"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gwinnett County Board Member Makes Embarrassing Claims

Here's a really, really good indication that your school district is in trouble: one of your school board members actually believes you won a $1 million award when, in fact, you were not the lucky winner of this prize. The competition I'm talking about, of course, is the Broad Prize for Urban Education, an annual award handed out by Eli and his pals. Aldine Independent School District in Texas won the award this year, but Gwinnett County Public Schools board member Mary Kay Murphy, Ph.D. penned the following essay (link to her revised essay here):

Memorandum from
Mary Kay Murphy
Mary Kay Murphy, Ph.D.
District 3
School Board Member
October 9, 2009
Gwinnett Garnets the $1 Million Broad Prize
Thanks a Million, Gwinnett County!
Your diligent support of excellence in public education has been rewarded with $1 Million in scholarships to students graduating from Gwinnett County Public Schools in the Class of 2010.

The $1 million award, The Broad Prize in Urban Education for 2009, was made on September 16 in the New Visitors’ Center at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. by Philanthropist Eli Broad of the Los Angeles-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

The Broad Prize is the nation’s largest education award given annually to urban school districts that have made the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Gwinnett County Public Schools as the 2009 winner from among a field of five urban public school districts.

J. Alvin Wilbanks, Superintendent and CEO of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and the Gwinnett Board of Education, were recognized for their leadership of the school system. “They are doing things there that are not really happening around the country,” said Erica Lapping, a spokeswoman for The Broad Foundation.

The Foundation’s education work is focused on dramatically improving urban K-12 public education through better governance, management, labor relations, and competition.

Prior to announcement of The Broad Prize winner, Wilbanks was one of five finalist superintendents participating in a panel discussion that included Wanda Bambert, Aldine Independent School District, Houston, TX; Xavier De La Torre, Socorro Independent School District, El Paso, TX; James F. Netter, Broward County Public Schools, Fort Lauderdale, FLA; and Chris Steinhauser, Long Beach Unified School District, CA.

Since 2002, The Broad Prize publicly celebrates success in urban school districts. Previous $1 million winners include, among others, the New York City Department of Education in 2007, Boston Public Schools in 2006; and Houston Independent School District in 2002.

America’s 100 largest urban school districts are eligible for The Broad Prize. For the 2009 competition, a review board evaluated and analyzed publicly available academic performance data using local, state, and federal evaluation measures. Focus was on closing the achievement gap for African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian students.

A different review panel conducted site visits to each finalist district using a research-based rubric to gather qualitative information, interview district administrators, conduct focus groups with teachers and principals, and observe classrooms. The team also talked to parents, community leaders, school board members, and others.

A third group, a selection jury of prominent individuals from business, industry, education, and public service, then chose the winning school district after reviewing both the performance data and the qualitative site visit reports.

“While all urban school systems across this country face enormous challenges, Gwinnett shows us what a successful public school district can accomplish,” said Eli Broad. “All involved, from Gwinnett’s teachers to administrators to the district’s leadership, can be proud that their hard work to raise student achievement has paid off for students and indeed the entire community.”

Among reasons that Gwinnett was chosen as the 2009 Broad Prize Winner were the following:

The district outperformed the other 179 districts in Georgia that serve students with similar income levels;

Between 2005 and 2008, participation rates rose for African American and Hispanic students taking the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement exams, as did average ACT scores for Hispanic students;

In recent years, Gwinnett has narrowed achievement gaps between both African American and Hispanic students and white students in reading and math in elementary and middle school.

Each of the four finalist school districts in 2009 will receive $250,000 for scholarships to students graduating from district schools in the Class of 2010. This brings the annual Broad Prize to $2 million in support of public education in the nation’s urban school systems.

Eli and Edythe Broad have devoted much of their philanthropy to study and support success in public urban school systems across the nation. Eli Broad made his initial fortune in real estate at his company Kaufman & Broad (now KB Home). He also founded and was CEO of SunAmerica, a financial giant that was a subsidiary of American International Group until 2000.

As District III Board Member, it has been a privilege to work with the other Board members, the Superintendent/CEO, principals, teachers, staff, parents, students, other community members, other elected officials, and all who share in the commitment to dramatically improve K-12 education in Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Thanks a Million, Gwinnett County!!
Gwinnett County Public Schools, if you remember, is also the district that sent two police officers to intimidate Susan Ohanian a number of years back.

1 comment:

  1. That's a pretty big "mistake" isn't it ? Wow.