For a record-tying fifth time, the Long Beach Unified School District was honored among America’s top urban school districts today during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
LBUSD was recognized as one of the top five finalists for the national Broad Prize for Urban Education. As a finalist, LBUSD receives $250,000 in college scholarships for local students. The Aldine Independent School District outside Houston won the top prize of $1 million in scholarships.
Long Beach won the award in 2003 and is a five-time finalist. The latest $250,000 award brings the total amount of Broad Scholarships in Long Beach to nearly $1.4 million. Only Boston Public Schools share this five-year track record of excellence. The Broad Prize honors urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in achievement for all students.
“Long Beach continues to be America's crown jewel of urban school districts, outperforming other urban districts year after year with its steady gains," said Eli Broad, founder of the prize. "We look forward to sharing Long Beach's ongoing best practices with school districts across the nation so millions more students benefit from the smart efforts that have arisen there."
Long Beach earned the finalist honor after national education experts sifted through thousands of pieces of data on student performance. Among the reasons Long Beach was selected is that its African-American, Latino and low-income students achieved higher average proficiency rates than their counterparts statewide in reading and math, and because the district continued to narrow achievement gaps that remain prevalent in many other school districts nationwide. Long Beach saw greater participation of minority students taking Advanced Placement exams and the SATs.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the finalists at the U.S. Capitol, where LBUSD Superintendent of Schools Christopher J. Steinhauser participated in the ceremony.
“Being a five-time Broad Prize finalist confirms that the Long Beach community still believes in public education,” Steinhauser said in a written release. “To be in the running again for this award is a testament to our heroic teachers, tireless support staff, administrators, parents, our 9,000 volunteers, our more than 1,100 business and community partners, our school board, our colleagues in higher education, civic leaders, service clubs and philanthropic foundations such as The Broad Foundation, insightful news media, local clergy, Realtors, retirees, and many others who share our commitment to kids and schools,” Steinhauser said. “To all of them, we say thank you.” See the superintendent’s Press-Telegram commentary here.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the audience, saying “this is a great day for public schools and for celebrating your success.” In the audience were several members of Congress along with more than 300 of the nation’s leading educators and policy makers. Among them were members of LBUSD’s school board.
“It’s a proud day for the Long Beach Unified School District,” LBUSD Board of Education President Mary Stanton said in a written statement. “For Americans, education has always been the primary means for obtaining equal opportunity. The Broad Prize recognizes our efforts to give all children an equal chance to succeed, no matter what obstacles they may face.”
The other finalists were school districts in Broward County, Fla.; Gwinnett County, Ga.; and Socorro, Texas.