Who art thou?
This site is a voice, an expression, a cry for help; it’s a bullhorn, a soapbox, a town crier; a message board, a newspaper, a bulletin; it’s a relief valve, an alarm clock, a commentary, a diary, an information source, and a second opinion.
On a more basic note, BerkeleyHigh.org is a site devoted to Berkeley High School, of the city of Berkeley, California — a very interesting and very vast school which unfortunately has a few problems.
What kind of problems? Many problems, too many to list here — but the one that’s relevant is that there’s a lack of voice. There’s nobody to talk, to make things known, to shout into the void when things are happening. Well, that’s not quite true. There’s a school newspaper, the Jacket. And it’s surprisingly good. But it has its own limitations, as well: it comes out only every two weeks, so its coverage is limited; it’s constrained by the limitations and responsibilities of any printed publication; and perhaps most importantly, it’s directly tied to the school, which can affect the extent of the Jacket’s speech.
Not to say, necessarily, that the Jacket panders to the school by saying only sweet things; that’s not true. But nevertheless, it’s a fact that there is a link between the school and the paper, and that can create boundaries.
So the paper’s out. What else is there? Not a lot. There’s a “daily bulletin”, which is supplied by the school and comes out (more or less) daily. That’s no good. It talks only about basic announcements, and even misses some of those. There also an official website made by Berkeley High, but both these things are put forth by the school — which, again, does not provide the most objective view.
Strike two. Is there anything else? It doesn’t seem that way. Local papers occasionally cover Berkeley High’s issues, but only on rare instances. Sometimes people will start a leaflet campaign, or write things on the walls, or . . .
That’s why we’re here. In essence, BerkeleyHigh.org was created to provide a voice for the students, for the staff, for the parents, for anybody who needs it — because there isn’t one, and that’s a problem.
What happens when a teacher who has been teaching for 20 years goes ballistic in class? He throws chairs at students, he yells racial slurs, he makes a point of ostentatiously grading everybody an F for the semester, then he punches somebody and storms out.
What happens then?
The students from that class go home, miserable and annoyed. Maybe they call a few friends and tell them about their insane teacher. Possibly they complain to their parents, who express their sympathy but are helpless.
The friends tell their friends. The parents mention it within their circle of acquaintances. Everybody has a good muttering session while they talk about how Berkeley High is going to hell. And then it stops there. Nobody has the power to do anything; indeed, outside of a small group of people, nobody even knows about what happened. The matter ends with everybody unhappy, except maybe the insane teacher, who is undoubtedly off sipping whiskey in the park by now.
Now, rewind that story. Let’s say the students go home — but instead of being voiceless and powerless, they have a resource: a web site.
They write up a description of the day’s events, talking about how the teacher lost it and is unfit to teach. People read this — students read it, teachers read it, parents read it, administrators read it. Now it’s not a personal matter anymore. People know.
And that is the only way change ever happens. Maybe the administrators hear about it, and discipline the teacher. Maybe they hear about it, but don’t care — until the public opinion becomes so strong that they’re forced to.
It’s called free speech, and it’s a wonderful thing.
That is why this site is here.
So we’ve got a daily News section, which is updated frequently with events that are happening around Berkeley High. Anybody and everybody is encouraged to send in notifications of things they want to be publicized. Head by the Frequently Asked Questions page to find out a bit more about the site itself, or check out the Site Overview for descriptions of what ’s what. We’ve also got informational resources for students, parents, and teachers. We’ll post announcements and information sometimes, things that aren’t easy to get other ways. (Maybe they’re only available from the daily bulletin, and you can’t get one; or maybe it’s only posted on the school website, but it’s impossible to find there.)
We have other things, too — and you can find them if you explore a little.
So sit back and enjoy the ride. Berkeley High is huge and unusual, and there are very few places like it in the world. That can be good or bad.
Let’s make it good.