Senators go back to school for class on California education

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Eloy Oakley, Superintendent-president of LBCC, is spearheading his school’s efforts to increase preparation and access. (Photo Credit: Jerome Thomas Photography)

The political bickering stopped, at least for two days, as legislators put party affiliations aside for the sake of children and education in California.

State Senators from the California State Senate Policy Conference on Education gathered in Long Beach for two days to focus on “linked learning,” or education that prepares students for specific career paths from K-12 through college and university level education.

Leaders dropped in on classrooms and discussed policy topics like the implementation of new Common Core standards and Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed school funding overhaul.

“We know that one of the best ways to improve outcomes for our students and to close achievement gaps is to align rigorous academics to the world of work and careers. Long Beach Unified is on the cutting edge of linked learning in California, and consistently ranks among the top-performing school districts in the country,” said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “This fact-finding conference is a great opportunity for a firsthand look at what’s working for our students in elementary, secondary and higher education, and to ask questions and learn from those who are achieving success.”

“In addition to studying a successful school system focused on meeting our workforce needs, this is a prime opportunity for Senators to get out of the Capitol and experience a day in the life of California high school and community college students,” said Senator Bob Huff, Senate Republican Leader. “We’re eager to hear from students, teachers, parents, school leaders and the business community in Long Beach.”

Legislators could have picked any school in the state. Why Long Beach? If you want to learn from the best, you go to the best.

From Cabrillo High School to Long Beach City College, Senators learned best practices. Long Beach Unified is the state’s third largest school district and has earned the national Broad Prize for Urban Education. It’s also been named among the world’s 20 leading school systems in sustained and significant improvements. In 2012, the Washington Post named seven of the district’s high schools as among the most academically challenging high schools in the U.S.

Educators in Long Beach know that partnerships work–businesses, agencies and organizations collaborating on what’s best for the region.

Long Beach City College is recognized throughout California and the nation as a leader in efforts to improve college preparation, access and success. LBCC is a finalist for the 2013 Exemplary CEO/Board Award of Excellence from the American Association of Community Colleges.

Last year, the college won the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges’ Excellence in College Research award for development of LBCC’s predictive placement model using high school grades rather than standardized test scores for student evaluation. The college was also recognized by the White House Initiative for Excellence in Hispanic Education in 2010 and received the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Student Success Award in 2009.

“Yesterday marked a historic event at Long Beach City College where close to 30 California State Senators gathered at the first of its kind bipartisan Policy Conference,” said Lou Anne Bynum, Executive Vice President of College Advancement & Economic Development. “The Senators learned about the implementation of linked learning through educational and career pathways for students that begin from K-12 through community college, to the university level.”

LBUSD, Long Beach City College and California State University Long Beach have also teamed together to form the “Long Beach College Promise,” which emphasizes student readiness for both college and careers. Under this agreement, all graduates of Long Beach high schools are provided a tuition-free first semester at Long Beach City College. All students who complete minimum college preparatory or minimum community college transfer requirements are also guaranteed admission at CSU Long Beach.

“We hope that the lessons learned from this engaging educational policy conference at LBCC will lead to incentives to schools from the California State Legislature to forge similar partnerships between the different educational systems throughout the state,” said Bynum.


Cheryl Getuiza

All stories by: Cheryl Getuiza