Campus: CSU Long Beach -- September 14, 2001

U.S. Secretary of Education Paige Lauds Long Beach Education Partnership

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige traveled to Long Beach on Friday, Sept. 7, to see first-hand the shared successes of California State University, Long Beach and Bret Harte Elementary School, which work together under the seamless education initiative of the Long Beach Education Partnership.

The visit to Bret Harte was one of several Paige will make on his cross-country "Back to School, Moving Forward" tour to promote school accountability through family, school and community activity.

In addition to spending time with children in their classrooms and at an all-school spirit assembly, he participated in a roundtable discussion with key partnership participants including U.S. Congressman Steve Horn, California State University Chancellor Charles Reed, CSULB President Robert Maxson, Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Carl Cohn, Bret Harte School Principal Diane Brown and Teacher Specialist Patti Nagano.

The partnership between the university and the school includes several teacher education students working with experienced teachers in the classroom as part of earning their own credentials. The university also offers specialized training to the school's teachers. Paige pointed to Bret Harte School's accomplishments as indicative of the overall effectiveness of the Long Beach Education Partnership in helping children succeed in the classroom. "The seamlessness of your system is something America should really pay attention to and I want to congratulate you on that."

According to Cohn, the district and university have focused on better preparation of teachers and improving the quality of teaching and teacher development. Pointing to increases in reading and math scores over the past four years at the school, Cohn stated, "SAT 9 results confirm we do an outstanding job."

Maxson noted that one benefit to the program is that aspiring teachers learn the realities of teaching in an urban classroom before earning their credentials. "There are no shortcuts," he said, "just roll up your sleeves and course by course, make sure children are learning what they need."

Reed discussed CSU's role in teacher preparation in California, already preparing 60 percent of the state's teachers and planning to increase teacher numbers by some 15,000 next year. Considering the state's increasing demand for qualified instructors, Reed said, "We need more teachers who look like their students. The only place I know where we can recruit these teachers is in the classroom."

Paige was particularly complimentary of the shared commitment of teachers, administrators and community members to include themselves as part of the solution to improving schools.

Referencing President George W. Bush's "Leave No Child Behind" education reform plan, Paige said, "If a school changes and becomes really productive, it will be because of the people who walk around in the building. It will not do so because of the people who walk the halls of Congress. We must provide the resources to help the people in the building get the job done."

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