As reviewers toured Long Beach schools this week to determine whether LBUSD wins the national, $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education, 15 surprised students here received a combined $250,000 in Broad Scholarships for improving their grades.
LBUSD won the scholarships as one of five finalists for the 2008 Broad (rhymes with road) Prize. The district is now competing for the 2009 top prize, to be bestowed this fall by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
“Why does Long Beach keep outpacing other large districts across this country? There’s a phenomenon going on here, and our research team is trying to understand it,” Broad Foundation spokeswoman Erica Lepping said during a news conference this week at Cabrillo High School.
“In the United States, there are 15,000 school districts. There are only two that have been five-time finalists for the most improved school district in the nation – Boston and Long Beach.
“Long Beach is truly one of the best urban districts in the country,” Lepping said. “If you are a parent of school-age children in Long Beach, your children are receiving a stronger education than those in other school districts,” she said.
Joining Broad officials at the news conference were Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, and leaders from Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College.
“I can’t thank you enough for the performance you’ve achieved, and for how much you’ve done for this city,” Mayor Foster told representatives of the school district. “This is like a lifetime achievement award, because you are instilling a lifetime of achievement in these young people.”
Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser announced the names of the 15 scholarship winners, each of whom received between $5,000 and $20,000. The Broad Foundation has now given Long Beach students more than $1 million in recent years.
Scholarship winners were Diana Rodriguez of Cabrillo; Bryan Chiem of Lakewood; Jaden Netwig of Millikan; Poly students Abelardo Gutierrez, Francia Bienvenue, Grady Vanhooser, Jennifer Chrin, Khantina Mann, Mindy Huynh and Steven Sar; Renaissance students Ines Arredondo and Tanya Tran; and Wilson students Allison Cook, Jessica Martin and Sayuri Blanquel.
Long Beach is a 2009 Broad Prize finalist because in 2008, its African-American, Latino and low-income students achieved higher average proficiency rates than their counterparts statewide in reading and math, and because the district continued to narrow achievement gaps that remain prevalent in many other school districts nationwide.
The winner of the 2009 Broad Prize will be announced on Sept. 16 by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.