By Christopher J. Steinhauser
Superintendent of Schools
The American Dream is alive and well in our schools. Every day, thousands of students and families, including many who arrived in our neighborhoods with little or nothing, look to our public schools as the primary path to a better life. We uphold a great responsibility, and we remain firmly committed to equal opportunity for all students, regardless of where they live, how much money their parents make, or any personal challenges they may face.
The result of our commitment and collaborative efforts is that today we have nationally recognized schools throughout all geographic areas of our school district. We saw recent examples on last month’s Washington Post list of America’s best high schools. Nine of our high schools appeared on the list, including, for the first time, Cabrillo High School on the Westside and Jordan High School in North Long Beach. Each of these schools is considered to be among an elite group of the top 12 percent of high schools in the nation. Although the poverty rate is about 80 percent at Cabrillo and Jordan, these schools are beating the odds. That’s a testament to the hard work of our students, parents, employees and many community partners.
Such schoolwide victories are made possible by many smaller, quiet victories for individual students. Wherever our students attend school, we strive to remove barriers for them and their families, for instance, by recruiting under-represented students into Advanced Placement courses and covering the cost of AP exams for all students, creating a potential savings of hundreds of dollars for each family. Many of these families also save thousands of dollars on college tuition as students earn college credit while still in high school.
We have much more work to do, but the future looks bright. We will always remember 2016-17 as the school year in which about 75 percent of local voters approved $1.5 billion in Measure E school bonds. These funds will be used as wisely and efficiently as possible, giving future generations of students and staff the facilities they need and deserve. That’s another huge victory for our children.
To all who have made these and so many other amazing accomplishments possible in our schools, I sincerely thank you, and I hope you will take some time to celebrate the many victories, both big and small, that have added up to one incredibly memorable school year.