Three urban school boards were honored at NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) annual meeting in New Orleans on Saturday. Texas’ Mesquite Independent School District took top honors as the winner of the 2011 Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence. Boston Public Schools and Nevada’s Washoe County Public Schools were named as finalists.
Mesquite Board President Kevin Carbo, board members Christina Hall and Cary Tanamachi, and Superintendent Linda Henrie accepted the award.
“We are very proud of our district’s accomplishments,” said Carbo. “This award is not just for the Board of Trustees, but for everyone in the district-from the administrators to the teachers to the auxiliary employees who day in and day out give our children their maximum effort.”
Henrie accepted the award on behalf of all of those across the country who are dedicated to public education. “This honor affirms that public education works and works well,” she said.
“This is just one more step in the right direction,” Carbo added. “We have more work to do, and CUBE just gave us a little more incentive to continue working toward a better future for our kids.”
The award recognizes excellence in school board governance, building civic capacity, closing the achievement gap (equity in education), and demonstrated success of academic excellence.
A 37,000-student school system located less than 20 miles east of Dallas, Mesquite has systematically made gains in student achievement and significantly closed achievement gaps while successfully rallying community support around the schools.
Eighty-four percent of students tested proficient in math in 2010, up from 67 percent in 2004. The percentage proficient in science grew from 52 percent in 2004 to 82 percent in 2010. Reading test scores rose from 82 percent to 91 percent proficient during the same time period, while social studies scores went from 86 percent to 95 percent passing.
While all subgroups showed improvement, minority students enjoyed particular gains, and the test score gaps between white and minority students closed significantly in all subject areas.
For more information on the winning district and the finalists, go here.
Also at the CUBE meeting, Arizona school board member Eva Carillo Dong was honored with the 2011 Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award. Dong has been a member of the Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board since 1999.
She was honored for her long-time dedication to the community and her strong belief that education can improve life for children in Sunnyside Unified, which serves more than 17,000 students.
President of the Sunnyside board three times in her 12 years of service, Dong has helped the district gain state and national attention for its innovative programs and initiatives to increase student achievement, reduce the dropout rate, and increase community engagement.
The Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who demonstrate a long-standing commitment to the educational needs of urban schoolchildren through school board service. Benjamin Elijah Mays, whom the award honors, was a teacher, minister, author, and civil rights activist who served as president of Morehouse College and the Atlanta school board from 1970 to 1981.
For more information on the awards and CUBE, go to www.nsba.org/cube.