The third in a series of Superintendent-Selection Community Forums was held at Jordan High School on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 18.
It’s been 19 years since the last superintendent search, prior to Christopher Steinhauser taking on the role. Steinhauser announced his retirement this past December after 18 years, effective at the end of this academic year. The Board of Education has since approved a process to select a new superintendent of schools.
The selection process consists of four phases. Currently, the district finds itself in phase two: the public outreach phase. As part of phase two, the district is having community forums throughout Long Beach to receive input from the public on what qualities they want to see in the next superintendent.
The district also listened for the community’s opinions on the district’s strengths, areas for improvement and issues that residents want to be addressed or anticipate in the future.
Maricela de Rivera, a parent who resides in the north side, raised the issue of inequity throughout schools in Long Beach.
She said that while the dual-immersion program and the arts education her daughter receives at Patrick Henry Elementary, located in the Lakewood area, were the main reasons for enrolling her there rather than Grant Elementary School, located in the north side, it wasn’t fair that other schools in the district didn’t have those same resources.
“The district needs to make sure that west, north, and central Long Beach receive the same opportunities,” de Rivera said.
De Rivera who identifies as a queer woman, also brought up the topic of teaching queer education to students in effort to make sure their education reflects the transgender community in Long Beach.
“Every single time there’s a mom and a dad in a book– you’ve taught gender, and you’ve normalized heterosexuality and cisgender worlds and lives– and that’s doesn’t reflect my family. Our families look different,” de Rivera said in reference to her own family, as she is a member of the LGBTQ community.
Carché Chess, a parent and part-time employee at Jordan High School, stressed the importance of recruiting a superintendent from Long Beach that would be familiar with the schools and the different areas surrounding them and understand “the Long Beach way.”
“There is such a thing as a Long Beach way, and if you don’t know that, you’re not from here or haven’t been here long enough,” Chess said.
She also suggested interactive parent-training programs in elementary, middle and high schools.
“If you can empower the parents, you can empower the students,” Chess said.
Susan Garcia, an LBUSD teacher, praised Coffee with Chris–– a meet-and-greet event Steinhauser hosted–– and recommended that the next superintendent have something similar to encourage dialogue between LBUSD employees and the new superintendent.
“That allowed me to get to know the superintendent in a different way and have a conversation,” Garcia said. “I think that’s a positive thing.”
Garcia also brought up the need for more counselors and psychologists to help break the cycle of trauma-impacted students and parents.
“We have students that have been trauma-impacted in various things, we have parents that have been traumatized, and as a result we have a cycle that’s perpetuating on this, and we need to somehow figure out how to break this,” Garcia said. “I would say we need more counselors and psychologists to help out with these trauma-impacted individuals, these are things that we need to be focusing on.”
She also recommended that students be required to take an ethnic studies course.
“We find through research that ethnic studies is what provides a student’s sense of self and this should be carried through from K through on,” she said. “When we know where our roots are, we start learning about the limits of others and appreciating others, and our differences.”
A former Jordan High School student who graduated from the University of California, Irvine stressed that the district needs to encourage other options for students aside of attending a four-year university.
“We need to take into consideration that students can go to trade school, that they can go into a different path, because it’s not just about one college one type of system,” the former Jordan High student said.
She mentioned how she came across other students who also went to a four-year school and were now in huge amounts of debt because of student loans.
A teacher from Educational Partnership High School (EPHS) suggested that the district teach basic courses covering topics such as character, health, literacy, self-love, cursive economics and home economics.
“We need to emphasize the basics with these young people so that they can be responsible and be marketable in the real world,” the teacher said.
The next Superintendent-Selection Community Forum will be Monday, Feb. 24, at the Wilson High School Auditorium. For a schedule of all future forums click here.
The forums are also available to watch live on YouTube by visiting LBSchools.net and clicking on the Multimedia icon or YouTube icon.