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Berkeley teachers say they need compensation for ‘extra duty’ of writing college rec letters

College students study the Bancroft Library on the UC Berkeley campus. File photo: Kelly Sullivan Every fall, as hundreds of Berkeley High seniors rush to apply to college, one of the key steps is acquiring a letter of recommendation, or maybe two. Teachers almost always say yes, from 10 to 60 letters each year. But this year, due to a conflict over whether and how Berkeley teachers will be compensated for letters of recommendation, some teachers turned more students who asked away, and at least two teachers turned students away outright. A resolution is now on the horizon, but the conflict left seniors applying to college stressed, parents frustrated and some teachers, who took on additional burden, overworked. “There's definitely students who don't have letters,” said Ian Segall, the student director on the Berkeley school board who has been pushing the district to resolve this problem since the start of the school year in August. “For the early deadlines, the hurt is felt and the impact is felt from failure to address this earlier.” Kori Austera, a math teacher at Berkeley High, agreed to write 20 letters of recommendation this year, the maximum she thought she could do justice to. “I had to say no to some fantastic students who I care deeply,” Austera during public comment during a school board meeting Sept. 7. “We're so proud of our former students who head off to college. Just please remember that behind all those acceptance letters, there […]

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