Ohanian Website Banned in District Broad Proclaims Best in America
Ohanian Comment: My first reaction, on hearing that the Aldine ISU, Texas, longtime bridesmaid is finally a Broad [rhymes with 'toad'] bride, was to skip the item. But then, reflecting on my own personal history with Aldine and the backlog of items I've archived on this site, I decided to go ahead.
In August 2006, I learned this website was banned in Aldine ISD. In January 2007 I got hold of a screen shot of the message that showed up on the computer when an Aldine ISD employee tried to access http://www.susanohanian.org.
Access to this web page is restricted at this time
Your attempt to access the requested site may be in violation of Aldine ISD policy and has been restricted by the Technology Services Department.
Site Category: "Education; political/Activist Groups"
Blocked web page: http://susanohanian.org/show_nclb_outrages.html?id=74
IP address: 10.125.100.6
No article on my website can be accessed but this particular one is:
"No Child Left Behind: Costs and Benefits" by William J. Mathis
Phi Delta Kappan
This notice runs along the bottom of the homepage of the Aldine ISD:
Aldine Independent School District does not discriminate against persons because of race, creed, national origin, age, sex, disabilities, economic status or language disability in employment, promotion or educational programming.
Here is their mission statement:
We exist to prepare each student academically and socially to be a
* critical thinker
* problem solver
* responsible and productive citizen
Item Concerned Teachers Expose Administration Policy Indiscretions for TAAS and TAKS Testing of Aldine Students
Item: More on the Texas Miracle/Mirage
Item: Look how the Aldine ISD uses the word Empowerment, adding even more slime to an already-dubious word: We believe in empowering individuals to make decisions aligned with the vision of the school district.
What kind of power is aligned power?
Item: Aldine ISD one of six districts selected by the Center for Reform of School Systems to participate in Reform Governance in Action, a comprehensive two-year training program for school boards and superintendents.
The RGA program is an effort underwritten by the Eli Broad Foundation and the Meadows Foundation to support and encourage reform-minded leadership in school districts across the country. School Boards enrolled in RGA will study ways to better serve their constituents' needs, how institute effective policy, and how to create and implement a cogent transformation plan.
Item: from review of Handbook of Data- Based Decision Making in Education.
In Chapter 11, "Building Data-Driven District Systems: Examples from Three Award-Winning Urban Systems," Heather Zavadsky, whose vita includes managing the Broad Prize in Urban Education, describes Aldine in some detail. She notes that "one of Aldeine's most impressive features is the frequency with which the district monitors student progress on an ongoing basis." She also points out that "Teachers are routinely observed by principals, department chairs, and their peers who have been trained to use a structured observations and walk-throughs." Those walk-throughs are inspections, making sure teachers are on script. Education Week put it this way: "Aldine is striking because the district leaves so little to chance when it comes to student success. . . . It takes little time for a visitor to Aldine to see the heavy emphasis that is placed on preparation for state tests. Computer programs scroll through lists of practice questions. Printers spit out scores for teachers to review. Timed practice quizzes help students prepare for the real thing."
Aldine named best urban school system in America
By Ericka Mellon
The Aldine Independent School District's knack for coaxing strong test scores from students in some of the Houston area's most poverty-stricken neighborhoods earned it the distinction as this year's best urban school system in the nation.
The prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education comes with $1 million in college scholarships for Aldine's graduating seniors.
This was the fourth time the north Houston-area district was a finalist for the prize, which honors large school systems making notable gains in student achievement.
Aldine Superintendent Wanda Bamberg, who
accepted the award at an afternoon ceremony in Washington, D.C., said she deliberately did not prepare a speech.
"I did not want to jinx it," Bamberg said as her staff gathered at district headquarters to watch the announcement live via the Internet.
When Aldine was revealed as the prize winner ﾃャﾃつ｢ﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽ instead of the perennial bridesmaid ﾃャﾃつ｢ﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽ district employees erupted in claps and cheers.
"Aldine shows us that it's possible for a district facing tough circumstances to get excellent results," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. "We need to highlight the success of Aldine and districts like it so that others can follow their examples and lift up all students."
Third from Texas
Aldine, which serves about 60,000 mostly poor and minority children, is the third Texas school district to win the Broad prize since it was established in 2002 by the California-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
Brownsville ISD won last year, and Houston ISD was the award's first recipient.
The scholarship prize money will go to Aldine seniors graduating in 2010 based on financial need and a record of academic growth in high school, according to the Broad Foundation. Students attending four-year colleges will be eligible for up to $20,000, while those enrolling in two-year schools can receive up to $5,000.
As a three-time runner-up for the Broad award, Aldine racked up $250,000 in scholarship funding each time.
The other finalists for the prize this year were school systems in Broward County, Fla.; Gwinnett County, Ga.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Socorro, Texas, a district in the El Paso area. A panel of eight judges, including three former U.S. education secretaries, selected the winner.
"I think people were really rooting for (Aldine)," said Austin lobbyist Sandy Kress, a member of the Broad nominating committee who once served as an education policy adviser to former President George W. Bush.
"People across the country understand that for some significant period of time folks there have really been building something and sustaining it."
The 100 largest U.S. school districts that also serve a large number of low-income children are automatically eligible for the award.
Strong test performance
Contest officials noted that Hispanic and low-income students in Aldine outperformed their peers statewide in reading and math at all grade levels in 2008. Black students scored higher than their counterparts in math at all levels, but fell behind in reading in elementary school.
The district's weakest area is science, where 63 percent of black students passed the state test in 2008, compared with 71 percent of Hispanic students and 82 percent of Anglos. Sixty-eight percent of low-income children passed, according to state data.
Aldine also drew praise from the judges for its ﾃャﾃつ｢ﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽclear, rigorous expectationsﾃャﾃつ｢ﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽﾃδｯﾃつｿﾃつｽ for staff, its recruitment of top-notch teachers and the budget autonomy it gives principals.
Aldine parent Carlos Deleon, who has had three children educated in the district, attributed its success to "the community, the parent involvement and, of course, most important, the good teachers."
"When I hear they're awarded more scholarships," Deleon said of the students, "wow, that's great. These kids work so hard."
Susan Ohanian and Erika Mellon
Houston Chronicle and Ohanian archives