I want to personally commend the work of the Center for the Reform of School Systems (CRSS), for their efforts in working with school boards and school districts to improve their governance structures. As a recipient of CRSS training, I appreciated the approach by CRSS to put in place a comprehensive assessment of the educational environment and the steps needed to transform it.
CRSS engaged a case study approach, which were based on actual school districts, in their training that offered an opportunity for discussion and critical analysis. What became obvious as a result of this approach was the sheer complexity of issues confronting urban school districts.
The reform governance model asks a direct question about the district’s fundamental or core beliefs as they pertain to students and its commitment towards those beliefs. The next question involves the management structure best suited to enable the district to move forward. This step is critical and is accomplished by asking the question, what is the district’s theory of action for change. The district’s response to this question sets the stage for a comprehensive assessment of district strategies and the policies that will be needed to carry them out.
The transformation in place at Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) is a reflection of discussions made to “close the achievement gap” through an analysis of core beliefs and building sustainability as part of that commitment. The steps involved consisted of setting strategic goals for the district. The superintendent, in turn, set personal goals based on the district’s goals, and members of the school board, in turn, review those goals, adds to, or modifies them prior to board approval. The superintendent’s goals become the working goals for staff. The superintendent’s annual performance evaluation is based on his annual goals. Moreover, the board is also vested in the superintendent’s goals.
In conclusion, the opportunity to be the recipient of training provided by the Center for the Reform of School Systems has been instrumental in the forward progress of the Long Beach Unified School District. More importantly, school districts that were and continue to be part of the training provided by CRSS have been able to show systematic improvement in closing achievement gaps.
I look forward to a continuous working relationship with the Center.
Felton Williams, Ph.D., Member
Board of Education
Long Beach Unified School District