not alone in this.

At next week's school board meeting, Latinos will be present to voice our protest against Ms. Teresa Saunders decision. We will not be silent nor go away silently.

This is not a question of whether your Chicano/Latino or not? it has to do with the few peanuts handed to a community of students to feel part of the mass of students and community at those few important life lines to learning are being taken away from students. Show your support for the students and for a large community of families in Berkeley that do not have access to the technology to be informed via the teens newsletter...write to the board and post your support for the Chicano/Latino classes at BHS. Gracias!

parent of a senior and 4th grader

I'm sorry to hear that a program you highly value is being proposed for a cut. Have you tried (repeatedly) to talk to Ms. Saunders and School Board members directly about it? My experience with the District and the High School is that there is so much going on (daily grind plus crisis, crisis, crisis), that unless a group is persistent about getting what they want, it often won't happen, even if the Board or Principal initially agrees that it's a good idea. Not because any of them have a lack of respect, or lack of interest, or a feeling that something is not important, but just because of the sheer overwhelming nature of events and pressure from other groups in this District to implement THEIR priorities. This is a place where you can't sit back and expect promises or commitments to be followed through on without your active encouragement and support over the long haul. This may be unfortunate, but it seems to be true. Try not to take it personally, because it most likely isn't personal....

I think its a great idea to go to the Board and bring this up. If the program is saved, be sure to bring it up often in the future, as an example of what IS working, or an example of what's not working and needs more attention before it gets to budget cutting time. You may also want to contact our Lieutenant Governor, Cruz Bustamante- he should be made aware of this, and he should press for more money for ethnic studies in all schools. I think it is really important for all kids and adults to learn to be more culturally sensitive and aware.


I want to respond to Beatriz's plea to ask Ms. Saunders to reinstate the Latino/a cousrese at BHS. I agree very strongly that this is an important area of study to have at BHS: for all students to learn the history of our country, and all the issues that surround the Latino/a cultures today, especially in this state where a large number of Latino/as live; these classes are not just for this group of students but for all students; I think it's important to have a separate area of study as well as integrate this history and current social, political, language, arts, etc curriculum into the main body of studies to address the needs of a group of students that on average comparatively don't do as well academically, therefore need support, encouragement, and inspiration to study in high school with evidence and validation that they are cared about

Ms. Saunders, please consider not only for these students themselves the importance and neccesity of continuing the Latino/a studies department, but also for the health of the school. I was horrified to see the Star test results in the spring showing how poorly this school, and school district, addresses the needs of ALL of its students. Thank you for your consideration to go back to making Berkeley High a model for the rest of the country to celebrate the diversity of this area by offering a variety of courses to address the needs of many different students, not leaving out anyone by only offering "mainstream"classes.


July 2000

In response to Lisa's comments in the July 16, 2000 Parents of Teens Newsletter: You will receive in your summer mailing the following list of courses which were not on the original MASTER SCHEDULE SHEET that was sent out with the orange 2000-2001 Schedule Form.

  • History Elective Courses: Chicano/Latinos in Film Fall and Spring Period 3
  • Introduction to C/L History Fall Period 4
  • Contemporary C/L History (P) Spring Period 4
  • English Course: Chicano/Latino Literature (P) Fall and Spring Period 7
  • Other: C/L Academic Orientation Fall and Spring Period 8

The courses with a (P) next to them currently fulfill the requirements for the University system. All may be used to fulfill Berkeley High School graduation requirements. Students will be able to add these courses to their schedule via their counselor in August. Flora Russ -- Berkeley High School