Malcom X -- Good points: *diversity *strong specialist offering (dance, music, art, gardening) *delivers good help for kids with learning challenges (one-on-one Reading Recovery, afterschool tutors) *strong PTA *nice physical plant *great after-hours offerings (PTA classes, Kids Club through the YMCA) Weak points: *playground bullying sometimes addressed with poor followthrough *limited for the brighter-than-average child: had hoped with all the specialist offering and the *appearance* of learning based (as opposed to rote) curriculum that my kid could stay challenged. He was bored out of his gourd, and worse - started to feel bad about wanting to learn. Just shut right down. He was being asked to tutor his peers, which often led to frank harrassment (''if you don't do my worksheet, I'll stab you with a pencil.'' Did the teacher know about it? Yes. Did she intervene? No. In fact, the response was that our kid had issues about being with other students. It was like blaming the victim!) We tried to work with the staff, principal but it was a lot of talk that boiled down to no action. They'd rather accept out-of-district transfers to a classroom than switch their own kids from classroom to classroom. Since then we moved to a different school and he's doing MUCH better. His interest and curiosity have returned and his self-esteem has improved. That being said, there are some kids that MX is an excellent fit and families have been happy there. That wasn't our experience but it could be yours. Anon Parent of a MUCH happier kid
These alternatives fit these kids better: creative, engaging, and
supportive of learning.
But please remember that our kids are all different with different
needs. While Malcolm X did not work for our child, it has been a
positive place for other kids. Wishing you good luck in finding a
school that inspires your child.
Mom of a much happier, formerly bored kid
My kids have been going to Malcolm for the past 4 years and we've had great experiences. Principal Cheryl Chinn is one of the best administrators I've ever encountered. She encourages parent participation and handles problems immediately. Under her leadership the school has blossomed into a beautiful neighborhood jewel.
Teachers are supported, so staff morale is good. Teachers receive training in a variety of areas which help them develop programs that integrate the arts (performing & visual) into the general curriculum.
Please come check it out for yourself. If you can't make the evening Information Night (or even if you can) you may want to come for a personal tour. Parent volunteers, in conjunction with our Magnet Coordinator, offer tours on Tuesday & Thursday mornings from 8:30 - 11:00 am. You may want to call in advance, 644-6313. Julie
My daughter is in 2nd grade at Malcolm X where she has been since kindergarten. My husband and I looked at both public and private schools when deciding where to send her and she could have attended private school if we had preferred. We visited all four public schools in the Southwest zone, Malcolm, Leconte, Emerson, and John Muir, and ranked them in that order (our opinion of course). We chose Malcolm as having the strongest principal and group of teachers. In addition, we liked the focus on performing arts and music, an emphasis that will be further strengthened as the school is the recipient of a federal magnet grant (yet more $$). Geographically, this choice was irritating given that we live on the hill behind John Muir so Malcolm was the furthest from our house. However, the BUSD provides bus service so that helps a lot.
Now, with over two years of experience, we think it was a good choice as we have been very pleased with our daughter's teachers, with how well she is doing, and with how much she enjoys school. I have spent a fair bit of time learning about the teachers and have concluded that of the 17 teachers there now, all but three are very strong (my own opinion of course). I think that is a good ratio for any school, public or private.
Cheryl Chinn, the principal, is a strong administrator and I give her lots of credit for putting together such a strong group of teachers. All the teachers she has hired since we have been in the school are highly thought of.
Malcolm is in the midst of a $4.5 million renovation and the students are scheduled to move into the the renovated main building after Christmas break. I just toured the re-done building last week and it is beautiful with large, bright classrooms and lots of extras such as a big, luxurious library, an auditorium with new maple flooring and a wonderful stage complete with recessed lighting, an orchestra room and individual music practice rooms, an outdoor amphitheatre, and large a computer lab and art room. The second building will be starting its renovation in January and is supposed to be complete by the start of the next school year. The yard is also being redesigned by the same architechtural firm that designed the yard at Washington school (less concrete, more trees and softscape) and we hope its transformation will start next summer.
Since my only major complaint about Malcolm has been the physical plant and its maintenance, I am especially anxious to see the renovation completed so I can feel good about the look and feel of my child's school.
Overall, our exposure to the public schools in this zone have been quite positive and I urge people living in Southwest Berkeley to visit the public schools before choosing a school. Since we looked three years ago, John Muir has gotten a new principal so the weaknesses we saw when we looked may have been fixed. If you visit Malcolm, you might want to do so in January in order to get to see the what the school will look like post-renovation. I'm happy to answer any other questions about Malcolm if anyone wants to send me an email.
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