UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

UC Berkeley teams up for school with early college emphasis

– The University of California, Berkeley, and Aspire Public Schools won approval from the Oakland Unified School District on Wednesday (Feb. 23) to open a co-designed secondary school to help more students prepare for and succeed in college.

Golden Gate Elementary School
Golden Gate Elementary School will become a charter school run by a partnership between UC Berkeley and Aspire Public Schools.

The school will be housed at the current Golden Gate Elementary School site on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland and is expected to open in fall 2005. It will initially serve up to 120 to 160 6th and 7th grade students. Aspire Public Schools is a not-for-profit organization that builds and operates public charter schools in urban areas.

The aim of the secondary school is to improve students' skills and abilities to prepare themselves for the rigors of college, have students take college courses while in high school, develop a smooth transition for students going from high school to college, and improve educational equity.

The model program will offer a blend of Aspire's charter school curriculum, which focuses on rigorous and thoughtful college preparatory education. It also will utilize innovations designed by UC Berkeley faculty as well as their research conducted at the site with graduate students and secondary school faculty, along with parent and community input.

"It is a chance for us to demonstrate that diversity in all of its faces -- racial, linguistic, intellectual, and economic -- provides the right context for preparing high school students for the challenges they will face in the colleges and universities of tomorrow," said P. David Pearson, dean of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education.

Pearson said he envisions the school as a place where future and current teachers and administrators can spend time and learn about innovative approaches to teaching, learning and leadership.

The secondary school will focus primarily on students facing barriers to college-going in the East Bay. Oakland students in the Golden Gate Elementary School attendance area will receive first priority. The school site is a mile and a half from both the Ashby and MacArthur BART stations. It is easily reachable by several AC Transit buses.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the campus," said Genaro Padilla, vice chancellor of student affairs at UC Berkeley. "As a parent, I know how important it is for there to be high expectations and a challenging intellectual environment if we are to be successful in helping students be prepared for a full range of postsecondary options."

"We're thrilled about the charter approval from Oakland Unified and about the partnership with UC Berkeley," said Don Shalvey, chief operating officer of Aspire Public Schools. "By combining the best of UC Berkeley's college leadership with Aspire's successful model of opening high-performing schools that prepare students for college, we have created a win-win situation for students and families."

Robert Knapp, professor of classics and chair of UC Berkeley's Academic Senate, said the project is energizing a multidisciplinary, advisory group of faculty that is concerned about the shortage of school resources and good teachers for children in underserved communities and sensitive to the need for all children to have access to a college-going culture.

Costs of planning and some related programming are covered by a grant of $400,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Gates Foundation funds several early college initiatives across the country, while the Woodrow Wilson foundation focuses on early college partnerships with four-year colleges and universities.

School operations will be financed primarily through normal public school financing, with state and federal funds on a per pupil basis. UC Berkeley will seek funds to support students for college-transitional activities and college courses taken in high school, and for a permanent facility near campus.

Hiring of a principal and teachers will begin soon, and Aspire and UC Berkeley will work together to make selections.

For more information on enrollment, call (510) 251-1660 or e-mail Aspire at info@aspirepublicschools.org.

Aspire will also begin a charter public school for grades K-5 at the same location.
Aspire operates 11 schools in Northern California, three in Oakland: Monarch Academy (K-5), Millsmont Academy (K-8), and Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy (6-12).