Competition heats up for America’s best urban school districts.
The Long Beach Unified School District is one of five finalists for the $1 million National Broad Prize for Urban Education, the largest education prize in the nation given to school districts. Long Beach is the first former winner of the prize to return to the competition as a finalist.
The winner of the 2007 Broad Prize will be announced September 18 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The annual award honors large urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among various ethnic and socioeconomic groups of students.
As a finalist, LBUSD will receive at least $125,000 in scholarships for high school seniors and will now compete for a total of $500,000 in scholarships. In all, $1 million in scholarships goes to the finalists and top winner.
LBUSD won the Broad Prize in the 2003-04 school year and was one of the top five finalists in 2002-03. If the school district wins the top prize, it will be the first school system in the nation to win the award twice.
“Long Beach again inspires the nation by believing in its children,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools for the Long Beach Unified School District. “We’re deeply moved and inspired by The Broad Foundation’s recognition and support of excellence in America’s public schools. Our heartfelt thanks go to our unsurpassed team of teachers, classified personnel and administrators, support staff, Board of Education members, Personnel Commissioners, parents, volunteers, business partners, local service clubs, philanthropic groups, clergy, veterans, local colleges and universities, retirees and many others.”
LBUSD is the only school district in the nation to be nominated for the award during each year it was eligible to compete since the inception of the award in 2002. Once a school district wins the top award, it is not eligible to compete for three years.
The Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by Edythe and Eli Broad, a renowned business leader who founded two Fortune 500 companies.
“Long Beach has proven that with hard work, it is possible to not only raise student achievement in our cities, but also to keep it up,” Eli Broad said. “Other urban districts nationwide can learn a great deal from what is working in Long Beach.”
The five finalists were selected from a pool of 100 urban school systems. The year-long process draws on the expertise of education leaders, nationally prominent individuals from business and public service, and a team of dozens of data analysts. The selection of the finalists and winner requires the analysis of thousands of pages of data, and hundreds of hours of school visits.
“Every year, The Broad Prize highlights urban school districts whose commitment to raising achievement for all students is helping more children reach and realize their potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “These districts are proving that every child, regardless of race, income, or zip code can learn and achieve to high standards.”
Long Beach was chosen as a finalist because its schools outperformed other California schools serving students with similar income levels in reading and math at all grade levels: elementary, middle and high school. Long Beach’s low-income, African-American and Hispanic students outperformed their peers in similar districts in reading and math at all levels.
WHAT OTHERS SAY: Broad Foundation spokesperson Erica Lepping praises the Long Beach Unified School District, as a team of reviewers visits Hill Classical Middle School. LBUSD is the only past winner of the national Broad Prize to return to the competition as a finalist. "That is an incredible story and one that people around the country are watching carefully," Lepping said. "Can a former winner of The Broad Prize win again?"