June 06, 2003
An inspection team scrutinized three Long Beach schools Wednesday to see whether the Long Beach Unified School District has what it takes to be called the top urban school system in America.
Long Beach Unified School District is one of five national finalists for the $500,000 Broad Prize for Urban Education. After collecting information on student performance from the nation’s top school systems, the evaluation team wanted to see Long Beach classrooms for themselves. The team of national education experts, assembled by the Los Angeles-based Eli Broad Foundation, visited Tucker Elementary School, Hill Classical Middle School and Wilson Classical High School.
At Wilson, a Broad Foundation team member said the district had made great strides as one of the outstanding urban school systems in the U.S. The Broad Prize for Urban Education will be announced in September.
"What we’ve seen in Long Beach is the closing of the achievement gap," said Gregory McGinity, Director of Policy for The Broad Foundation.
"Instead of having students of different ethnicities performing at different levels, Long Beach has been able to bring students together so everyone is achieving at a high level.
"You have an extraordinary group of successful educators that has done a lot of great work with students. It’s something that Long Beach can be very, very proud of. The teachers and principals have worked very hard. They are an extraordinary group of people, and we’re very glad to recognize them as one of the five finalists for the Broad prize."
In choosing Long Beach as a finalist from the nation’s 16,000 school districts, evaluators gathered more than 20,000 pieces of information on student achievement in local schools.
The Broad Foundation evaluation team this week met several students who have shown great academic improvement. Among them was Wilson senior Anner Alvarado, one of 14 local seniors who will receive $125,000 in college scholarships from the Broad Foundation.
When Alvarado enrolled at Wilson three years ago, he had just arrived from Guatemala and did not speak English. He is now fluent and taking Advanced Placement literature. He will now join the U.S. Marines and attend Long Beach City College.
"When I came here, I was struggling in my classes," Alvarado told the evaluators at a news conference in the Wilson Media Center. "But my teachers really pushed me, and I decided to learn English as quickly as possible. Going to Wilson has been a great opportunity, a great experience."
Evaluators said they will share Long Beach’s successes with other school districts nationwide.
"You are pillars of hope for other school districts," said Jean Rutherford, director of educational initiatives for the National Center for Educational Accountability. "You prove it can be done."