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L.B. Among Aspen 'Bellwether' Districts

The Long Beach Unified School District has joined the Aspen Urban District Network, a group of 15 leading education organizations, as part of The Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program. The program aims to improve public education by informing and inspiring education leaders, with an emphasis on achieving equity for students of color and students from low-income families.

LBUSD and the 14 other members of the Aspen Urban District Network come from “urban, bellwether public school districts and charter management organizations that share our ambition for improving equity and performance,” according to the institute.

The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. The institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

Aspen Institute events have attracted presidents, statesmen, diplomats, judges, ambassadors, and Nobel laureates over the years, supporting the institute as a global forum for leaders.

The national Urban District Network convenes leaders in multi-day retreats (now virtual retreats) and offers support and follow-up outside of those retreats, with a focus on professional learning and leadership development.

LBUSD leaders participating in the effort include Superintendent Jill Baker, Deputy Superintendent Tiffany Brown and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development Kristi Kahl.

Other participating organizations include the Achievement First Charter Network, and districts from Aldine, Baltimore City, Broward County in Florida, Chicago, Cleveland Metro, Hartford, Jackson in Mississippi, Denver, District of Columbia, San Antonio, Sacramento, Philadelphia and Tulsa. The systems within the Urban District Network serve more than 1.2 million students.

The urban district leaders are focused on three interdependent priorities; advancing a richer vision of student success that integrates the social, emotional and academic dimensions of learning and development as essential to advancing equity; leading districts that execute on coherent strategic approaches to shared interests in unique contexts that drive student achievement and position adults to perform at high levels; and developing education leaders to more authentically engage communities, transcend political ideological debates, and build diverse coalitions for transformation in learning, equity and efficacy.

Superintendent Baker also is a member of the Aspen program’s Chiefs Networks, which convenes chief academic officers and chiefs of schools together to support both design and school-level implementation of academic improvement strategies. The network focuses on aligning investments to a coherent strategy for systemic improvement.