Gwinnett wins prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education: A validation of its strong superintendent

Congratulations to the teachers, students and administrators of Gwinnett schools. In a ceremony in New York, Gwinnett was just declared the nation’s top urban school system by the Broad Foundation, earning the district a million dollars in student scholarships and its controversial superintendent validation of his strong leadership style.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the award in front of an audience that included a large Gwinnett contingent.

in New York today, J. Alvin Wilbanks accepted the 2010 Broad Prize on behalf of Gwinnett schools

In New York today, J. Alvin Wilbanks accepted the 2010 Broad Prize on behalf of Gwinnett schools from U.S. Ed Secetary Arne Duncan.

The Broad Prize for Urban Education honors the urban system that has the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing the achievement gap. It is the largest education prize in the country.

“This is a great trip to New York,” said Dr. Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett superintendent, thanking his board of education and his central staff. “Let me present to you the real heroes – the two people who make a real difference in the success of students, the teachers and principals. It is not us in the district office — you are the ones who carry out what we are supposed to do. We learned a long time ago that our mission is teaching and learning and that  has caused a sea change in what we do.”

While I know that  Wilbanks has his critics, I have to share a conversation I had last week with a former DOE official. He said that he dealt with the leadership teams of all the districts, and he understood why DeKalb and Atlanta had so many more problems that Gwinnett.

He said Wilbanks assembled a leadership team that was sharp, responsive and together, while the other two systems’ teams were disorganized and non-responsive.

When I need photos of top students or a statement, Gwinnett is the first to respond. From an outside point of view, Gwinnett is well run, efficient and responsive.

So, while Wilbanks may be demanding and, according to his critics, imperious, I have to offer that he is also effective in what matters most: Educating children.

So thought a jury that included former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros.

An 18-member review board selected the five finalists. Other finalists are Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, N.C.,  Montgomery County Public Schools, Md., Socorro Independent School District, El Paso, Texas, and Ysleta Independent School District, El Paso, Texas.

Here are some of the statements in support of Gwinnett today:

Gov Perdue: “This national recognition for Gwinnett County Public Schools is well deserved. The school board, Superintendent. Wilbanks and the staff and faculty in Gwinnett have made student achievement their singular focus. Gwinnett was the first Georgia system to sign an IE2 contract, and the system is one of 26 participating in the state’s Race to the Top program. Gwinnett has consistently embraced innovative education policies, and today’s announcement of the Broad Prize award is a direct result of all the hard work put in over the years to raise student performance.”

State Superintendent Brad Bryant: “Congratulations to Superintendent Wilbanks and Gwinnett County Public Schools on receiving the 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Education. This award is a testament to Gwinnett’s commitment to provide every student with an opportunity for success. Gwinnett is a shining example of how high expectations can lead to outstanding student achievement. ”

GAE President Calvine Rollins. “On behalf of the Georgia Association of Educators, we wholeheartedly congratulate Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks and the teachers and education support professionals of Gwinnett County on receiving the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education. We especially congratulate our colleagues of the Gwinnett County Association of Educators for their hard work and dedication in ensuring their students receive the great public education to which they’re entitled.”

173 comments Add your comment

usually lurking

October 19th, 2010
12:29 pm

Go Gwinnett!

Oh Please

October 19th, 2010
12:34 pm

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

The other lurker

October 19th, 2010
12:36 pm

Way to go Meadowcreek ES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Goal Digger

October 19th, 2010
12:36 pm

Congratulations to Gwinnett and its students!! This is WONDERFUL news:-)

Tammy

October 19th, 2010
12:36 pm

Where does my son apply?

Kristi

October 19th, 2010
12:37 pm

Yay, that’s why we put our children there this year!!

Shoot me now!!!

October 19th, 2010
12:38 pm

God I hate gwinnett….it’s so ghetto!!!

Hummon

October 19th, 2010
12:38 pm

A great school system, but a pretty broad definition of urban.

lovetravel

October 19th, 2010
12:40 pm

It a good school, but later it going become a problem that no one isn’t going to know yet. It’s going to be very way up to the face in Gwinnett. Yes I know it a good school but tooo many student? how can they teach those student in a large class, I don’t know but someone going to find out soon than later

Order Restored

October 19th, 2010
12:41 pm

The caption under the photo says “Broad Price” should that be “Broad Prize”? Do you have spellcheck for education articles?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 19th, 2010
12:42 pm

Hooray for Gwinnett! That is fantastic! I will pass along to all of Momania!!

art

October 19th, 2010
12:42 pm

Yawn. Best Urban School System. So non-”system” schools were excluded, namely private schools. Best public school system is equivalent to an award for mediocrity. That’s why my child attends Westminster instead of Brookwood. That said, at least Gwinnett has more going for it than Dekalb, Fulton and Cobb.

Go Gwinnett!!!!

October 19th, 2010
12:44 pm

Thanks Gwinnett! Without Gwinnett, Georgia would be dead last in state school rankings. Gwinnett is an oasis of success in a desert of ignorance in our state. What a wonderful role model Gwinnett Schools is for other school districts. Makes me so proud:-)

Putti

October 19th, 2010
12:44 pm

Gwinnett has better school system, I hope they will not mess it up.

APSparent

October 19th, 2010
12:45 pm

Weren’t we signing similar praises about Beverly Hall and APS just a few years ago? Look at us now! This is all so confusing, and, in our case, bogus and corrupt. We’ve had about enough of APS, maybe we will go look in Gwinnett.

KG

October 19th, 2010
12:45 pm

Since when is an affluent suburban county “ghetto”? There are plenty of things negative about Gwinnett (suburban sprawl, traffic, soulless strip malls and subdivisions), but “ghetto” it certainly isn’t. Anyways, congrats to Gwinnett Schools for this honor. Maybe it will light a fire under some of the other metro districts.

Shiloh ES Mom

October 19th, 2010
12:46 pm

Proud day to be a Gwinnett parent….

APSparent

October 19th, 2010
12:46 pm

oh see, that should be SINGING, not signing. I have been here too long…

Maureen Downey

October 19th, 2010
12:47 pm

Nikki

October 19th, 2010
12:48 pm

YAY!!!! I love Gwinnett!! They have really done a great job factoring in growth in the school districts and constantly growing for our community! YAY YAY YAY!!!!!

some sense

October 19th, 2010
12:48 pm

Enter your comments here

Kay

October 19th, 2010
12:49 pm

Congrats Gwinnett County School System!!!

some sense

October 19th, 2010
12:49 pm

What place did they come in for gang presence???

Real Blonde 474

October 19th, 2010
12:49 pm

Congrats to Gwinnett but you still couldn’t give me a home in that county. we will stay in Cobb County with Lassiter.

brenda

October 19th, 2010
12:50 pm

Gwinnett is Awesome especially for Special Education students I moved from Ny with an autistic son an he has received awesome care.

A. Thompson

October 19th, 2010
12:50 pm

Great work to the teachers, students & administrative! All the hard work & dedication shows!

Bethesda ES

October 19th, 2010
12:51 pm

Hooray Gwinnett!!

bart

October 19th, 2010
12:51 pm

This is great news. However, I hope the Republicans with their draconian cuts won’t ruin it in the future. Larger class size, fewer teachers, less resources, fewer materials, and less enriching classes will eventually take its toll.

Real Blonde 474

October 19th, 2010
12:51 pm

Sorry but you couldn’t give me a home in Gwinnett and that includes the schools…Y’all can stay out there and I will keep my kids at Lassiter in Cobb County.

Enides

October 19th, 2010
12:52 pm

Proud parent of college kids who went to Nesbit ES, Lilburn MS, Lanier MS, and Mill Creek HS. Congrats to the students, parents, coaches, teachers and administrators!

John

October 19th, 2010
12:53 pm

Great to hear this as I was raised in the Gwinnett system. But I want people to think about it – certainly Gwinnett has a great school system, but if this is the best that the US can come up with, in terms of education, there’s a LOT we need to work on, when we compare ourselves to the other industrialized nations.

Dr NO

October 19th, 2010
12:54 pm

Perhaps the ilk in Fulton County could take a few lessons from the Professionals in Gwinnett County.

Dunwoody Mom

October 19th, 2010
12:56 pm

Text message from my friend who works in GCSS: LOL….

Dewi

October 19th, 2010
12:57 pm

Great job for Gwinnett. Seriously well done.

But isn’t this award for an urban system? Not a suburban, more realistically exurban, system?

Urban is not a good thing!!!

October 19th, 2010
12:57 pm

I would never torture my “white” son by putting him in a school like Central Gwinnett….NO WAY!

Dot

October 19th, 2010
12:58 pm

I have been happy with my children in the Gwinnett School System. Yes, it has it’s faults as do all schools including private schools. My children have thrived in the diversity they are surrounded with and are better prepared to interact with all people because of it!

JSD

October 19th, 2010
12:58 pm

Urban? Really?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJC , Phillip Kisubika, Atlanta Tribune, Maura Neill, 365Atlanta.com and others. 365Atlanta.com said: Kudos, Gwinnett Co. schools. You've been named THE. NATION'S. BEST. Among ALL urban school districts. http://bit.ly/aov94A // via @AJC [...]

Gwinnett

October 19th, 2010
1:01 pm

I guess people just have to be negative even when it’s something positive…smh

Bev "Cupcake" Hall

October 19th, 2010
1:01 pm

Aw hell naw. They cheated!!! Fulton County should be the winner and even though they dont recognize us we still win. To God be the Glowree!

Milt

October 19th, 2010
1:06 pm

Homes in Gwinnett just got easier to sell – and more expensive at the same time.

Dingy

October 19th, 2010
1:07 pm

So, Gwinnett wins for an “urban” system, but is funded (for QBE) as a “rural” system? Makes perfect sense to me.

Michelle

October 19th, 2010
1:07 pm

At Art: Those of us who do not have the financial means to send our children to “Westminster” or other private schools are very thankful to be able to live in Gwinnett, where at least I believe my son is getting the best the public school system has to offer. I agree that public schools aren’t the best but since so many of us don’t have the option of private school for our children, it’s wonderful to have a public school system like Gwinnett as an option. Don’t be such a snob, calling this an award for “mediocrity.” Why post this on a blog that has NOTHING TO DO WITH PRIVATE SCHOOLS?! In the world of public schools….. Gwinnett has been deemed the best, how is that mediocre?

Asha

October 19th, 2010
1:10 pm

I am about to be negative, and it is well deserved. Gwinnett County’s educational system does not encourage students to grow and develop intellectually or mentally, as individuals, if they do not fit into the academically established box. They do not encourage freedom of thought, they do not foster honor, respect or the highest ideals in life. They simply want students to study the curriculum, pass the tests, and graduate. That is sadly inadequate in the grand scheme of things. Youth need much more intellectually and mentally than to study books so that they can pass exams. They need to be encouraged to grow as free-thinking individuals, to challenge what has been written and established with the intent to go beyond! Oh, and did I mention the infamously inhumane Zero Tolerance law, which effectively and completely kills any tendency to honor and nobility in our youth. But that’s another subject.

Maureen Downey

October 19th, 2010
1:10 pm

Folks, I do have to agree that Gwinnett had to beat some very strong school systems to win this prize, including Montgomery County, Md. (Better luck next year, Dana)
The review panel looked at a lot of factors in choosing Gwinnett, including student performance. I am not sure why there is this continued chorus here that private schools outperform public schools. Some do. Some don’t.
This is Gwinnett’s day.
Let them enjoy it.
Maureen

Bed Bugs

October 19th, 2010
1:17 pm

Nice to see they went to New York. HOME OF THE BED BUGS!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mitch Nauffts, Matt Sinclair, AJCMOMania, ADOLFO TRANA, Jackson Reeves and others. Jackson Reeves said: Gwinnett named top urban school system in nation by Broad Foundation. This is what happens between DeKalb and Forsyth. http://bit.ly/bMTpRc [...]

DeKalb Educated

October 19th, 2010
1:23 pm

It is amazing that Gwinnett did beat Montgomery County in MD. It’s nice to know that a Georgia school system can win a prize in education beside “highest illiteracy rate” or “Most Corrupted School Board”. I hold out hope that DeKalb with strong leadership will hire a superintendent that can weed out the trash at the central office, raise morale among teachers and raise the standards for students. We have the students and parents in DeKalb who are capable and can accomplish these goals. I know we have dedicated teachers. Now, we just need the leadership of an ethical school board who will put aside their need for “diversity” in hiring and hire quality in educational leadership.

Dunwoody Mom

October 19th, 2010
1:24 pm

The Broad Foundation was a sponsor of the obnoxious “Waiting for Superman”…nuff said…

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carie Cato, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Gwinnett wins prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education: A validation of its strong superintendent http://bit.ly/diKRPi [...]