The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) school board discussed the new Coaching Boys into Men program, Title IX office and the climate literacy resolution at its November 3 meeting.
The public comment section of the meeting was filled with students, parents, teachers and members of the Berkeley community voicing their support for the climate literacy resolution, which was passed unanimously.
The resolution on climate literacy is a pledge to create a climate studies curriculum for BUSD over the next 18 months so that students graduate from high school with a deep understanding of climate change.
The resolution was the last item on the meeting’s agenda and had been discussed at a previous meeting.
BUSD School Board Principal Laura Babitt kicked off the discussion by sharing a video of young students explaining why they think the resolution is important. Babbitt said there was a petition that had obtained 630 signatures calling for the plan to be passed.
A major concern of the board when considering the resolution on climate literacy was funding. BUSD has faced numerous budget cuts this year, and there is currently no specific location from which funding for this plan can come. A focus group will need to look at grants and other resources to find funding. One concern is that to fund this project, budget cuts will have to be made in other places.
“I think this should be one of our top priorities to fund,” said Ty Alper, board member.
Earlier in the meeting, Gabriel Lopez, the director of Coaching Boys into Men, presented the program to the board. Coaching Boys into Men, now called Berkeley Athletics Consent and Empowerment (BACE), is a coaching program that teaches high school athletes to avoid using violence in response to conflict, to have healthy relationships and to understand the culture rape. It focuses on three ideas – power, conflict and consent – which are seen in three consecutive units.
BACE recognizes how important and influential coaches are to young athletes, and as a result, it also teaches coaches how to positively impact their players.
BACE is currently running workshops with the junior varsity and varsity football teams, as well as the three men’s volleyball teams. Lopez said that BACE “offers everyone in [Berkeley High School (BHS)] athletics a safe and collaborative space to learn and express yourself. A central goal and goal of BACE is to understand and critique toxic masculinity and patriarchy, as well as to define and break away from rape culture.
Megan Farrell, who is the Acting Title IX Coordinator for BUSD, and Mary Keating, who is the full-time Title IX Investigator, briefed the BHS Title IX Office Board of Directors.
The Title IX office recently acquired a digital complaints database so that all sexual harassment complaints are recorded digitally for much easier access in the future. Along with the online database, the office allows online-only complaint forms to be submitted and anonymous reporting options to be explored. There have been 16 complaints filed this year. The office classifies these complaints into five categories.
The Title IX office has office hours on Mondays and Fridays, which it hopes to make students better aware of.
A full-time Title IX coordinator will start working on November 29.
Farrell explained how the office responds to complaints. “We try to be responsive because the most important time a Title IX affair comes up, in my opinion, is the next two days. Because that’s when students need our help the most, ”said Farrell.
The council also watched a presentation on ethnic studies.
BUSD is now instituting an ethnic studies program for grades below high school, and BHS Ethnic Studies teacher Hasmig Minassian shared a schedule for the program.
According to Minassian, the ethnic studies program began in 1990, when BHS students demanded that it be a course. Since then, BUSD has been a leader in its teaching of ethnic studies. Teachers also gave examples of how they approach the central class question, “Who am I and how do I fit into this diverse society?” “
The board also observed a minute’s silence for recently deceased supervisor Wilma Chan.
To move forward with the climate resolution, a focus group will be formed to create the curriculum. The council has allocated $ 65,000 for this project. More was to be given for the resolution, but the board does not currently have the funds.
“I just wanted to thank everyone for coming out to support the climate resolution,” Babitt said. “I am definitely in favor of our being able to meet the needs of this generation, [so] they will be better prepared for these issues than my generation, ”Babitt concluded.