A Year of Challenges, Successes

Memo to employees from Superintendent Chris Steinhauser

Dear Colleagues,

Despite the state's budget meltdown and a multitude of other challenges, the hard work of our employees and many supporters continues to pay off for students. Consider a few highlights from this school year:

 *The Long Beach Unified School District was named one of the world's top 20 school systems — and one of the top three in the U.S. — in terms of sustained and significant improvements, according to a report described as the most comprehensive analysis of global school system reform ever assembled. The report was released by McKinsey & Company, a trusted advisor and counselor to many of the most influential businesses and institutions in the world.

 *A report from The Broad Foundation showed Long Beach is one of a few large school districts in the U.S. whose students outperform their peers statewide. The report said that Long Beach also is among an even more select group of school systems that are better at serving African-American, Hispanic and low-income students.

*Scholarships earned by graduating seniors in LBUSD this year exceed $50 million. That's more than two and a half times the $18 million earned just four years ago.

 *A list of the nation's top high schools released by the Washington Post includes eight schools in the Long Beach Unified School District. The rankings include schools that surpass 93 percent of other public high schools nationwide in terms of their ability to offer rigorous college prep courses. No other large, urban school system can claim such a high percentage of its high schools appearing on this prestigious list.

*A progress report on the three-year-old Long Beach College Promise initiative to prepare more youngsters for college success revealed promising results, with nearly three out of four (74 percent) of our graduates pursuing post-secondary education.

*U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had high praise for LBUSD when he met with educators, parents and students at Tincher Preparatory School. "I've studied your school district for a long time, and I think you have so much to be proud of," Duncan said. "I don't say this lightly, but more so than the vast majority of other school districts that I visit, this school district has gotten things right for a long time."

 *Lafayette Elementary School was one of six schools to earn the Panasonic National School Change Award for significant, multi-year gains in student achievement.

 *Long Beach's teacher preparation system was described as a national model in a report calling for America's teacher education programs to be revamped. A panel commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) released the report at a Washington, D.C. news conference.

 *A White House official quoted in the Los Angeles Times praised Long Beach's Seamless Education Partnership, a cooperative venture among K-12 schools and higher education. The article noted that the Long Beach College Promise, which is Seamless Education's signature initiative, is being hailed as a national model.

 *Officials from LBUSD, Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach joined President Barack Obama at a White House signing ceremony where the president approved an executive order renewing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. The three institutions had attracted national attention for increasing college access through the Long Beach College Promise.

*U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Fremont Elementary School, where she praised the school as a model for healthy eating, and she helped students to dedicate a new salad bar. The visit promoted First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative to fight childhood obesity.

*LBUSD launched the North Long Beach Initiative, a six-month planning effort to guide public policy addressing the educational and social needs of students and their families. Our school board recently OK'd policy recommendations developed during this planning effort.

*State and local officials gathered at Jordan High School to honor the school's Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Academy for being among the first in California to achieve Linked Learning Certification. The certification effort, headed by educational nonprofit ConnectEd, assures that the high school is combining rigorous academics with real world experiences that prepare students not only for college, but also for high-paying, high-demand jobs.

*Dooley Elementary School gained authorization to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, bringing the rigorous, internationally recognized college preparatory system to the North Long Beach school.

*Nine Schools in the Long Beach Unified School District made the statewide Honor Roll list announced by California Business for Education Excellence.

*The Long Beach Unified School District earned an "A" grade in a statewide audit report detailing whether public education agencies provide public records as required. The nonprofit Californians Aware issued the report using a traditional A to F grading scale. The organization audited more than 250 public education institutions statewide.

*Demolition of the former DeMille Middle School site is progressing as workers make way for a new high school that will accommodate about 1,000 students.

*Construction of a new middle school is well under way at the former GTE site at 20th Street and Cherry Avenue in Signal Hill.

Even as we celebrate these successes, we're painfully aware that the summer brings uncertainty and difficulty for many of our colleagues who have either lost their jobs or are unsure of their employment status for next school year. LBUSD's leadership will continue working through the summer to mitigate the effect of state budget cuts as much as possible, and we will keep you posted at www.lbschools.net.

Meanwhile, we should all be proud of this year's accomplishments, especially considering the significant obstacles that we have faced. Thank you for giving your best to our students this year. You have made a profound difference in their lives.

Sincerely,
Chris

Christopher J. Steinhauser
Superintendent of Schools