School & District Management

California District Awarded Urban Education Prize

By Marianne D. Hurst — October 01, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

After what they say was a long, hard struggle to improve student achievement, school leaders in the Long Beach Unified School District in California feel they can pause for a moment to enjoy a recent rush of success.

The 97,000-student district was named last week as the 2003 winner of the Broad Prize for Urban Education.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized,” said Richard Van Der Lann, the district’s information officer, who noted that community and city support have been vital. “We’ve all worked our hearts out.”

The Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation first awarded the prize last year in an attempt to increase confidence in public education. But the award program has recently drawn criticism because the first award went to the Houston Independent School District, which has been the focus of an intense controversy over its high school dropout data. (“Despite Disputed Data, Houston Backers Say District Merited Prize,” Sept. 24, 2003.)

Finalists are selected from more than 100 urban school districts nationwide, with 20 education leaders reviewing each district’s data. The national winner receives $500,000 in student scholarships.

This year’s finalists included the 62,800-student Boston Public Schools; the 50,000- student Garden Grove Unified School District in California; the 95,000-student Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky; and the 37,000-student Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia. Each finalist received $125,000 in student scholarships.

Among its other philanthropy, the Broad Foundation supports coverage of leadership issues in Education Week.

‘More With Less’

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the Long Beach school district has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the nation. Students in the district speak 46 different languages.

District officials said establishing a stable educational system for such a varied enrollment can be challenging. The current economic troubles in California haven’t made it any easier.

The district had to cut nearly $40 million from its $840 million budget over the past year alone, forcing it to impose hiring freezes, limit staff travel, and place all discretionary programs on hold.

Despite steady enrollment growth and major cuts in state funding, the district has managed to avoid issuing pink slips for teacher positions, it has kept its pupil-teacher ratios in grades K-3 at 20-to-1, and its scores on state tests have shown steady improvement.

“We tapped the brake pedal when we saw leaner times coming,” Mr. Van Der Lann said last week. “We’re doing more with less.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Schools 101: Best Practices & Key Benefits
Learn how to develop a coordinated plan of action for addressing student trauma and
fostering supportive, healthy environments.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion LAUSD Superintendent: These Are Our 4 Priorities Right Now
Is there hope for the future of public education in America? Yes, writes Los Angeles schools chief Alberto M. Carvalho.
Alberto Carvalho
5 min read
Closeup shot of a group of unrecognizable young people holding plants growing out of soil
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Uber for School Buses? How Companies Use Rideshare-Like Tech to Ease Driver Shortages
The headline-grabbing national school bus driver shortage has forced districts to make difficult choices.
5 min read
Image of a school bus with its stop sign extended.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Learn to Talk to Each Other Again: 4 Tips for Schools
Schools can play a vital role in helping all of us begin talking to each other again in more civil, meaningful ways.
3 min read
Three individuals connected by jigsaw puzzle speech bubbles over their heads.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Video Tools Don't Have to Distract. Five Tips Show School Leaders How to Harness Them
Newsletters and announcements don’t always do the trick. Principals can use videos to improve their relationships with students.
4 min read
Image of a woman recording herself.
fizkes/iStock/Getty