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September, 14 2011

Change in Dates for Open Enrollment for Health Benefits

If you are interested in changing your medical or dental plan you will have an opportunity to do so during open enrollment October 3rd-October 31st. You should receive open enrollment information via postal mail in September. Monthly contribution increases, and plan changes take effect January 1, 2012.

Open Enrollment for BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank Ends October 14th

Joining the BFT Sick Leave Bank is both an investment in case of your own future need, and an exercise in mutual aid, giving practical support to fellow members. When you join you agree to donate one sick leave day per year for three years, and you become eligible for up to 40 days from the Bank if needed. This year’s open enrollment period is September 19th- October 14th. A flier with more details will be delivered to your box this week. See your site rep if you did not receive one, or if you need an enrollment form. If you have enrolled in the past, there is no need to re-enroll. Your BFT Site Rep can tell you if you have already enrolled.

Free BFT T-Shirts For New Members

If you are a teacher new to BUSD, you are automatically a Berkeley Federation of Teachers member. Congratulations! Membership comes with much support and many benefits, including a free, stylish BFT t-shirt. Please contact Tracey at or 549-2307 to order your free t-shirt. There will be many opportunities for you to show solidarity by wearing your t-shirt.

Renewing Your Credential

Your credential is essential to your career! Make sure your certification is current and matches your teaching assignment by logging on to and clicking on “Look Up A Credential”. You can renew your credential online in only a few short minutes. However, please renew at least a month in advance so that the renewal can be processed by CCTC and be valid when the current credential expires.

Are You Being Evaluated this Year? Consider an Alternative Evaluation

Teachers who received a proficient or distinguished rating on their most recent evaluation may opt for alternative evaluation. Teachers may participate in Action Research, Lesson Study or National Board Certification. Talk to your evaluator if you are interested. If you have questions, look for the information being e-mailed to you in September or consult the BFT website at

Berkeley Public Education Foundation 2010-2011 Classroom Grants Deadline

A reminder that the deadline for applications is 5:00 pm on Friday, September 30, 2011. See for more information and to easily apply on-line. Don’t wait until the last day to apply!

Reception for Ralph Fasanella's painting "WELCOME HOME, BOYS"

Fasanella spent his 50-year painting career commemorating labor activism and progressive politics while passionately advocating for racial and gender equality. See his work at a reception Sat. Oct. 1, 2011, 1:00-4:00 @ the African American Museum and Library of Oakland, 659 14th Street. Speakers, including Ishmael Reed and John Russo begin at 2:00. This event is free and open to the public with light refreshments being served and a public library tour to follow.

Tech Tuesdays, 3:40-4:30 at 1720 Oregon Street

Want to make the most of Gmail? The technology department is available to help through the following workshops. (This schedule can also be found in your Gmail inbox.)

Sept 13 & Oct 4 Google Docs - Collaboration is Easy and Secure

One example: Longfellow Middle is creating a Google Doc for each student where they have a group of teachers collaborating to ensure the student's success.

Sept 27 Google Sites - Websites to Share information

Sites are for departments, teachers and others to provide information for students, families and other staff. One example is from Jeff Fillingham-Selk at King Middle.

Free Downtown YMCA One-Week Trial for All BFT Members

All BFT members are eligible for a free one-week trial of the Downtown YMCA September 16th-September 25th. BFT members can also join the Y without paying the $99-$150 enrollment fee during the month of September. For details go to the BFT web site:

Educator Discount for Berkeley Repertory Theatre

All K-12 educators are eligible for discounted tickets at the Berkeley Repertory, with a savings of up to 46% and all the advantages of being subscribers, including priority seating and free ticket exchange For more info go to and click on “For K-12 Educators”.

Remembering Bob Whitlow

Bob Whitlow’s innovative methods, tireless energy and irrepressible good humor inspired learning and delight in thousands of Bay Area schoolchildren since the 1970's. Instead of standardized testing and strict discipline, Whitlow used play and humor as tools in the classroom. He worked on curriculum for teachers, co-authored a book on Mathematics and Language, and traveled a great deal, presenting in workshops all over the country including the annual Asilomar math conference. In 2006, he started teaching 6th grade at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley. His passion for working with kids, teaching and learning was undeniable.

Remembering Retired Teachers: Thomasine Wilson, Deidra Johnson, Jackie White

Thomasine Wilson taught at BHS for over 40 years-her forceful voice was featured in the 1994 PBS documentary about BHS, “School Colors”. Deidra Johnson created an English AP elective at BHS, Patterns in Black Literature, which exposed BHS students to African-American literature and culture. Jackie White was one of the first African-Americans to serve as department head at BHS and was inducted into the BHS Hall of Fame. Each of these fine educators will be greatly missed.

Calendar of Coming Events

 September 15 Middle School Back To School Night
 September 16 - 25 Free admission to Downtown Berkeley YMCA for BFT members
 Sept 19 - Oct 14 Open Enrollment for the BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank
 September 22 High School Back To School Night
 September 30 Last Day to Apply for BPEF Grants
 October 3 Open Enrollment for Medical & Dental Benefits Begins
 October 10 Staff Professional Development Day